Michael Elliott, currently chief executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, has been appointed chief executive of exam board ABRSM. He will take over the role from the retiring Leslie East in January 2015.
Before the RSNO, Elliott had been director of culture at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Before that he had been chief executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, during which time he also played a role in planning the city’s European Capital of Culture activities.
Colette Bowe, chairman of ABRSM’s governing body, said that there had been ‘huge interest in this role and a large number of people were considered’, but the trustees had been impressed by Elliott’s ‘range of strengths, qualities and relevant experience’.
Elliott called ABRSM ‘world class’ and said that he looked forward to ‘leading it in its next phase of development’, though it would be a ‘considerable wrench’ to leave the RSNO. ‘I will always remain an enthusiastic ambassador for this great orchestra and nation.’
East took over the ABRSM chief executive’s role in spring 2013, following the resignation of previous incumbent Guy Perricone. In a recent interview for Music Teacher magazine he said that he was expecting to retire leaving the organisation ‘in a good state’ having lead a programme of infrastructure development for an organisation which operates grade exams in close to 100 countries worldwide. The changes would ‘certainly make life inside [the ABRSM] building tremendously easier and more effective’, he said.
‘The governing body wishes to thank Leslie very warmly indeed for his outstanding leadership of ABRSM,’ said a statement, ‘and for all his long service to us, including a very successful time as director of publishing.’
Elliott’s brief will be to continue the infrastructure work begun under East, while driving the organisation’s efforts in developing markets, including work in China which had been many years in the planning and development and is starting to yield significant benefits. Around 50% of ABRSM’s work is in the UK, with other developing markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.
The RSNO said a recruitment process was ‘already underway’ to find Elliott’s successor. Its chair, Brian Lang, said: ‘Michael Elliott has been a highly successful chief executive for the RSNO. His period in office has seen the growth in the size and diversity of audiences, artistic success, and increasing support from funders and supporters.
‘He has made a substantial impact on planning for the new home that will replace Henry Wood Hall. As we approach our 125th anniversary, the board is grateful to Michael for all he has done to put the orchestra in good shape for the future. We will miss him, but wish him well in his new venture.’