The London Philharmonic Orchestra has today announced that its shareholders – all playing members of the Orchestra – have voted to update the governance structure of its Board of Directors. The decision was taken at the AGM in May, and is announced now following the first Board meeting and the appointment of a new Chair and player President this evening.

For the first time, the Chair will be a non-executive, rather than a player. Victoria Sharp – current Chair of the London Philharmonic Trust, and Founder and Chief Executive of London Music Masters – has been appointed to the position.

As a result of the changes, five more Board places have been created for voluntary non-executive directors who will bring external skills, support and advice. There will now be seven players and 12 non-players on the Board, and the decision effectively merges the governance Board with the trustees of the London Philharmonic Trust, a sister charity that had a predominantly fundraising objective.

The update structure is the result of a review that was initiated two years ago by the then Board. A working group was set up consisting of player directors, non-executive directors and members of the London Philharmonic Trust, to ‘consider whether the existing governance structure was the best appropriate structure to serve the needs of the Orchestra and its shareholders (i.e. the players)’.

Lord Justice, Sir Bernard Rix; Sir Philip Thomas KCVO CMG; and Timothy Walker, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, remain on the Board. They are joined by leading figures from a wide variety of fields including Desmond Cecil CMG, Jonathan Harris CBE FRICS, Dr Catherine Høgel, Angela Kessler, Julian Simmonds, Natasha Tsukanova, Lawrence Watt and Dr Manon Williams, all of whom have been involved with the LPO Trust.

The Players’ Committee will remain responsible for all player-related issues, and its Head will sit on the Board taking the new title of President. The current Head, violinist Martin Höhmann, who has been instrumental in managing the structural changes, steps down today after seven years. His successor, unanimously elected by the players yesterday, is flautist and former Deputy Chair of the LPO Board, Stewart McIlwham.

Timothy Walker, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, commented:

“While the Orchestra’s turnover has risen from £6.8m to over £10m in the past seven years, and our funding from sponsors and donors has more than doubled from £0.85m to £1.75m, no arts organisation can afford to be complacent in an increasingly competitive climate. Updating the governance structure of the Orchestra allows us to bring valuable external skills, expertise and networks in the form of our non-executive Board. This will help to secure a stable and forward-looking organisation. I am delighted that the Trust, Board and players, who have all been so instrumental in establishing the new structure, have worked together to bring about such positive change.”

Victoria Sharp, new Chair of the Board of the Directors, commented:

“During my involvement with the LPO over the last five years, I have been privileged to see at close hand this family of immensely talented, creative musicians and am excited to have the opportunity as Chair to help support the future of this great British orchestra. I have tremendous respect for the integrity of the Orchestra's artistic accomplishments and ambitions, its breadth of vision, its significant work in education and communities, and its commitment to reaching ever wider audiences.”

Martin Höhmann, outgoing Chair and Head of the Players’ Committee, said:

“I’m delighted that the results of our two-year review on behalf of the players to secure a strong future for the Orchestra have come to fruition. I’m looking forward to passing the baton to Victoria and to continue playing in so many exciting forthcoming concerts and events.”

Stewart McIlwham, flautist and incoming President, commented:

“We spent an interesting and productive year with some of my colleagues and a charitable trust expert from Charles Russell reviewing our governance structure. We were convinced unanimously by the sense of the merger, and the full Board agreed, also unanimously. It was then for us to discuss with the player members, our shareholders.They too overwhelmingly agreed. Ultimately for the players there are only positives. We now have more business-minded people helping us to raise much needed funds and we, the players, are still ultimately in control of our company. This is a really good and significant move forward.”

 

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