Over the past twenty-five years the trust has produced concerts, masterclasses, workshops and other projects both in the UK and internationally through collaboration with partner organisations in Poland, Russia, Hungary and Estonia.
One of our objectives has always been to support innovation and generate activity in places where none existed before. Our starting point in the 1980s was creative partnerships – combining commercial sponsorship with local authority support to create funding for professional orchestral concerts in towns across south-east England where such a resource had never previously been possible. In the 1990s we moved into direct concert promotion with concerts at Blackheath Concert Halls and central London venues including the South Bank Centre and St John’s Smith Square.
From 1994-2010 the key objective became securing a future for music at Watford Town Hall, possibly the finest hall for orchestral performance in England – one with an acoustic of justified international renown. After years of decline, it had been without professional concerts for two seasons when the trust commenced operation there in 1996. Through revising every element of the concert management there, average concert attendance tripled in a single season, with a solid core of subscription sales. In succeeding years the audience profile was developed to include over 8% under the age of nineteen and the trust also established a loyal body of Friends and Patrons. There is more information about our work in Watford in the archive
Further dynamic growth followed the introduction of an experimental business model (RAVE) in 2007. This proved hugely valuable in audience development, generating not only wider access – through lower prices – but increasing sales volume, donations, net revenue and, most importantly, audience engagement: by 2009, 94% of tickets were sold on subscription. Sadly, despite the success of our work there, Watford Borough Council elected to pursue a commercial operating structure for the hall in the long term despite being warned of the likely consequences for musical development at the hall. The new arrangements presented insurmountable obstacles to further operation at the hall and therefore our involvement ceased in 2010. From 2010 the trust continued working in the area presenting an annual series of chamber concerts in association with The Purcell School but by early 2013 it had become clear that this activity would be unlikely to achieve long-term financial sustainability and the trust withdrew from activity in the Watford area.
As well as the introduction of a new business model for concerts, 2007 saw the trust’s first international co-operation, with its support of Yuri Simonov’s International Masterclass for conductors in Budapest, in association with Filarmonia Budapest and the Royal Palace at Gödöllő. 2009 saw the start of a collaboration with the Radom Chamber Orchestra in Poland which led to the creation of our Conductors’ Academy, which developed rapidly and now has students from all over the world.