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Previously hosted by Welsh National Opera in 2009, the annual ABO Conference returned to Cardiff in January 2018, jointly hosted for the very first time by three Orchestras: the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Sinfonia Cymru and WNO.
Both national and international delegates attended the conference based around the theme of Collaboration. The joint hosting was the clearest signal of that commitment, now being very much in the DNA of these Cardiff-based musical organisations. Over the three days, we demonstrated how our colleagues from the other two host orchestras are working closely with WNO and other partners, such as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, St David’s Hall, the Wales Millennium Centre and numerous arts and educational organisations, venues and local authorities throughout Wales, in England and beyond.
We believe we have a great model in Cardiff in the way colleagues from different orchestras, companies and venues are talking with one another and coming up with solutions for delivering a regular and varied artistic diet for our geographically diverse audiences throughout Wales. Only by collaborating in as generous a way is this possible. All over the UK this is being acknowledged as part of the essential way forward and the industry came to Cardiff to talk about it.
Over the three days, numerous sessions addressing collaborative and associated issues which affect the orchestral and music industry took place at Wales Millennium Centre. A joint sold-out concert with BBC and WNO Orchestras was held on Wednesday 24 January 2018 in Hoddinott Hall. Our Music Director Tomáš Hanus, and BBC Principal Conductor Thomas Søndergård led their respective orchestras. Key speakers at the conference included Kevin Brennan (Shadow Culture Minister), Phil George (Arts Council of Wales Chair) and Tony Hall (Director General of the BBC). Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, the Welsh Government Minister of Culture Tourism and Sport also hosted a reception at the Senedd for delegates.
The 2018 ABO Conference was a fantastic three days of discussion and activity, with the international orchestral and music industry spotlight firmly fixed on the capital of Wales. Welsh National Opera was extremely proud to be involved in the hosting of this important event.