Bank of England ex-Gov to head merged Philharmonia board

Bank of England ex-Gov to head merged Philharmonia board


norman lebrecht

April 22, 2020

The Philharmonia Orchestra hs merged its trust and limited company into a single body, chaired by Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England.

Here’s the press release:

The Philharmonia Orchestra today announces a major restructuring … following a substantive governance review and consultation with Members of the Orchestra and Trustees of the Philharmonia Trust. Philharmonia Ltd (the orchestra) and the Philharmonia Trust (the charity which holds the Philharmonia’s endowments) have agreed to merge, following overwhelming ratification by members of both bodies. The changes went into effect on midnight on 31 March 2020. The result is a unified, streamlined structure which enhances the self-governance model that has defined the Orchestra since it became owned by its player members in 1964. 

Philharmonia Members will represent a majority of the newly constituted Board, and the elected leader from the player group will now become the President of the Philharmonia. The position of Chair will be held by a non-player. The Chair, President and Chief Executive will be at the core of the Orchestra’s leadership. From summer 2020, Philharmonia Ltd will be chaired by Lord King of Lothbury, Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013. 

Lord King said: ‘I am deeply honoured to be asked to serve as Chair of the Philharmonia Orchestra. Despite present uncertainties, the future of the Orchestra is bright. With a new management team and a new Principal Conductor I am confident that the Orchestra will scale even greater musical heights.’

From September 2020, the management of the Philharmonia will be led by Alexander Van Ingen, who joins as Chief Executive from Cambridge-based period-instrument orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, where he has been Chief Executive since 2017.


  • stanley cohen says:

    I wonder whether the Orchestra’s management still owe the chorus upwards of £100,000.00?

  • John Willan says:

    Oh Dear! The self governance model of the independent London orchestras doesn’t need enhancing; it needs scrapping. It’s what causes all the problems as we know only too well. If there are any more mergers in the offing, it should be between the London Philharmonic and the Philharmonia as we suggested in 1985. This would reduce the number of orchestras in London, concentrate audiences and funding, enable the players to have proper salaries and time off, result in a permanent, contracted, ensemble of around 150 players and revert to making the residency of the Festival Hall a single one, as it was towards the end of my tenure of the LPO – the current dual residency has always been a nonsense. It might even pave the way towards London having a truly great orchestra like, say, the Berlin Philharmonic: this was our aim and we got close. Nevertheless, it is good to see a non-player chair. I tried this in 1992. It was the quid pro quo demanded by the Arts Council, they having agreed to double our funding to support the single residency in return. The “self governance” response – The Guardian called it “player power” – was that I lost my head, the orchestra lost the residency and all its top conductors overnight – Tennstedt, Haitink, Muti, Solti, Jochum, Mehta, Jansons, Welser-Most, Masur, Sawallisch – all exclusive to the LPO at that time. It took them several decades finally to appoint a non-player chair. But it was too late – 20 years too late.

    • Elephant says:

      Self-governance creates a sense of ownership which translates to increased commitment and excellence on stage. London’s most successful orchestra has it (LSO), as do Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics.

    • Keith Bragg says:

      Eugen Jochum was indeed a remarkable musician and conductor. But it turns out that he may have been even more remarkable, cosmically, than any of us knew. According to John Willan he walked out, “overnight” on being on the LPO’s roster of exclusive conductors on hearing of Mr. Willan’s departure as LPO chief executive in the early 1990’s. This despite Jochum having died in March 1987! Such things are, I believe, explained by the modern science of Quantum Physics whereby the same event can take place multiple times in multiple places in multiple different universes. (or some such). This might also explain how, in Mr. Willan’s view, London’s self-governed orchestras could be transformed to be more like the Berlin Philharmonic, which is, and has always been, self-governing, were they to abandon self-government. Even the premise that London’s orchestral life should be changed to be more like that of Berlin is as wrong-headed today as it was when first promoted by John Willan in 1985. Why else would Sir Simon Rattle, who is known for his passionate pursuit of the highest of artistic standards, decide to leave the self-governed Berlin Philharmonic to take over at the helm of the, equally self-governed, LSO? One sad point about Mr. Willan’s post is that he does himself a disservice in not recognising the huge part he played in raising London’s orchestral standards in the late 80’s and early 90’s. As other orchestras upped their game to match enhancements he had made at the LPO, London became a centre of orchestral excellence, admired the world over. And now as the Philharmonia Orchestra, one of London’s four world-class independent symphony orchestras, announces an exciting new development, at the end of an already glittering more than a decade with Esa-Pekka Salonen, we should all be unequivocally celebrating as we prepare for what will undoubtedly be a volcano of new, top-quality activity once the current lockdown ends.