Dougie, who celebrates a decade at the helm of the BSO this season, was nominated by peers throughout the industry for his work in championing inclusion and innovation in classical music.

He was awarded the accolade by Classic FM presenter Anne-Marie Minhall and ABO Interim Chair Jenny Jamison at the 2023 Association of British Orchestras conference in Leeds, where he was praised for his “passionate dedication to inclusion”.


Dougie Scarfe, who this year celebrates a decade as Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) Chief Executive, has been recognised for his work in championing inclusion and innovation in classical music. He was awarded the Orchestra Manager of the Year award at the ABO/Classical Music Awards in Leeds.

Dougie was recognised for his commitment to digital innovations and continued efforts to improve inclusion in classical music.

His decision to continue the BSO’s investment in its digital infrastructure in recent years was especially celebrated. The Orchestra’s symphonic livestreamed concerts, which launched in 2020 from its base at Lighthouse, Poole, ensured the public were served with inspiring musical experiences and that musicians were kept active during the pandemic. The BSO became one of the first British orchestras to return to the concert stage, when it gave its first symphonic livestream — and its broadcasts have since widened access to culture for a great number of people who previously felt excluded due to rural isolation or ill health. In 2021/22, 23,099 digital tickets were sold for the Orchestra’s 44 livestreamed performances, reaching viewers in six continents.

Dougie’s work with BSO Resound, which became the first disabled-led ensemble at the core of a major orchestra when it launched in 2018, was also recognised. As was his ongoing commitment to commissioning new music that will build the repertoire for inclusive ensembles; in recent years BSO Resound has given world premieres by composers Alexander Campkin, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and Shirley J Thompson OBE. In 2023, BSO Resound unites with RNS Moves to give the world premiere of Kate Whitley’s Falling, with live-streamed performances in both Poole and Gateshead.

His ongoing commitment to celebrating lesser-heard voices — from the series of symphonic works the BSO has celebrated from the native Ukraine of Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits to the unique fusion that has been built in partnership with Seeta Patel Dance this spring, or the orchestral playing scheme he’s forged in collaboration with sector colleagues to improve access — was also recognised.

Dougie Scarfe, Chief Executive of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, said: “I’m deeply honoured to receive the ABO/Classical Music Orchestra Manager of the Year award. Throughout my career I have passionately believed that inclusion is not a project. I am proud that our efforts here at the BSO to celebrate lesser-known voices — whether that’s the music being performed on our stages and in live broadcasts, the musicians in society who are finally being heard, or the collaborations we’re forming to ensure this momentum builds — has been recognised.

“The BSO has such a unique remit championing the value of culture in people’s lives across 10,000-square-miles of the South West and I’m proud to receive this award on behalf of the brilliant BSO musicians and staff, and our wonderful audiences, communities and supporters who make everything we do possible.” 

Judith Webster, Association of British Orchestras Chief Executive said: “British orchestras continue to demonstrate extraordinary levels of resolve and imagination, even at the most challenging of times. Dougie’s commitment to inclusion in all that his orchestra does, from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s digital offer during the pandemic to providing opportunities for disabled musicians make him a deserving winner of the 2023 ABO/Classical Music 2023 Orchestra Manager of the Year Award.”

Andrew Flockhart, Chair of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, said: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees I would like to congratulate Dougie for this award which is very well deserved indeed. His commitment to inclusion and innovation shines through him every day. We appreciate this and so many people benefit from this in ways that are often unseen. He is a great example to the whole world of classical music. Dougie’s leadership of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and his work with sector, community and funding partners demonstrates what can be achieved and brings inspiration, joy and confidence to all.”


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