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Adelaide Symphony Orchestra appoints new CEO


Experienced arts administrator Colin Cornish, current CEO of the Australian Youth Orchestra, has been appointed the new chief executive officer of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

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Cornish, who has been based in Melbourne with the AYO, will relocate to Adelaide early next year and start in his new role in March, taking over the reins following the recent departure of long-time ASO CEO Vincent Ciccarello.

“I grew up in Adelaide, studied at the Elder Conservatorium of Music and played violin with the ASO as a casual musician when I left university, so the ASO has always held a special place in my heart,” Cornish said in a statement.

“The high respect in which the ASO is held is obvious every time I talk to artists and conductors anywhere around Australia and the world. The special place it has in the community in SA has been evident to me for many years, and I am delighted to be joining such a creative and successful organisation.”

Ciccarello led the orchestra for 10 years and revealed in July that he would be stepping down in September. Last month it was announced he had been appointed head of philanthropy and enterprise at the Art Gallery of South Australia, with a brief to lead the gallery’s philanthropic, development and membership programs.

The ASO undertook a global search for its new chief executive officer and said today that Cornish – awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in last year’s Queen’s Birthday honours for his contribution to performing arts, music and youth ­– was “a standout in a world-class field of candidates”.

“In Colin, we have secured someone who is completely in tune with the ASO’s future direction,” said chair Andrew Daniels.

“He brings with him outstanding experience, both in terms of his strategic approach and his musical understanding.”

Cornish’s previous roles include director of artistic planning at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and he has worked as a recording producer and musician with a number of major orchestras.

He has been CEO of the Australian Youth Orchestra since 2005, with the organisation’s chair, Ben Rimmer, saying in a statement today that Cornish has played a critical role in its growth and success: “His talent and capability as a musician and as a leader of musicians has been a hallmark of his time in the role, during which the AYO and its many ensembles and training pathways have achieved ever higher standards of musical excellence.”

Ciccarello oversaw the launch of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s 2023 season before his departure last month, and the ASO’s existing executive, senior management team and board will share the role until Cornish begins in March.

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