Askonas Holt and Opus 3 Artists CEO Donagh Collins Named Artist Manager of the Year
Donagh Collins, chief executive officer of the two leading management companies affiliated with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), was named Artist Manager of the Year by the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) and Classical Music magazine.
In bestowing the honor, the ABO cited the pivotal role Collins and his colleagues played in uniting Ukrainian musicians from inside the country and across Europe to perform together as the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra last summer. In just a matter of weeks, a twelve-date international tour was pieced together, which included critically acclaimed appearances at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh Festival, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Lincoln Center, and Kennedy Center.
The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra was originally the inspired idea of conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson and her husband Peter Gelb, general manager of The Metropolitan Opera in New York.
“Wilson and Gelb turned to one of the most experienced agencies in the field of orchestral touring, Askonas Holt,” said ABO’s Interim Chair Jenny Jamison. “The logistics of pulling together a 12-concert tour for the new orchestra—embracing the UK, the USA, Poland, Germany, France and Ireland—were daunting indeed. Especially as arrangements had to be tied up at breakneck speed. All obstacles were overcome, and the debut tour of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra was a major success.”
The ceremony, held last night in Leeds, UK as part of the ABO’s annual conference, also included a special posthumous award to the late pianist and conductor Lars Vogt, who died last autumn.
Accepting the award on behalf of his family, Lars’ long-time manager and Askonas Holt Director Celia Willis said, “The extraordinary reaction to his all too early death reminded us that Lars was not only an outstanding musician, but a very relatable human being. His openness about his illness and how much comfort he derived from his love of music, struck a chord across the profession and with audiences alike. I feel privileged to have been part of his journey.”
Askonas Holt was acquired by SFCM in late 2022, joining Opus 3 Artists and recording label Pentatone in a global initiative to increase the impact of music. At the same time, Collins was appointed CEO of both management companies and joined the Business and Corporate Alliances Committee of the SFCM Board of Trustees.
Founded in 2012, the ABO/Classical Music Awards are decided each year by the Association’s membership of the UK’s top orchestras, conservatories, and related organizations, and gives the members the opportunity to honor those who make exceptional contributions behind the scenes.