Jonathan Manners takes us through the career steps that led him to be Chief Executive of the Academy of Ancient Music.

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Chief Executive, Academy of Ancient Music (2014)

I’d been at English National Opera for five years when this position at AAM became available. I was beginning to get itchy feet and wanted to be more involved with artistic planning, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to return to historically informed performance and to look after the artistic strategy of an organisation. AAM is coming towards the end of its 40th anniversary celebrations, and I'm relishing the opportunity to guide the organisation through its next chapter. 

Orchestra Manager; Head of Music Administration (2009-14), English National Opera

I read that Sir Andrew Davis said that everyone who works in classical music should experience life in an opera house. I was also given sound career advice by Paul Hughes at the BBC, who recommended I go for the position of Orchestra Manager at ENO to experience life with a full-time contract orchestra. It was daunting to move into such a different working environment, especially given the much-publicised problems at ENO, but I quickly grasped what a great bunch ENO's orchestra were and had a thoroughly rewarding time working with them. I was promoted to Head of Music Administration in 2012. The role has responsibility for the day-to-day running of all aspects of the orchestra, chorus, music staff and library. Life in a repertory opera house is exceptionally busy, and ENOs music department is at the very heart of the company, delivering consistently superb results. Working with Ed Gardner and Martin Fitzpatrick was especially rewarding and I was proud of the company’s musical achievements whilst I was there. 

Co-Founder and Creative Director, Resonus Classics (2010)

I had thought about setting up a record label for some time, but the costs of producing and distributing CDs made the idea unfeasibly expensive. Adam Binks and I decided that the only way we could fund Resonus was if it was download only. Initially, it was hard to convince artists that this was the way the industry would move, but three years on the label moves from strength to strength. 

Record Label Manager; Soli Deo Gloria Tour Manager, Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras (2006-09)

I had gained experience producing a CD for Cancer Research UK with Barry Rose, and this sparked a passion to work for a record label. By chance I was introduced to Isabella de Sabata who founded SDG with Sir John Eliot Gardiner after the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000. She took a gamble offering the job of Record Label Manager to one with such little relative experience, but I relished the opportunity of organising the Bach releases alongside working as Executive Producer on Sir John Eliot's Brahms symphonies cycle. Isabella was a great boss - always fair and with a wicked sense of humour. She enabled me to take on tour management responsibilities during my final year, which allowed me to have a more 'hands on' role with the Monteverdi performance groups. Tour management is hard work, but the Monteverdi musicians played hard too, and I spent an extremely happy year travelling around the world experiencing world-class concert tours with them.

Assistant Artist Manager/Administrator to The Tallis Scholars, Hazard Chase Ltd (2004-05)

I was still studying singing on the vocal and operatic undergraduate course at the Birmingham Conservatoire when I decided to pursue a career in arts management. Luckily, there was advice and opportunities on offer at The Conservatoire that undoubtedly led to my first position at Hazard Chase in Cambridge. Choral music has always been one of my passions, so it was exciting to be working on tours, concerts and recordings for The Tallis Scholars and The Hilliard Ensemble. Working for an agency gave me invaluable experience in time management and working under pressure, and I had an exceptional mentor in Lucy Rice who guided me through the challenges of working with professional musicians for the first time. As a company Hazard Chase really invested in me and taught me a great deal whilst I was cutting my teeth within the industry. 

Jonathan Manners is Chief Executive of the Academy of Ancient Music.

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