Ian Ritchie was born in London in 1953. While still at school, he decided to pursue a career in music and was already active as a solo singer and an organiser of concerts. Ian was pre-elected to a choral exhibition at Trinity College, Cambridge, and gained a place at the Royal College of Music where he studied in his ‘gap year’ and won the Mario Grisi Prize for first-year singers.
After graduating from Cambridge in law and music, he studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His planning and organisational leanings overtook his singing ambitions and he was appointed promotion manager at Universal Edition, the renowned publishers of 20th century music. There began his career-long commitment to living composers and contemporary music.
In 1979 Ian was appointed general manager of the Richard Hickox Singers & Orchestra, rebranding the latter as City of London Sinfonia. In 1983 he took on the additional post of artistic director of the City of London Festival, performing the roles simultaneously until 1984, and joined the music panel of the Arts Council of Great Britain.
He spent the following nine years in Edinburgh as managing director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, winning the ABSA/BP Arts Award for making the most imaginative use of sponsorship in 1990 and the Prudential Awards for Music and for the Arts in 1991. During this time he was artistic co-director of the St Magnus Festival, Orkney, for five years and chairman of the Association of British Orchestras for two years until leaving Scotland in 1993 to become general director of Opera North.
From 1994 Ian took on a variety of freelance and pro bono roles, mainly in England, Scotland and Bosnia-Herzegovina, specialising in artistic direction and assessment, project design, leadership recruitment and organisational development in the fields of musical composition, performance, education, therapy, integration (for the disabled) and humanitarian aid (in areas of conflict). Over the years he has worked in advisory capacities for all the UK Arts Councils, the British Council, NESTA and a number of music charities such as the Society for the Promotion of New Music (now part of Sound and Music), of which he was chairman, and Opera Circus.
Ian is chairman and (with artistic director John Kenny) co-founder of Carnyx & Co, which for the past 20 years has been engaged both in the archaeology and reconstruction of ancient musical instruments from 2,000 years ago and in promoting the design and development of new instruments to enable musicians with disabilities to participate on a ‘level playing field’. He is currently also on the boards of the City Music Foundation (supporting and mentoring young musicians at the start of their careers), Tenebrae Choir and, as joint chair, Music Action International (working with refugees and asylum-seekers), winner of the coveted Guardian Charity Awards in 2016. Please click on the links to discover more about these organisations.
After spending a year in Orkney directing the 2005 St Magnus Festival, Ian returned to the City of London Festival as its director after a gap of 21 years and delivered his final CoLF programme in summer 2013. Since 2010, he has also been artistic director of both The Musical Brain (exploring frontiers of music, science and medicine) and the Setúbal Music Festival (Portugal): please follow these links for further information and also visit the Archive & Resources pages of this website for their programmes, past and present, which I curated.
Alongside these roles he found time to chair the editorial board and the steering committee for Choirbook for The Queen, a collection of 45 new anthems which was presented to Her Majesty in 2012. In addition to his honorary role as visiting professor to the Faculty of Business & Law at London Metropolitan University, he is an honorary Research Associate of the Institute of Musical Research (Royal Holloway, University of London) and a longstanding Fellow of the RSA.
For more details of Ian's resume of activities and clients, read on.
Articles & essays
Documentaries, talks & interviews
Festivals & conferences