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Britain’s most troubled orchestra gets an Italian boss

The Ulster Orchestra, facing reduction to chamber size, has used the Christmas lull to slip a new chief executive into its least comfortable seat. Dr Rosa Solinas was until her appointment head of music at Arts Council Northern Ireland and knows the orch’s problems all too well, since one-third of her former budget went on paying its bills.

Before that, she was artistic director of Opera on the Edge. Italian born, she has lived in Northern Ireland since 2004 and has four children.

Here’s the official statement, issued on 18 December but unreported (as may have been intended) in any other media:

Following an extensive national and international search, the Ulster Orchestra
Society has announced the appointment of a new chief executive.
Rosa Solinas, currently the Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern
Ireland, will take up the post in January.
Sir George Bain, Chairman of the Ulster Orchestra Society, welcomed the
appointment of Dr Solinas as an enormous boost to the organisation at a time
of real opportunity.
“Every publicly funded organisation has had to meet the challenge of reduced
resources and we are no different. However, within that challenge we believe
there is a significant opportunity for the Orchestra to take a leadership role in
the development of the musical culture of the region.
“In our new Chief Executive we were looking for someone with an
entrepreneurial spirit, who was totally committed to the development of
orchestral music in Northern Ireland, and who had vision and leadership in
terms of growing new audiences as well as inspiring our players, our staff and
our musical partners at home and abroad.
“Having had a very strong field of national and international candidates to
choose from for this post, we are totally confident that in Rosa Solinas we
have someone who will drive this Orchestra forward with passion and
Rosa has been Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for the
last three years. Her qualifications include a Master’s degree in Development
and Innovation Economics from Bologna University and a Doctorate in
Musicology from Oxford University, as well as a conservatoire diploma. She
has worked in the music industry in a number of different capacities, from
academia to artist management. Since moving to Northern Ireland in 2004,
Rosa has held the positions of Publications Editor for the Wexford Festival
Opera, Director of Special Projects for Opera Theatre Company, Dublin, and
Artistic Director of the Opera Fringe Festival in Downpatrick.
Speaking ahead of taking up the post, Rosa was very clear that her priority
was to ensure the entire community of Northern Ireland shares in the benefits
of the outstanding resource that is the Ulster Orchestra:
“It is crucial that we all recognise the cultural and economic importance of
supporting a vibrant resident orchestra in Northern Ireland.

“Certainly we will have to be innovative and creative in how we manage our
future but in that we are no different from any other Arts organisation or
indeed the public and private bodies that support us.
“I am ready for the challenges ahead. I have a vision for the development of
music in Northern Ireland, and the Ulster Orchestra is central to that vision.
We have much to do in developing new audiences and ensuring that our
outreach to schools, the wider community, and our contribution as cultural
ambassadors is recognised and celebrated. And I am eager to begin doing
Notes to Editor
 The Ulster Orchestra Society Limited is a company limited by
guarantee. The Orchestra is funded by the Arts Council of Northern
Ireland, the BBC, Belfast City Council, commercial sponsorship,
individual donations, donations from trusts and foundations, and box
office receipts.
 The Orchestra employs some 80 persons, of whom 63 are musicians.
17 administrative staff are currently organised in three departments:
Finance and Administration, Marketing and Development, and

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