Saxton Bampfylde Recruits CEO for Britten Pears Arts

May 8, 2024 – Following an extensive search process, U.K.-based executive recruiter Saxton Bampfylde has recruited Andrew Comben as the new CEO of Britten Pears Arts. He succeeds Roger Wright CBE who leaves Britten Pears Arts after 10 years at the helm. Mr. Comben starts his new position in September. “Our appointment of Andrew brings back to Britten Pears Arts someone we know well,” said Simon Robey, chair of the board of trustees. “After he left us in 2003, he enjoyed success at the Wigmore Hall and, in particular, has led Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival with distinction for the last 16 years.”

“He has built loyal audiences in Brighton, has a great love for and commitment to the arts, and is passionate about working in the community and with young people – all things that are central to Britten Pears Arts’ work,” Mr. Robey said. “There will be other occasions to mark Roger’s truly exceptional contribution to Britten Pears Arts; today is a day to celebrate the appointment of such a wonderful successor. The whole board joins me in welcoming him.”

Mr. Comben joins Britten Pears Arts from Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival where he has been Chief Executive since 2008. Originally from Australia, he has worked in the arts in the U.K. since 1993, and in senior leadership roles at Wigmore Hall (head of artistic planning) and Britten Pears Arts (director, Britten Pears Young Artist Program).

At Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Mr. Comben has established the annual guest director model for Brighton Festival, with artists such as Anish Kapoor, Laurie Anderson, Kae Tempest, Lemn Sissay, and Frank Cottrell-Boyce. He has also overseen the expansion of the organization’s work with communities and young people, including the operation of music education hub Create Music across Brighton & Hove and East Sussex, and the restoration and redevelopment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre into world class spaces for the performing arts.

“The legacy of Britten and Pears, and the work of the organization that has grown from their vision, is a beacon for artists and audiences and for anyone passionate about the role music and the arts can play in society,” said Mr. Comben. “I am honored to become the next chief executive of Britten Pears Arts, and I look forward to working with its brilliant staff team and board to develop its next chapter together. I want to pay tribute to my predecessors, particularly Roger Wright, for their dedication to establishing the conditions for artists to do their best work and I look forward to building on their achievements.”

Related: Saxton Bampfylde Finds CEO for U.K.’s Film Distributors’ Association

Britten Pears Arts is a large music education organization based in Suffolk, England. It aims to continue the legacy of composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, singer Peter Pears, and to promote the enjoyment and experience of music for all. 

Employee Owned Business

Saxton Bampfylde is an employee owned business founded in 1986 and is now one of the world’s leading independent executive search firms and leadership consultancies. With offices in London and Edinburgh, the firm brings a partnership approach to its work and has a strong belief in open and transparent communication. Saxton Bampfylde’s clients include FTSE 100 companies and blue-chip multinationals, across government and academia, through to foundation trust hospitals, arts institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. The firm is a founding member of Panorama, a global community of over 400 leadership experts working together to promote a diverse perspective of leadership.

Stephen Bampfylde is co-founder and chairman of Saxton Bampfylde. He began his career working for IBM and Whitehall, where he spent nearly 10 years before moving into top-level executive search. For 27 years he has been involved in the recruitment of executives to senior positions across all sectors. He helped establish the worldwide professional association AESC in Europe and was its international director for a number of years. Outside executive search, he has been involved with the advisory boards of the business schools at Cambridge and City universities, is a trustee of the Yvonne Arnaud Theater, and is former chairman of the Guildford Cathedral Council.

Past Search

Last year, Saxton Bampfylde placed James Ainscough as the new CEO of the Royal Albert Hall in London. Craig Hassall stepped down from the role in December. Dan Freeman, Royal Albert Hall’s chief operating officer, will continue to act as interim CEO until Mr. Ainscough starts in the late spring.

Mr. Ainscough joins the Royal Albert Hall from Help Musicians, a charity for professional musicians of all genres, both in work and in retirement, where he is CEO. The pandemic was truly a crisis for many musicians and, under Mr. Ainscough’s leadership, Help Musicians gave essential support, including distributing £20m of financial hardship funding, providing a multi-million-pound career-rebuilding support program, and launching the Music Minds Matter charity providing mental health care for the entire music industry.

Related: Saxton Bampfylde Recruits Vice Chancellor and President for Loughborough University 

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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