Cheltenham Festivals has appointed Alison Balsom OBE as artistic director of Cheltenham Music Festival.

Balsom is a well-known ambassador of classical music, and Cheltenham Festivals said the appointment reflects its commitment to making the arts accessible to new audiences, in particular young people, through its developing education programme.

Balsom commented: “I am delighted to be joining Cheltenham Music Festival, which has such a strong commitment to bringing classical music to the widest possible audience, and to supporting young talent. I know that the board and management of Cheltenham Festivals share my belief in the importance of good music education, so I am very much looking forward to working alongside them to develop this side of the Festival’s work even further. Most of all, I relish the opportunity to invite the world’s greatest artists and ensembles to the Festival and to lead it joyfully into this next exciting chapter.”

Edward Gillespie, chair of Cheltenham Music Festival added: “It is a thrilling prospect for Cheltenham that Alison will succeed Meurig Bowen as Artistic Director. Her musical brilliance and engaging personality will delight the Festival’s many communities and help us to attract even more. I much look forward to this bright new era for the Festival.”

Balsom will take up her appointment in early 2018.