Orchestral Connections: thriving in an uncertain world

Session 1

Surviving and Thriving

Wednesday 8 September 2021
9am–10.15am (UK time)
6pm–7.15pm (AEST time)

Sharing the challenges and successes of orchestras across the world, examining national/international touring, changes to fundraising and philanthropy, and evolving audience attitudes.

Fiona Allan
Photo by Pamela Raith

Fiona Allan

Chief Executive & Artistic Director • Birmingham Hippodrome
Incoming CEO • Opera Australia

Fiona Allan has worked in positions of both artistic and executive leadership, with previous employers including Curve Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre, Sydney Film Festival, and Sydney Opera House. Fiona was appointed Artistic Director & Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome in October 2015 and since then has taken the organisation on a journey of transformation, more than doubling the number of people reached each year.

She is currently President of UK Theatre, Chair of the Midlands Regional Tourism Board, a Director of Women of the Year, West Midlands Growth Company, Stage One and a member of the ACE Midlands Regional Council, Creative Industries Federation Council and Midlands Engine Business Council. In October 2018 Fiona was presented with the inaugural Women of the Year “Woman with Edge” award and the following year the “Outstanding Business Woman of the Year” Award by the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce. In April 2021 she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands.


Rosemary Curtin

Violist • Sydney Symphony Orchestra
President • SSO Musicians Association

Rosemary Curtin is a violist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and currently President of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Musicians Association. With over 25 years’ experience working as an orchestral musician, Rosemary’s professional career commenced in Europe working with with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields following graduate studies in Munich. Rosemary also possesses a strong interest in orchestral management and has worked in administration roles both in the UK and Sydney. She has a Diploma in Management Studies from the University of Cambridge, UK and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Rosemary currently sits on the Classical Music, Opera and Choral Artform Advisory Board for Create NSW.

Richard Evans

Richard Evans

Managing Director • Australian Chamber Orchestra
President • Live Performance Australia

Richard Evans is Managing Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, President of Live Performance Australia, Chair of the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals and Principal of REĂ Consulting.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra is led by Richard Tognetti who in 2020 celebrated 30 years as Artistic Director. One of Australia’s major cultural exports, the ACO, a 17-piece string orchestra, performs regularly in concert halls around Australia and the world. Whether performing in New York, London or Wollongong, the ACO’s commitment to creating transformative musical experiences is unwavering.

An experienced CEO, non-executive director, cultural precinct leader, producer, and public servant, Richard Evans has held roles as Executive Director of The Bell Shakespeare Company, Managing Director of Sydney’s BridgeClimb, Executive Director of The Australian Ballet, Interim Managing Director of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and CEO of Sydney Opera House. 

Richard has a deep knowledge of and experience in managing creative companies, a strong entrepreneurial outlook and a solid record of commercial growth and government relations. Richard established REĂ Consulting Pty Ltd in early 2013, a specialist consulting firm to providing strategic advice to governments and the cultural sector.

Kathryn McDowell

Kathryn McDowell CBE

Managing Director • London Symphony Orchestra

Kathryn McDowell became Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2005. Building on the Orchestra’s reputation she has enriched the artistic programme with outstanding artists, including the appointment of Sir Simon Rattle; extended its profile internationally through partnerships in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australasia; developed its recording label LSO Live into the most successful orchestra-owned label in the world; deepened its Discovery programme at LSO St Luke’s as a leader in the field of Education & Community work; and built a more sustainable financial model. Kathryn has held prominent positions in leading cultural organisations including Music Director, Arts Council; Chief Executive of the Wales Millennium Centre; and roles in Scotland and her native Northern Ireland.

Kathryn holds honorary awards from three London music colleges and was named Incorporated Society of Musicians’ “Musician of the Year” 2017. She was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London 2009 and CBE in 2011.

Dougie Scarfe

Dougie Scarfe

Chief Executive • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Dougie Scarfe joined the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as Chief Executive in July 2012 after a successful career as performer, Manager and Director at Opera North.

Whilst at school, Dougie was Principal Horn in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, before studying at the Royal Northern College of Music and winning the Hiles Medal for Orchestral playing.

In 2000, a serious playing-related jaw condition ended Dougie’s performing career. After four years as Executive Assistant to the General Director at Opera North, in 2006 he became Chorus & Orchestra Director and Concerts Director and was widely credited with transforming the concert and recording programme at the Company.

At Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Dougie has led a period of high artistic achievement and greater financial resilience, combined with extraordinary reach and engagement with audiences and communities across 10,000 square miles of the South and South West. Dougie’s belief in the empowering role of music and culture in people’s lives, and drive towards a more inclusive world has helped BSO become internationally renowned for its work in this area.

Last December The Times recognised Dougie as a “Cultural Hero of 2020”, for his work to lead the BSO during and out of lockdown.

When not working, Dougie is a keen runner and in in the year before lockdown completed 15 Half Marathons, raising funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Session 2

Inclusive Orchestras

Tuesday 14 September 2021
9am–10.15am (UK time)
6pm–7.15pm (AEST time)

Examining diversity and inclusion on and off the stage and dissecting meaningful programs that have demonstrated real impact.

Lena Nahlous

Lena Nahlous

Executive Director • Diversity Arts Australia

Lena Nahlous is an experienced CEO, producer, curator, artistic director and facilitator with a long-term commitment to equity in the arts and creative sectors. Lena is currently the Executive Director of Diversity Arts Australia and host of The Colour Cycle podcast. She has over 20 years’ experience in arts, cultural and media organisations where she has developed artist brokerage and training programs focusing on artists, communities and creatives from culturally diverse, refugee and migrant backgrounds and young people. Lena’s work has had a strong focus on Western Sydney, particularly in her role as Executive Director of Information and Cultural Exchange for 11 years where she established initiatives like the Arab Film Festival, Switch digital media centre and Artfiles, an artist employment and brokerage program. Lena’s recent projects include the Fair Play capacity building initiative, the Creative Equity Toolkit, Pacesetters and I am Not a Virus.

Deborah Cheetham
Photo by Wayne Quilliam

Deborah Cheetham AO

Artistic Director • Short Black Opera
First Nations Chair • Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and Artistic Director, has been a leader and pioneer in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years. In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Cheetham was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

Deborah Cheetham’s list of commissions for major Australian ensembles including works for the Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and West Australian Symphony orchestras, the Australian String Quartet, Rubiks Collective, The Sydney Philharmonia, Plexus Collective, the Flinders Quartet and the Goldner Quartet.

Awards and acknowledgements include: Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award for service to music in Australia, the Merlyn Myer Prize for Composition, induction onto the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll and Women’s Honour Roll of Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre Life Time Membership, 2019 Melbourne Prize for Music, Limelight Magazine’s Critics Choice Artist of the Year and The Helpmann JC Williamson award for life time service to the arts.

In 2020 Deborah Cheetham was the 2020 Composer-in-residence for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and commenced her appointment at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University as Professor of Music practice.

In 2021 Deborah Cheetham began a five year appointed as First Nations Chair of Melbourne Symphony orchestra.

Morwenna Collett
Photo by Will Taylor

Morwenna Collett

Arts consultant specialising in diversity, access and inclusion

An accomplished leader, consultant and facilitator with 15 years’ experience in government, the arts, not-for-profit and university sectors, Morwenna Collett has worn the hats of CEO, Board Director, senior leadership team member, project manager, lecturer, researcher, trainer and advisor. Currently working as an arts consultant specialising in strategy, diversity, access and inclusion, Morwenna is a member of access advisory committees with the City of Sydney, Sydney Festival, Perth Festival and Sydney Fringe. She has previously been the CEO of Accessible Arts, the Chair of the Sydney Arts Managers Advisory Group and has held various senior management roles at the Australia Council for the Arts. She recently completed a Churchill Fellowship, exploring inclusive music programs, venues and festivals which actively engage disabled people across the USA, UK and Ireland. Her work is influenced by her own lived experience as a musician with disability. More information at www.morwennacollett.com.

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller MBE

Consultant and broadcaster

Andrew Miller is a cultural consultant and broadcaster and an influential champion of disabled people. He belongs to the first generation of disabled presenters of British television, went on to make arts documentaries and later became the first wheelchair-user to run a major UK arts venue.

He is a National Council member of Arts Council England, a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a trustee of Welsh National Opera and previously served on the boards of The Arts Council of Wales and digital arts agency The Space. He is a member of BAFTA and chairs the BFI Disability Screen Advisory Forum. In 2020 he co-founded the UK Disability Arts Alliance, #WeShallNotBeRemoved and co-wrote their Seven Inclusive Principles for recovery.

Andrew was the UK Government’s first Disability Champion for Arts & Culture, establishing the role as a powerful campaigning platform for greater inclusion across the arts, museums and film. His pioneering career has been recognised by the National Diversity Awards, The Shaw Trust’s Disability Power 100, The Stage 100 and in the 2021 New Year Honours.

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE

Founder and Artistic Director • Chineke!

Double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where she is a Professor and Fellow, and with Franco Petracchi in Rome. She has been Principal bass player, chamber musician and soloist with many of Europe’s leading orchestras. Chi-chi is the Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation, which encourages diversity in the classical music industry through its orchestras, the Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Junior Orchestra, and its community engagement work. Chi-chi has been instrumental in creating opportunities for talented Black and Minority Ethnic musicians through concerts, commissioning new works, championing historical BME composers, and by establishing scholarships with the major UK conservatoires.

The ABO/RPS Salomon Prize, which celebrates “unsung heroes” working in the ranks of British orchestras is Chi-chi’s brainchild. In 2012 Barrie Gavin directed a documentary film about Chi-chi’s career, Tales from the Bass Line and in 2018 she featured on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs. As a broadcaster Chi-chi has presented for BBC Radio 3 & 4, BBC TV Proms Extra, BBC 2 TV Classical Star, and BBC 4’s All Together Now, the Great Orchestra Challenge. She also presented an award-nominated Sky Arts documentary profiling composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and hosted a Scala Radio show featuring guests from Chineke! Orchestra.

An Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Honorary Doctor at Chichester University and the Open University, Chi-chi was awarded the OBE in 2017 for Services to Music. She has won Black British Business Awards “Person of the Year”; an ABO Award for “most important contribution to orchestral life of the UK”; the Commonwealth Cultural Enterprise Award for Women in the Arts and a Creative Industries Award at Variety Catherine Awards. Chi-chi has featured in the Top 10 of BBC Woman’s Hour, Women in Music Power List, the Royal Academy of Music exhibition Hitting the Right Note: Amazing Women of the Academy, the 2019, 2020 and 2021. In 2021 she was made a Visiting Fellow of Jesus College Cambridge; Chi-chi is featured in the 2020 book of 100 Great Black Britons, voted to the Powerlist of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Chi-chi advocates the importance of music in everyone’s lives.

Session 3

Music That Reflects Us

Wednesday 22 September 2021
9am–10.15am (UK time)
6pm–7.15pm (AEST time)

How do orchestras meet the challenge of programming music that audiences want to hear, while also reflecting our people and our time?

Cathy Graham

Cathy Graham OBE

Director of Music • British Council

After studying Music at Birmingham University, Cathy Graham spent two years at the Royal Northern College of Music studying piano accompaniment. Fourteen years as a professional musician in Stockholm included work as a teacher, vocal coach and repetiteur with opera and theatre companies. 

Returning to the UK in 1992, Cathy quickly established herself on the London music scene, working for ENO Contemporary Music Studio and Almeida Opera, and as an Artists’ Manager. In 1994 she became Executive Director of SPNM (Society for the Promotion of New Music), guiding organisational change, and her tenure culminated in SPNM receiving the Prudential Award for the Arts. From 1997 to 2006 she was Managing Director of the London Sinfonietta, during which time the ensemble toured extensively nationally and internationally and saw its repertoire, profile and audience broaden and increase. She also initiated the ensemble’s own record label and was engaged in leading the move to a new multi-purpose venue at Kings Cross which now acts as a permanent home alongside the ensemble’s South Bank Centre artistic residency.

Since November 2006 she has been Director of Music at the British Council in London working across all genres of music on projects which create trust and understanding between the UK and the rest of the world.

She is Chair of Streetwise Opera, the award-winning charity that uses music as a means to help homeless people move forward with their lives.

In December 2018 Cathy was awarded an Honorary RNCM from the Royal Northern College of Music in recognition of her significant support of the UK music sector. In 2019 she was awarded the prestigious ABO Award from the Association of British Orchestras which is presented annually to the individual or institution considered by the membership to have made the most important contribution to the orchestral life of the UK. In October 2020, Cathy received the honour of OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) – as part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours list – for “services to music and cultural relations”. 

Claire Edwardes
Photo by Nat Cartney

Claire Edwardes

Artistic Director • Ensemble Offspring
Percussion soloist

From the set of Play School to the mainstage at the Sydney Opera House, Claire Edwardes is “the sorceress of percussion” (City News, Canberra). The only Australian to win the “APRA Art Music Award for Excellence by an Individual” three times, Claire leaps between her role as Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring and concerto performances with all of the Australian and New Zealand orchestras plus numerous European orchestras.

Add her genre-spanning solo concerts, teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium, a broad spectrum of collaborations, premiering hundreds of new works by composers including Harrison Birtwistle and Elena Kats-Chernin, to passionately advocating for gender equity in music and you begin to appreciate her astonishing energy.

Perhaps her most significant contribution, beyond her endless quest for excellence in performance, is in breaking down the barriers between art music and audiences, through her enthusiasm for bringing new music to unexpected places – including bowling clubs and old power stations.

Daniel Kidane

Daniel Kidane


Daniel Kidane’s music has been performed extensively across the UK and abroad as well as being broadcast on BBC Radio 3, described by the Financial Times as “quietly impressive” and by The Times as “tautly constructed” and “vibrantly imagined”.

Daniel began his musical education at the age of eight when he started playing the violin.

Recent projects include the premiere of his orchestral work Zulu by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra; a new work for the CBSO Youth Orchestra, which is inspired by Grime music; a chamber work for the Cheltenham Festival which draws inspiration from Jungle music and a new type of vernacular; a song cycle commissioned by Leeds Lieder and inspired by the poetry of Ben Okri; and a new piece entitled Dream Song for the baritone Roderick Williams and the Chineke! Orchestra which was played at the reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in April 2018.

Recent works include Woke, which was premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor Sakari Oramo at the Last Night of the Proms in September 2019. Further works premiered during the Covid-19 lockdowns include The Song Thrush and the Mountain Ash for Huddersfield Choral Society with text by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Dappled Light for violinists Maxine Kwok and Julian Gil Rodriguez for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Shorts series, and Be Still for the Manchester Camerata, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and has subsequently been performed by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Christus factus est written for Oxford’s Merton College Choir.

Recent commissions for Michala Petri (recorder) and Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) were released on CD and premiered in the UK at Wigmore Hall. Works for members of the London Symphony Orchestra, which have focused on multiculturalism, and an orchestral work for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, motivated by the eclectic musical nightlife in Manchester, also received critical acclaim.

Upcoming premieres include works for Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his siblings for this year’s BBC Proms; a new solo cello work for Alisa Weilerstein; and a new large-scale orchestral piece for the London Symphony Orchestra.


Gretchen La Roche

Gretchen La Roche

Chief Executive Officer • Chamber Music New Zealand

Gretchen La Roche began her career as a professional orchestral clarinettist and contemporary music specialist. She has subsequently worked in a variety of arts management roles including Chief Executive and Artistic Manager for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Senior Programme Adviser (Music) for Creative New Zealand (Arts Council of New Zealand) and Director of the Gisborne International Music Competition.

Gretchen has recently been appointed Chief Executive for Chamber Music New Zealand and is currently a trustee for Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival and the Dame Malvina Major Foundation. She has also been appointed to Creative New Zealand’s Arts Advocacy Advisory panel, Te Rōpū Mana Toi.

Adam Szabo
Photo by Robin Clewly

Adam Szabo

Chief Executive and co-founder • Manchester Collective

Adam Szabo is the Chief Executive and co-founder of Manchester Collective. Known for their experimental programming and daring collaborations, the work of the Collective has expanded at breakneck speed since their formation in 2016. They play in concert halls, warehouses and factory spaces across Europe and the UK, performing a combination of cutting edge contemporary music, classical masterpieces, and staged work to a hungry, new audience. Prior to his work with the Collective, Adam enjoyed a busy and varied career as an orchestral cellist. In this capacity, he worked as Guest Principal with many of the finest orchestras in the UK, including the Welsh National Opera, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orchestra of Opera North.

Session 4

Now More Than Ever

Tuesday 28 September 2021
9am–10.15am (UK time)
6pm–7.15pm (AEST time)

More than ever before, education, outreach and community are vital to the survival of orchestras — what can we learn from each other?

Steve Pickett

Steve Pickett

Education Director • The Hallé Orchestra

Steve Pickett is the Education Director of the Hallé, a position he has held since 2002. He is also the chair of the Education Managers Group at the Association of British Orchestras and a trustee of The Sixteen. Previous to joining the Hallé, Steve was the Principal Contra Bassoon in the Ulster Orchestra for twenty years and whilst now he no longer plays, Steve’s main musical contribution at the Hallé is as a composer and arranger.

Since 2002 the Hallé’s Education programme has more than tripled in size and now is recognised as one of the broadest and most exciting in the country. The Hallé now annually engages over 60,000 participants, 30-50,000 of these are young people under the age of 18. Through the Orchestra’s Come and Play with the Hallé Programme, over 18,000 children and young people on the Whole Class Ensemble Teaching Programme perform alongside the Hallé every year.

Steve is a firm believer in the ability of the arts and professional artists to change people’s lives for the better. His career in this field has spanned over thirty years, as a performer, composer, practitioner and strategic manager.

Lucy Galliard

Lucy Galliard

Director of Learning and Engagement • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Lucy Galliard grew up in Norfolk where, from a young age, she was heavily involved in the local amateur music making scene. She studied piano, trumpet and cello; performing with various chamber ensembles, orchestras, wind bands as well as being a regular trumpeter in pit bands for local music theatre groups.

After a gap year spent working in a classical CD store, Lucy went on to read music at the University of York, and complete an MA in Film Music Studies at the University of Leeds.

Lucy began her career in the arts with a community arts organisation in Doncaster before taking up the role of Administrator for Live Music Now Yorkshire & Lincolnshire in 2003. She spent the next ten years with Live Music Now, progressing through the organisation to become the Acting Executive Director in 2012.

Lucy’s experience of working with Live Music Now instilled a commitment to bringing high quality live performance to all, and an understanding of the impact and benefits participation in music making has on audiences of all ages and abilities. She was also able to work creatively with emerging professional musicians, and developed many programmes of activity over the years, one of which was shortlisted for an RPS Award.

Lucy joined the CBSO as Director of Learning & Engagement in May 2014 and leads the teams responsible for the CBSO’s three symphonic choruses, CBSO Youth Orchestra and all the education and outreach programmes. With a focus on enabling people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to access and benefit from working with the CBSO, Lucy is developing the range of programmes the CBSO offers to our local communities, schools and talented young musicians; providing opportunities for the CBSO’s exceptional musicians to share their creativity and passion for music making with new audiences.

Thomas Hamill

Thomas Hamill

Director • APO Connecting

Thomas Hamill is the Director of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s community outreach and education programme, APO Connecting, a position he has held since moving to New Zealand in 2017. Thomas is also the current head of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s Community Engagement programme a position he works alongside his APO commitments. Prior to working with professional orchestras Thomas was Director of Performing Arts at the Merchants’ Academy in Bristol, England and was awarded the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence national Best School Music Department in 2016 for the work at the school.

The APO Connecting programme engages over 30,000 members of the community across Auckland annually and has over 60 schools in its partnership programme. Alongside this there are burgeoning partnerships in the programme with Sistema Aotearoa, the University of Auckland and more recently the youth justice sector.

Thomas has been involved in using music as a transformational tool for much of his professional career and strongly believes that music and musicians have the power to inspire, heal, and unlock the potential of anyone who chooses to interact with the medium. Thomas enjoys focussing his work on making music as accessible and multi-dimensional as possible and tries to live the mantra that music is for everyone.

Cassandra Lake

Cassandra Lake

Director of Education • Musica Viva Australia

Cassandra Lake has considerable knowledge and understanding of the Australian Performing Arts industry. She is passionate about creating opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to engage with the creative arts, and has developed award winning music education and community outreach programs. 

Cassandra is Director of Education at Musica Viva Australia overseeing programs that reach 280,000 students each year. In 2020 Musica Viva In Schools pivoted to online delivery and Cassandra continues to champion the role digital platforms play in delivering music education programs in a Covid-conscious world. Prior to joining Musica Viva, Cassandra was Executive Manager, Community Engagement at the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, where she led development of their education and community outreach portfolio to be the largest of any of the Australian Orchestras.

Cassandra is a regular guest speaker at Conferences and Seminars. For many years she was a weekly guest presenter on ABC Radio.

Matthew Swann

Matthew Swann

Chief Executive • City of London Sinfonia

Matthew Swann is Chief Executive of City of London Sinfonia (CLS), and since joining the orchestra in 2012 has transformed it into a participation driven ensemble that engaged with wider societal issues and gender/ethnicity diverse guest artists in its performance activity. In 2021 he was one of three authors of Orchestras in Healthcare, a UK wide survey into all orchestral activity in healthcare and wellbeing settings, which called on UK classical music to better engage with audiences in these settings. Previous to CLS, Matthew was a producer at the Roundhouse in Camden, and in development at the Barbican Centre. Matthew will shortly be leaving CLS to take up two roles, as Director of Recruitment for Achates Philanthropy, working with performing arts organisations on inclusion driven senior appointments, and as a co-founder of Your Turn Collective, a research, development and incubation start-up empowering music creators from underrepresented backgrounds in classical music. He is chair of the Family Arts Campaign. 

The Orchestral Connections symposium is supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons, the British Council, the Australian Government and Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22.

Last updated 7/9/2023 © Symphony Services International