Joe Howson is a versatile and award-winning pianist based in London, working in a range of settings including
solo recitals, chamber music, orchestral playing, repetiteurship, pedagogy, dance accompaniment, outreach
work and improvisation. Joe’s broad and adventurous solo repertoire spans from the baroque to the present.
He is particularly interested in the neglected piano repertoire of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,
from neoclassical and jazz-influenced music of the 1920s to post-minimalist and crossover genres of
He completed his MMus studies in 2019 at the Royal College of Music with Danny Driver, where he was
awarded prizes for Lieder and English Song accompaniment, contemporary music, was finalist in the Chappell
Medal competition, and performed concertos with the New Perspectives Ensemble and Wind Orchestra. Prior
to his time at RCM, he was an undergraduate at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, where he now works as a staff
pianist for the vocal and wind departments. He has also trained with the BBC Symphony Orchestra ‘Pathways’
Scheme, Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, British Youth Opera, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
NEXT scheme, London Sinfonietta Academy, and the Philharmonia MMSF Instrumental Fellowship.
Recent performance highlights include: with Das Neue Ensemble in Hannover, multiple chamber performances
with Sinfonia Cymru, solo recitals at the Brighton and Lichfield Festivals, and residency as the Robert Turnbull
Piano Fellow at New Music on the Point in Vermont.
He is grateful to have received support from the Craxton Memorial Trust, Philharmonia MMSF, the Countess of
Munster Musical Trust, RCM Mike Rimmer Scholarship, and the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
Olivia Jago is a Welsh violinist currently based in Shropshire. Having graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2019, she has since worked with orchestras across the U.K. including the Orchestra of the Swan, London Sinfonietta, Manchester Camerata, Sinfonia Cymru and the English Symphony Orchestra. For the last two years she has been part of the BCMG Next Musician Cohort and is really excited to performing today with her colleagues from the same project. Olivia is currently taught by Zoe Beyers, leader of the BBC Philharmonic.
Beth completed her postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2021, studying with Nicholas Cox, Raphael Schenkel, and Chris Swann, graduating with a Distinction. She enjoys orchestral playing, recently performing with the Halle in their season finale concert performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Sir Mark Elder. She has also performed this year with the Orchestra of the Light Music Society and Northern Film Orchestra on clarinet and bass clarinet. She is a regular dep in the orchestras at Chetham’s School of Music, last month playing E flat Clarinet in Stravinsky’s the Rite of Spring with conductor Ben Palmer. Beth enjoys contemporary music, and for 2021-2 was a NEXT musician on the side-by-side course with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Through this she has performed all over Birmingham, including at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, CBSO Centre, and Symphony Hall, performing on clarinet, basset clarinet, basset horn, and bass clarinet. Beth has played in composer workshops with Emily Howard and Michael Zev Gordon, leading to Beth playing the concert premiere of Michael Zev Gordon’s Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet in April 2021.
Rosie enjoys a varied musical career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player and teacher. She is especially passionate about the integration of music into all communities and enjoys working with organisations such as TiPP (Theatre in Prisons and Probation), SoundUp Arts, The Messengers, Hackney Music Service, Hanson Community Arts and the Benedetti Foundation. In 2016, she began her undergraduate at the Royal Northern College of Music where she studied with Hannah Roberts and Jennifer Langridge. She is currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Timothy Lowe.
Rosie is a founder of the Larisa Piano Trio, who are an award-winning chamber group formed in 2016 at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester. Holders of the prestigious St James’s Prize as well as the Christopher Rowland Chamber Music Ensemble of the Year Award, they have had many competitive successes. The trio were invited to play in Wigmore Hall in a masterclass with György Pauk. Rosie has been accepted onto the NEXT scheme with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, with whom she performed in Birmingham Symphony Hall, BSO and the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Highlights of her orchestral experience include being invited to play with The Manchester Camerata as part of their professional experience scheme and playing in Leeds Town Hall as part of Nicola Benedetti’s Four Seasons Tour. She played again with Benedetti in a string orchestra under Leonard Elschenbroich, which was featured on Classic FM. Always eager to combine her love of the arts with her music making, in 2019 Rosie created the film and musical score ‘Lines’. She has recently composed a piece written for solo cello in collaboration with Colin Blundell, which she recently premiered the Belfry Centre for Music and Art in 2020.
Liz Grant is an Assistant Principal of the University of Edinburgh, the Professor of Global Health and Development and the Director of the University’s Global Health Academy. Liz co-directs the university wide Global Compassion Initiative, on the science and practice of compassion Her research spans global and planetary health and healthcare in contexts of poverty and conflict – and compassion as the value base of the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and a Fellow the Royal College of
Physicians in Edinburgh (RCPE).
She sits on the Scottish Government NHS Global Citizenship Board, and on the Steering Group for Health Information for All. Previously Liz was the Senior Health Advisor to the Scottish Government’s International Development Team working primarily in Malawi. She has worked for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in the Public Health Directorate in Lothian. She is an advisor to a number of global health charities, and serves as a trustee for CBM Scotland and a member of the One Health FIELD work for Syrian refugees.
Derek Mitchell was born and raised in Ayrshire and has spent most of his working life in local government in a variety of management and public policy positions. He worked for the first Scottish Government as a Policy Advisor before joining COSLA in 2005, where he became a Chief Officer leading on work with both the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as other key stakeholders. He became Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) in August 2017. CAS is the national support organisation for Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland which has over 2500 volunteers and 1000 staff. The values and ethos of the service have stood the test of time and Derek’s passion and drive is to give a voice to people who otherwise would not be heard and ensuring policy makers understand the real needs of many people in Scotland when making decisions. He lives in Edinburgh.
Jason Leitch has worked for the Scottish Government since 2007 and in January 2015 was appointed as The National Clinical Director in the Health and Social Care Directorate. He is a Scottish Government Director and a member of the Health and Social Care Management Board. He is one of the senior team responsible for the NHS in Scotland and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Dundee. Jason was the 2011 UK Clinician of the Year and is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He was a 2005-06 Quality Improvement Fellow at IHI, in Boston, sponsored by the Health Foundation.
Jason is also a trustee of the UK wing of the Indian Rural Evangelical Fellowship which runs orphanages in southeast India. He has a doctorate from the University of Glasgow, an MPH from Harvard and is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Jason was appointed to NHS England review group led by Don Berwick looking into the patient safety elements of the Francis Inquiry
Jenny Walter is Interim Director of Programmes, Mercy Corps. Jenny began working in humanitarian programmes in 2004 in northern Uganda, followed by roles in Sudan and South Sudan with UNHCR; and Sri Lanka with Norwegian People's Aid. Jenny began working for Mercy Corps in 2008, and has held several programme roles including Senior Programme Officer and Programmes & Partnerships Advisor. In 2014, Jenny led the agency Protection strategy in collaboration with Humanitarian Leadership Response and Gender Equality & Social Inclusion teams which helped further prioritise safeguarding and protection within the organisation. In 2020, Jenny took on the role as Senior Partnerships Advisor, including providing expertise on UK government requirements to Gender, Social Inclusion & Protection.
Jenny has an MA in International Peace and Security from King’s College London.
Dr Lesley Orr is a historian and activist for gender and social justice, and an honorary fellow of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Edinburgh. Her current research interests (all with a focus on 20th century Scotland) include war resistance and peace movements, the history of Women’s Aid, and the historical relationship between faith, religious institutions and feminism. She teaches on the gendering of religion, violence and peacebuilding, and is currently working on a biography of Red Clydeside war resistance leader Helen Crawfurd. She has extensive experience of working in NGOs and the public sector, including the Scottish Government. Lesley has had longstanding involvement in movements to challenge gender inequality, violence and abuse in faith communities and wider society. She was consultant to the World Council of Churches Decade to Overcome Violence 2001-2010, is engaged in initiatives for active citizenship in Scotland and a longtime member of the Iona Community, which is committed to action for just and sustainable peace. She chairs Stellar Quines, the intersectional feminist theatre company.
Live Music Now was founded by legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1977, along with his close friend and philanthropist, Sir Ian Stoutzker. During the Second World War, Yehudi Menuhin played for the Allied Forces, often in the most challenging of circumstances, and directly experienced how music could benefit those who were sick, lonely, traumatised and reconcile differences between people and nations. learn more
Lesley Anne Derks graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1999 with a BA (hons) Fine Art Drawing and Painting. Her early work was inspired by the lights of the Grangemouth petrochemical complex and this influence led to her painting predominantly cityscapes at night. More recently she has begun to explore lights in a different way, focusing on interiors, in particular chandeliers and the different lights they can convey. She has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and abroad with her work appearing in leading magazines and newspapers such as The Strand Magazine, Artists and Illustrators, Fine Art Collector and the Scotsman. She regularly works to commission and has produced work for Scottish Power and the Royal Navy.
On the effects lockdown had on her work, she says:
‘Art was my solace throughout the pandemic as my mum sadly took ill at the beginning of the first lockdown and never fully recovered dying the beginning of 2021. A week after her death I found out I had caught Covid. The tragedy of losing my mum and the after-effects of Covid, made me seriously reflect on life and the fragility of it. Art is an integral part of my life, but my experience throughout the pandemic made me realise I had all these idea/plans that I had put on the back burner over the years. When the first lockdown was imminent, I entered an annual art competition I had always meant to enter and never got round to, and I got to the final. I also lecture and the way I taught changed substantially throughout the pandemic; adapting to teaching practical activities online was a huge learning curve and took a lot of time. It was a bit of a juggling act trying to adapt to these new experiences, but I realised I still had to address all those ideas I had for my art and bring these to fruition. I had always wished to paint an image of an interior I took in Budapest, so I started that, not for any show but just for me. I had sheets of aluminium I always intended to experiment on so began exploring that. I also had been looking at a course on resin for years, so I finally booked and attended it last year. I’m excited to see where all these ideas will take my art!’
Virajita Singh is Associate Vice Provost in the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) where she brings her expertise in design thinking, and partnership studies to catalyze and support equity and diversity work of colleges and other academic units at the University of Minnesota. learn more
Angela Rodel is an established literary translator based in Sofia with a BA from Yale University and an MA from University of California, Los Angeles in Linguistics. Her accolades include the 2016 National Translation Award for Georgi Gospodinov’s novel The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter, 2015) from the American Literary Translators Association.
Pete’s journey through theatre began as a young lighting specialist at the then brand new Royal Northern College of Music before moving on to being Production Manager for the Sixty Nine Theatre Company at the Manchester Royal Cotton Exchange before heading to Scotland “ for a few months .” learn more
Janis Hart is an Edinburgh-based artist, designer and filmmaker who graduated in Fine Art and Theatre Design from the Slade School of Art, University of London. Her freelance artistic practice includes site-specific installations and stage designs for theatre, dance and opera productions, as well as leading contemporary art and drama workshops. learn more
Robert Rae is one of Scotland’s leading theatre and film director and writers. He chooses to develop his work through socially engaged practice that aligns with his own political and activist commitments. His expertise has taken him all over the world sharing and developing his methodology. His career spans over 30 years during which time he was Producer for 7:84 England, Artistic Director and CEO of Theatre Workshop Scotland for 18yrs which changed the landscape in Scotland for disabled artists in particular, International Artist in Residence for The Playhouse, Derry, Director for his own theatre company OurLand Productions and is Co-Director of Art27scotland which is part of the national Culture Collective programme focussing specifically on arts and human rights.
Shona was born in Redcar in 1966. Educated at Alva Academy, she went on to graduate from Glasgow University with a Social Sciences MA and Jordanhill College with a Postgraduate Certificate in Community Education. Previously she worked for Glasgow City Council’s Social Work Department. learn more
Jarel is a British-Born Jamaican and grew up in West London where, with his elder sister he was raised by his Grandmother. Sensing an early call to ordained ministry, Jarel began preaching in the Ealing Trinity Circuit of the Methodist Church in 2006 and later trained for ordination at Wesley House, Cambridge from 2010-2013. learn more
Three years ago, Mahmoud Al Khurd was a prizewinner in a competition sponsored by the Network of Photographers for Palestine (NPP) involving over 100 entries. Now galleries across Scotland, from Edinburgh to Inverness will be hosting an exhibition of photographs by this internationally acclaimed Palestinian photographer during the months of August and September. learn more
Michael Rosen was born in 1946 in North London. One of the best-known figures in the children’s book world, he is renowned for his work as a poet, performer, broadcaster and scriptwriter. As an author and by selecting other writers’ works for anthologies he has been involved with over 140 books. He lectures and teaches in universities on children’s literature, reading and writing. learn more
As an independent curator, producer and writer, Iliyana explores the relationship between public art, activism and creative practices. Her current research interests focus on peacebuilding and the arts, environmental humanities, artists’ moving image culture, women artists, literature in translation and artists’ residencies.
Iliyana’s current curatorial projects include We Refuse to be Scapegoats – a solo exhibition by Pam Skelton at P21 Gallery, London; Groundwork for Embedded Arts Practice – curatorial residency at Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; Screen.dance – Scotland’s Festival of Dance on Screen at Citymoves Dance Agency, Aberdeen; Hidden Letters – poetry activism, typography and urban gardens interventions at St John’s Church, Edinburgh; Thistles, Sunflowers and Dreamscapes – a solo exhibition by Diana Savova at Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, and Windows, Screens and Gardens – a hybrid exhibition by artists-in-residence at Abbeyhill Primary School, Edinburgh.
Recently, Iliyana undertook associate curatorships at Horsecross Arts, Perth; Moray House School of Education and Sport, the University of Edinburgh; New Media Scotland; Stills Centre for Photography, Edinburgh; ARC Projects, Edinburgh and Sofia; Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool; Soros Centre for the Arts, Sofia; and Video Data Bank, Chicago and New York.
Iliyana holds a MPhil in Curating Contemporary Art from Liverpool John Moores University and a MLitt in English and American Studies, as well as in History and Theory of Culture from the University of Sofia. Iliyana is a board member of Colony of Artists, Friends of Pskov and Traditional Dance Forum Scotland. She has also served as the Honorary Cultural Attaché at the Consulate of the Republic of Bulgaria in Scotland.
David Manderson is a writer and former academic. He is currently chair of the Writers for Peace committee. He has published short stories, essays and poems in a wide variety of small magazines and anthologies. His novel Lost Bodies (Kennedy & Boyd) was published in 2011. He ran the Real to Reel Short Film Festival at the Glasgow Film Theatre in Glasgow until 1999 and Nerve Magazine until 2001. Later, a creative practice PhD took him into academia where he published articles and textbooks on Scottish films, creative writing and walking, and Scottish Miserablism. His poem Expedition, animated by Samantha Hendry, won a Royal Television Student Award in 2019. In 2017 he was the recipient of a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish Book Trust. He is currently completing a book on the work and life of Alan Sharp for Peter Lang publishers
Leela Soma is a writer and active member of Scottish PEN. Her latest crime novel, Murder at the Mela, explores tensions within Glasgow’s Asian communities and between diverse groups in the city.
Her poetry and short stories have been published in a number of anthologies and publications and she won the Margaret Thompson Davis Trophy, for the first 10,000 words of her first novel Twice Born. Leela has been encouraged in her writing by none other than Willy Maley, Professor of Renaissance Studies (English Literature), University of Glasgow, who commended her in his book Discovering Scottish Literature, published by Scottish Book Trust. Thereafter, he urged her to: ‘finish the novel.’ She did, and won Strathkelvin Writes Best New Writers Trophy.
Twice Born was followed by Bombay Baby, published by Dahlia Publishing. – another book reflecting Scottish – Indian connections. Bombay Baby was reviewed in Scotland on Sunday by prize winning author, Suhayl Saadi, who recommended the book as: ‘an engaging, upbeat piece of popular fiction.’
Irini Tzortzoglou is UK’s MasterChef Champion 2019.
Born on the island of Crete, Irini grew up in Athens where she and her brothers were educated. In 1980 Irini moved to London where she enjoyed a banking career in the City for over 30 years. Irini combined her work with professional (Banking Diploma) and academic (History of Art, Architecture & Design degree) studies as well as hobbies such as interior design and theatre, being both a legal director and leading lady of a London based Greek theatre company.
In 2010, Irini and her husband John left the financial world and moved to the sleepy but foodie village of Cartmel in the Lake District. In January 2020, Irini trained as an Olive Oil Sommelier and in July 2020, her debut book Under The Olive Tree (recipes from my Greek kitchen) was published to high acclaim.
Irini and her husband John have made over 40 visits to whisky distilleries, attended a weekly whisky school and love spending time on Islay and Speyside during their whisky festivals. Her dream is to visit the whisky distilleries of Japan.
Her favourite whisky is matured in sherry, sauternes or madeira casks.
Becky Paskin is a UK-based spirits journalist, whisky specialist and consultant who has been writing about drinks for over 12 years. Most recently she was editor of leading online magazine Scotchwhisky.com and global trade title The Spirits Business.
She became the first journalist to gain a General Certificate in Distillation with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling – a qualification usually reserved for distillery operators, is also a judge for the IWSC and member of exclusive society Keepers of the Quaich. She was also named 2020 Icons of Whisky Communicator of the Year and listed in About Time Magazine’s Top 10 Women to Watch in Drinks 2020.
Becky is an advocate for breaking down cultural misconceptions about whisky, and in 2018 co-founded the OurWhisky movement to promote whisky as a diverse and widely accessible drink.
She regularly presents educational seminars at global drinks festivals including Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and The Whisky Show in London.
Leaving her homeland Canada in 1990, she travelled to Japan – it was there that she was introduced to the world of drinks when she landed a job learning to make Sake.
Following this, Meeghan gained a wide range of experience within the wine and spirits trade in the UK by working in retail, import/export, and buying. At this time, she was also invited to join the highly esteemed IWSC & IWC judging panels.
In 2011 she obtained her degree in viticulture in and oenology at Plumpton College, which lead her to travel again – this time to the Mosel region of Germany, as well as France and New Zealand – to put her studies into practice as a winemaker.
After mastering the grape, she trained in the grain – becoming first a brewer, then a distiller and consultant within the beer and spirits industries. Meeghan received merit in the General Certificate in Distilling with the IBD concentrating on the production of Whisky and is currently the Head of Distilling and Operations at Glenrinnes Distillery in Speyside.
Steph is a founding member of Shawfern Group Limited, a family organisation which operates a growing collection of boutique hotels such as The Dowans Hotel and Hotel 1881 in Speyside. As General Manager, she has overseen the significant growth and development of the business which, despite the impact of Covid-19 on the world of hospitality, continues to demonstrate resilient strength in a sincerely weakened market; evidence of its standing in a national and international context. Her knowledge of and passion for whisky were solidified by her attendance at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky School in 2014 and she continues to make it of pivotal importance to the business via regular events, whisky paired meals and continued marketing of The Still, the Dowans’ whisky snug, as a destination of choice. Prior to making hospitality her chosen career, she pursued a Postgraduate degree in Human Rights and International Politics from Glasgow University. Despite the move away from that field, she continues to champion the elements of her degree that were of the most pressing importance to her: equality, diversity and the pursuit of a world where the importance placed on the masculine heteronormative ‘ideal’ ceases to exist.
Born in Pitlochry Perthshire in the Highlands of Scotland in 1953, Ian Millar joined independent family distillers William Grant & Sons Ltd in 1998 as Distilleries Manager for the company’s flagship Glenfiddich and Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky distilleries.
Ian started working in the whisky business in 1971 where he worked at Blair Athol Distillery, having worked in various parts of production he was promoted into the Production Manager role in 1982.
He was also previously Distillery Manager at the Bladnoch, Mortlach, Blair Athol, Dalwhinnie, Linkwood and Glen Elgin Distilleries before joining William Grant & Sons to manage their Malt Distilleries.
Ian was an active member of Dufftown 2000 who were responsible for setting up the Dufftown Whisky Festivals now happily absorbed into the very successful Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
In 2006 Ian moved into the role of Global Ambassador for Glenfiddich where the ambassador team increased progressively to 20, he retired from this role in 2016.
Ian was invited to become a Keeper of the Quaich in 2008, an organisation created to promote the long term global success of Scotch Whisky.
In 2019 Ian was invited to join the Keepers of the Quaich Society as a Master of the Quaich.
In 2014 Ian was invited to sit in the panel of the HKIWSC as their International and head judge for the Spirits section.
In 2015 Ian was awarded the title of International Whisky Ambassador of the year from the International Whisky Competition.
In 2016 Ian was inducted into the Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame.
Ian is married to Anneke and has two grown up children and seven grandchildren, he currently lives in Pitlochry, deep in the heart of Scotland.
Thanks to the growing success of Glenfiddich and Balvenie, Ian is spending an increasing amount of time dealing with our HNW guests at Glenfiddich Distillery in his new role as Prestige Whiskies Specialist.
When not nosing and tasting Glenfiddich, or working on his numerous community projects, Ian likes to spend his precious free time playing golf at his favourite courses around Scotland and walking his dogs in the beautiful Highland countryside that surrounds his home.
Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges are multidisciplinary public artists based in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Robbie Coleman has a background in sculpture and live art. He project manages large-scale public arts projects and is Co-Director of the D-LUX light festival and The Environmental Arts Festival Scotland. Jo Hodges is an artist, curator and producer with a background in Human Ecology, community development and social justice. learn more
Natural Sciences trained, Mike Bonaventura holds an honorary professorship in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Glasgow, a doctorate [PhD] in Artificial Intelligence, is an external examiner at the Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University, is a (lapsed) chartered engineer [IEE C.Eng.] and co-inventor of three software patents in decision-making systems. learn more
Joyce McMillan is theatre critic, and political social commentator for The Scotsman. She has been involved in many campaigns for democracy and human rights, both in Scotland and internationally, and has been a freelance journalist, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, for more than 30 years.
Nicola Osborne is Programme Manager for Creative Informatics, funded by the AHRC with support from the SFC and the City Region Deal Data Driven Innovation Initiative. Creative Informatics is part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme managed by the Arts & Humanities Research Council as part of the Industrial Strategy.