Mahogany Opera has revealed that it has appointed three new trustees to its board. This follows the departure of long-standing trustee David Bernstein.
As a trustee, former civil servant and lawyer Bernstein helped guide the company since 2009. He stepped down in December 2022. While he claimed no great knowledge or expertise in music, he is a keen opera and theatre goer.
“David has brought a wealth of experience and support to our board,” Mahogany Opera said in a statement, “and although he has now stepped down from the role of trustee we look forward to continuing our relationship and shared passion for new opera into the future.”
In the wake of Bernstein’s departure, the company has now announced three new trustees. The board of trustees has overall responsibility for the governance of Mahogany; appointees come from a wide range of professional backgrounds. The new members are Mary Miller, Florence Okoye and Helen Thomas.
Mary Miller has a long history of international arts leadership, primarily in opera. Her work in the community, artist and idea development has been a life-long passion, and as a former concert violinist she has experience of seeing both sides of the platform.
Miller is music editor for Scotland’s national newspaper, as well as a prominent broadcaster and festival programmer. She directed the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, one of the USA’s most prestigious and comprehensive arts festivals, and Stavanger2008, Norway’s biggest ever cultural programme. In 2010, she became general and artistic director of Bergen National Opera.
Florence Okoye is a user experience designer, researcher and digital strategist. She also works as a freelance curator and producer of interdisciplinary, inclusive events that explore community, history and design; she is passionate about reframing classical artforms for new audiences.
Her practice is focused on applying community-centred methodologies to design accessible, resilient services that empower and inspire. Okoye has also worked in various capacities as a curator, collaborating with organisations such as Birmingham Open Media and Firstsite, as well as a producer for interdisciplinary collectives like AfroFutures_UK.
Helen Thomas brings a successful, 30-year career in the commissioning, promotion and performance of new musical work in professional, educational and community contexts. Her particular expertise lies in the areas of communications, arts management and financial management.
She is a promoter, performer, lecturer and writer specialising in new music. She has worked as repertoire promotion manager at Oxford University Press, ensemble manager of the Manchester-based new music ensemble Psappha, and administrator of The Cornerstone Festival in Liverpool. Thomas has a PhD in music, is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and has worked as a music lecturer. She is now enjoying a late career as a freelance oboist and conductor.
The three new trustees join chair Penny Jonas, along with current trustees Katie Bradford, Amy Challen, Ian Hamilton, Dwight Pile-Gray and Ava Podgorski. You can find out more about all trustees from Mahogany Opera.
Mahogany Opera has appointed three new trustees to its board (from left): Mary Miller, Florence Okoye and Helen Thomas.