Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) has appointed six new trustees to its board of directors, describing the appointees as “exceptional”.
The new trustees reflect what the college has called its ongoing commitment to excellence, inclusion, collaboration and making a difference to society.
Announcing the new appointments, chairman of the board John Derrick commented: “The six new trustees reflect the exceptional breadth and depth of skills and experience that a 21st century conservatoire board needs. They bring deep knowledge and expertise from music to screen and recorded film, media and opera.
“Ensuring that our conservatoire graduates are ready to continue their careers as a community of artists and professionals requires a board that can support and challenge our first-class executive team. Combined with our existing trustees, these new members will ensure that we add further expertise in the legal and digital fields.
“I look forward to welcoming them to the board and enriching our dialogue, supporting our ambitious aim to ensure that RWCMD nurtures talent, engages with its audiences, and represents Wales as a distinctive, creative force in the world.”
British-Nigerian soprano April Koyejo-Audiger is among the six. A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, she went on to take a Masters degree in vocal performance at the Royal College of Music. An opera singer and maker, she is a former Link Artist (2019-20) and Jette Parker Anniversary Company Artist 2021-22 for the Royal Opera House.
In 2022 Koyejo-Audiger won the Black British Theatre Award for Best Opera Production or Performance for her role as Barena in the Royal Opera’s Olivier Award-winning production of Jenůfa (1904), Janáček’s grim story of infanticide and redemption.
Also appointed to the board is Chinese-born New Zealander Tianyi Lu, a graduate of RWCMD’s orchestral conducting programme. She is conductor-in-residence with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway, WNO’s female-conductor-in-residence and principal conductor of the St Woolos Sinfonia in the UK.
She recently won first prize in the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors Competition and is an artist ambassador for Opera for Peace. Her work is driven by an ethos of empowerment, creating connection and compassion across diverse communities through music.
The remaining four appointees are less connected to the world of opera, but no less distinguished. Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement recipient Nitin Sawhney CBE is currently chair of the PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading music charity. He has scored more than 70 films and TV series and released over 20 successful and critically acclaimed albums. He has also written for and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra multiple times.
David Ruebain is pro-vice-chancellor for culture, equality and inclusion at the University of Sussex and a consultant to Black Thrive Global, which seeks to address the impact of systemic racism on Black communities. He has been named as one of the 25 Most Influential Disabled People in the UK by Disability Now magazine.
A passionate jazz player, Nigel Annett CBE was one of the founding directors of Glas Cymru, the not-for-profit company that took over the ownership of Welsh Water in 2001. He has recently retired from the board of the Principality Building Society; he is a board member of the Canal and River Trust and a trustee of the Community Foundation in Wales.
Ian Lewis is the founder of media consultancy Serenroc, a film and TV distribution and production company. He spent 21 years at Sky, starting as director of promotion strategy in 1999, before becoming director of broadcasting, then director of Sky Movies, SBO and acquisitions, and finally group director for Sky Cinema. He is deputy chair of the board of the National Film and Television School.
RWCMD vice president Rhodri Talfan Davies said: “These exciting appointments tell you everything about the college’s commitment to delivering a world class conservatoire experience – drawing on the creative talent of board members boasting a remarkable range of artistic and business accomplishments. These appointments also underline RWCMD’s determination to open up music and drama education to people from all backgrounds.”
Led by chairman John Derrick, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama board also includes Manon Antoniazzi, Dr Ben Calvert, Mario Ferelli, Natasha Hale, Aled Miles and Roger Munnings. The new members will join the college for their first board meeting in February.
Helena Gaunt, principal of RWCMD, added: “As we continue to deepen and extend the college’s impact both in Wales and internationally, the overall mix of skills and expertise on our board will play an essential part in achieving our ambitions. Our focus is on training and nurturing the next generation of artists, preparing them to join the creative industries as forward-thinking, artistic contributors to society.”
Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has appointed six new members to its board (clockwise from top left): musician and composer Nitin Sawhney, soprano April Koyejo-Audiger, founding director of Glas Cymru Nigel Annett, founder of Serenroc Ian Lewis, conductor Tianyi Lu, and pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Sussex David Ruebain.