Benny Higgins (Chair)
Benny Higgins believes passionately in the transformative power of the arts and music. Benny has held a number of senior executive roles in the banking sector, including with Standard Life, RBS, HBOS, and becoming Chief Executive of Tesco Bank in 2008. Under his leadership, Tesco Bank grew to serve more than 6 million customers with over 4,000 staff in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. Benny was also Group Strategy Director for Tesco plc. He retired from Tesco in February 2018. In June 2018, Benny was appointed by the Scottish Government as strategic adviser for the establishment of the Scottish National Investment Bank. He is also Chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland, Chairman of Kyckr Ltd, a non-executive director of Glasgow Life, trustee of Burrell Renaissance, non-executive director of the Buccleuch Group and and non-executive director of Arabian Centres. He is a visiting professor at Strathclyde University and the Edinburgh Business School based in Heriot-Watt University. Benny is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Maggie Cunningham (Deputy Chair)
Maggie Cunningham is an experienced senior executive and leadership coach. Most of her working life was at the BBC where she was Head of Radio, Scotland as well as being part of the most senior job-share in Scotland, Joint Head of Programmes and Services. A founder member of Sistema Scotland’s Board, she is the Scottish representative on Ofcom’s Content Board and was Chair of MG Alba for six years from 2012. Maggie is also a Trustee of Columba 1400, a charity and social enterprise based on the Isle of Skye.
Nicola Benedetti CBE
Nicola Benedetti CBE began violin lessons at the age of five. In 1997, she entered the Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied with Natasha Boyarskaya. After leaving the Yehudi Menuhin School she continued her studies with Maciej Rakowski in London. She is currently taking lessons from Pavel Vernikov in Vienna.
In recent seasons Nicola has performed with almost all of the UK and Ireland’s major symphony orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra and the RTE Orchestra. She has received invitations to work with a list of international orchestras including the Deutsche Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, NDR Orchester in Llubjiana, Het Brabants Orkest, the Orchestre de Picardie, KBS Symphony and the Japan Philharmonic. Nicola’s busy schedule has also seen her perform in North America with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and with the Vancouver, Colorado, Phoenix, Toronto and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestras.
In addition to her performance and recording activities, Nicola has devoted herself to humanitarian and educational causes. She is already involved with Big Noise as our “Musical Big Sister”. Since 2005, she has visited schools throughout the United Kingdom in conjunction with the CLIC Sargent Practice-a-thon, in which she encourages pupils of all ages to pick up their instruments and enjoy classical music. Nicola is also a UNICEF Celebrity Supporter.
Angiolina Foster CBE
Angiolina Foster CBE joined the Sistema Scotland Board in June 2018. Angiolina was appointed as NHS 24's Chief Executive in December 2016, having been interim Chief Executive since March of that year. She began her career in local government, where she gained extensive operational management experience in Scotland’s two largest local authorities – Glasgow and Edinburgh. In her work with these unitary authorities, she gained a strong reputation for driving up service quality and maximising value for citizens. Over this period, she developed a keen personal interest in customer-led performance improvement. From 2001 to 2014, Angiolina held a number of senior positions within the Scottish Government, leaving there to become Chief Executive of Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Angiolina is proud to work in public service and takes inspiration from the many dedicated people with whom she works. She was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2011.
Kathryn Jourdan is a viola player, teacher and researcher. She freelances mainly with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, having played in the 1990s with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, taking an active role in the orchestra's education and community outreach work. On leaving CBSO she trained and then worked part-time as a secondary school music teacher, whilst continuing to play for three years in a London-based string quartet.
She now teaches academic music, viola and chamber music at St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh. In 2015 she completed a PhD from Cambridge University on the Philosophy of Music Education, using the work of French Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas to explore a fresh ethical underpinning for music education. Kathryn continues to publish academic research and is an editorial board member of the British Journal of Music Education..
She was educated at Clare College, Cambridge and the Royal Northern College of Music.
Paul Jourdan studied music at Clare College, Cambridge, and then violin with Roger Raphael at RNCM in Manchester, teaching as Roger’s assistant at Chetham's School of Music, where he also coached chamber music and conducted the school’s string ensemble. Having worked with Manchester Camerata, Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Philharmonic, he went on to join the first violin section of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1990-94, where he was also involved in the orchestra’s community and educational outreach work in the inner city area. From 1995-98 he completed a PhD at Clare College, Cambridge on Mendelssohn’s Visits to England 1829-37, looking at the early development of the modern music profession whilst also performing regularly with the Jourdan String Quartet including a South Bank debut concert and a residency series at Highmore Hall.
Since 1998 Paul has worked in Edinburgh's financial sector, and since January 2010 he has been CEO of Amati Global Investors, an investment management firm focused on investing in small and medium sized companies in the UK. Paul has been a board member of the Dunedin Consort and of the Hebrides Ensemble, and has also served as a Governor of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Donald Lamont’s experience as former Ambassador to Venezuela has been invaluable. He has also worked as the Chief of Staff to the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1997-99. He was Governor of the Falkland Islands and Commissioner for South Georgia and Sandwich Islands from 1999-02, and was Ambassador to Uruguay from 1991-94. He has also served in Berlin, Moscow, and Vienna.
During his postings at the FCO in London, Mr Lamont’s jobs have included: Head of the Republic of Ireland Department from 1994-97; Assistant Head of United Nations Department from 1985-88; Head of Section, later Deputy Head of Department, of the Falkland Islands Department, from 1982-85; and Desk Officer, in the Marine & Transport Department from 1974-77. Before joining the FCO, he worked in the motor industry.
Sally Magnusson is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster who has presented a wide range of programmes for the BBC from current affairs and politics to news and religion. She has anchored Reporting Scotland for BBC Scotland for many years. She is the founder and chair of Playlist for Life, a charity which encourages access to personalised music on iPods for people with dementia to help them reconnect with their memories and their loved ones. Her memoir, Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything was published in January 2014.
Hornist Fergus McWilliam was born in Scotland and has been a member of the Berlin Philharmonic since 1985. In addition to the orchestra’s Principal Conductors Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle, Fergus has performed with Leonard Bernstein, Carlos Kleiber, Günter Wand, Carlo Maria Giulini, Raphael Kubelik, Bernard Haitink, Eugen Jochum, Klaus Tennstedt, Sergiu Celibidache, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Pierre Boulez, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, James Levine and Daniel Barenboim. Other historical figures with whom he performed, collaborated, or by whom he was personally influenced include Aaron Copland, György Ligeti, Leopold Stokowski, Mstislav Rostropovich and Glenn Gould.
He was active in orchestra politics for over 23 years, chairing and serving on committees responsible for the Berlin Philharmonic’s famous self-administration, and as a member of its Board of Trustees.
Fergus is an active teacher with students from around the world; he gives master classes at leading music schools in many different countries, and is the author of a popular book on horn pedagogy. He has also enjoyed a decade-long involvement with the Venezuelan El Sistema’s wind and brass programme.
Irene Tweedie left BBC Scotland in 2006 after 12 years as Head of Finance, Property and Business Affairs.
Educated at Stirling University, she is a mathematics graduate who taught in secondary schools before moving to industry and training as a Chartered Management Accountant.
She gained broad experience working in London in the contracting and oil exploration industries then returned to Scotland to work in silicon glen before spending 6 years with Price Waterhouse as a management consultant.
As part of BBC Scotland’s Board, Irene has a proven track record in strategic planning and building and leading teams. Irene lives in Bothwell and is on the boards of three charities which support people with learning disablities: ProjectAbility, Indepen-dance and Glasgow Disabled Scouts. She is also a board member of the Citizens Theatre.