Leeds Conservatoire appoints new Chair and Vice-Chair to the Board of Directors

By Dav Williams


Jenny comes to the role of Chair with extensive teaching and senior academic leadership experience, most recently as Head of the Centre for Open Learning within the University of Edinburgh. The Centre focuses on local and international pathways into education and sees upwards of 12,000 enrolments each year. Jenny has been instrumental in the development of the University’s Short Courses provision, its part-time Access Programme for Adults, and the University’s Widening Participation Strategy; all of which encourage people into education whatever their circumstances or experience.

Jenny's academic background is in music and she will be a familiar face to many, having started her teaching career at 18 whilst she was a student at Leeds Conservatoire, leaving in 2015 to take up her post in Edinburgh. Commended for her outstanding leadership in the University and receiving nominations for Teaching Awards, Jenny cites her previous experience both in the Conservatoire and in the Leeds music scene as being integral to this success, carrying much of what she learnt there into her current role.

During what was an almost 20-year period of involvement with the Conservatoire, Jenny’s influence included the early development of the Leeds Junior Conservatoire programme which continues to offer innovative provision for young musicians and was the first in the UK to include Music Production as a dedicated subject area. Committed to inclusion and a firm believer in the transformative power of education, Jenny has taught and developed community education and outreach projects across the UK, including a research project into educational transitions which informed her postgraduate studies in education.

Jenny continues to perform and record as a percussionist whenever she can and has enjoyed gigs everywhere from a squat in Sheffield to the Oslo Opera House. In recent years, Jenny has recorded vibraphone on Corinne Bailey-Rae’s last album, drums on a film soundtrack for Netflix, and a mixture of instruments including a plastic bag and bowed cymbals on an album as part of female-led creative collective Beccy Owen and The Refuge. Jenny is a founding member of La Banda Europa – an ensemble which brings together 36 musicians from 15 European countries, who perform on traditional instruments which belong to their home country.

Commenting on her appointment, Jenny indicated:

‘The Conservatoire and its people are very close to my heart and so I hope I can repay my gratitude to everyone there by undertaking this role with care and dedication.’

Meanwhile, Aaron Casserly Stewart will become Vice-Chair of the Board. Aaron is a jazz vocalist and former singer with the three-time Grammy Award winning group the ‘Sounds of Blackness’. He is the former personal assistant to Morris Hayes (Prince’s keyboardist & band leader of the New Power Generation). Winner of a 2012 NAACP Image Award, Aaron is a Professor of Music Business at the London Performing Academy of Music and is the Executive Producer at Supa Qween Records. Aaron is also the Chair of the Black Lives Matter Leeds and Guest Lecturer at the University of Bolton. He is a PRS Foundation Advisor; Music:Leeds Advisor; Founder/Lead of Paradise Hill Productions and former City Commissioner/Mayor of Parsons, Kansas.

In relation to the announcement, Aaron outlined:

‘I’m honoured and humbled to have been elected Vice-Chair by my colleagues at Leeds Conservatoire and look forward to my continued advocacy against institutionalised & systematic racism within the music industry.’

Jenny and Aaron will work alongside current Vice-Chair Cherry Fricker, who works as the Director of Finance and Operations for the National Centre for Early Music, based in York.

See a full list of Leeds Conservatoire’s Board of Directors here.

By Dav Williams

Meet graduate @hannahlambmusic, an accomplished singer-songwriter with extensive experience of delivering music and… https://t.co/0B1deKivX0
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