Speakers at the European Forum on Music 2024

This 2024 edition of the European Forum on Music "Equity in Music" will feature exceptional speakers and musicians. The speakers will share their ideas and generate a debate around the importance of equity in music. Stay tuned for more updates on the speakers and musicans!

Golnar Shahyar

Golnar Shahyar is an Iranian/Canadian vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, widely known as one of the most accomplished vocal artists in European contemporary and improvised music. She is also recognised as a composer, producer of her own music, and collaborator in dance, theatre projects, and opera productions. In 2008, she settled in Vienna and began studying voice and guitar at the University of Music and Performing Arts. Her debut album, “Tear Drop”, released in November 2022, was nominated for the German Jazzpreis for the best debut album of the year (international).

In 2020 she co-founded WE:Shape, a platform aiming to advocate and promote EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) and fair pay in the music industry and education focusing on German-speaking countries. Since then Golnar Shahyar has been active as curator, commentator, concept & strategy developer in various festivals and podium discussions to advocate and integrate EDI and fair pay in the music scene. There is no meaningful division between her music and the social themes it addresses, she came of age in a culture where women, for decades, have fought for a public voice. Add to that the status of an outsider in Western Europe, representing a culture often viewed with mistrust and misunderstanding, and music-making itself becomes a political act.



Angharad Cooper

Angharad Cooper is a Paris-based consultant and coach working with clients across the music sector to develop new projects, increase impact and facilitate change. She is the Director of Operations at the music policy research NGO the Center for Music Ecosystems and a proud board member of the European Music Council and the Daphne Oram Trust. She is a coach at Sound and Music, Help Musicians UK and record label Non Classical, creating a space for ambitious creative thinking and personal development for their artists.



Benoît Machuel

Benoît Machuel (France) has been General Secretary of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) since September 2002.

Before that, he worked as a professional cellist and gambist in several orchestras and musical ensembles, taking part in a number of tours and recordings. He also worked as Artistic Director for CD labels dedicated to classical and contemporary music. Between 1995 and 2002, he was a national representative of SNAM (French Musicians Union). He holds two Master’s degrees in Computer Sciences and Business Administration.

Burak Özgen

Burak Özgen is General Counsel at GESAC, which through its 32 members represents more than 1 million creators in EU/EEA in the process of European law and policy making.

Before joining GESAC, Burak was legal and policy counsel to EMI Music Publishing and also advised several industry organisations from creative sector. He took part in international projects such as "CELAS" for pan-European licensing of musical works, "Fair Music Business Model" together with IMC and "Music Rights in Southern Africa" together with Jeunesses Musicales International, with different roles and responsibilities, and also worked at the European Commission's Audio-visual and Media Policies Unit.

He holds an LLM from Ghent University in Belgium, where he continued his further research on collective management, and was a visiting fellow at Columbia Law School's Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts in New York. He is a member of ALAI Belgian group ABA/BVA and was a member of the first Working Group Youth of EMC.




Carlos Martins

Carlos Martins is a saxophonist and composer, who's also president of Associação Sons da Lusofonia, since 1996 and of Portuguese Jazz Network.

He is also the artistic director of the festivals Festa do Jazz and Lisboa Mistura, and an active member of the Europe Jazz Network.

Carlos studied in N.Y. with George Garzonne of Berklee College of Music, and was a participant in conference all around the world where he'd talked about Jazz and Global Music.

Carol Main

Carol Main MBE FRC is Director of Live Music Now Scotland and LMN International Development, as well as lead for the LMN International Co-operation Group across Europe. She is a Fellow of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a board member of Creative Scotland, chair of The Night With… and on the board of the European Federation of National Youth Orchestras. She was appointed MBE for services to music in 2015.

Cheryl Kwok

Cheryl Kwok is a composer, conductor, and cultural policy researcher. A graduate of the University of Cambridge and King’s College London, she is currently a Consultant at Sound Diplomacy, a global research and strategy consultancy, and can be found constantly exploring (and revelling in) the rapidly-changing landscape of art/music tech and digital cultural policy.

Her passion for improving access and participation in the arts is supported by her roles as Fellow of Creative Impact Research Centre Europe (CIRCE), Project Manager at Young People in the Arts, and a Trustee of Culture&, a charity dedicated to promoting diversity in the arts through development of vocational public programmes. She enjoys learning about dance (particularly ballet) and the visual arts in her spare time.



David Nicholson

David Nicholson is a fiddle player from Fife, Scotland. He comes from a musical family with a history of piping. The bagpipes are a huge influence on the music that he plays. David started playing fiddle in 2000 and has performed at Feis Rois and, since 2017, with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra.

David is autistic and champions autism and neurodiversity within the music and arts communities across Scotland and beyond. He also farms and has a keen passion for agriculture and the countryside. He also enjoys reading, politics, curling, steam trains and vintage tractors.

Davide Grosso

Five music rights activist with an academic background in ethnomusicology, he has carried out extensive field research in Indonesia about music and society and worked in journalism and media.
He joined the International Music Council in 2013 where he is in charge of project management and communication. Among other assignments, he is the Secretary of the International Rostrum of Composers and curates the edition of the Music World News.

From 2020 to 2022 he chaired the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee, representing a network of more than 400 NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO.
Outside the office Davide composes electronic music and writes about music and politics for various magazines and blogs.

Erica Romero Pender

Erica Romero Pender is a music artist and cultural manager. She is temporarily part of the coordination team of Live DMA, the European network of live music associations. After obtaining a PhD in psychology, she specialized in the development of international innovation projects. At RNR Producciones (managing the music venues Sala X and Sala La2) she works on issues such as digitization and greening of live music, capacity building for emerging artists, diversity and inclusion in the music sector, or sustainable ecosystems for music venues, among others.

Eva-Maria Bauer

Eva-Maria Bauer is a musicologist, music manager and cultural policy lobbyist. As newly-elected president of the Austrian Music Council, Austria's largest interest group in the music field, she has been representing the music branch in the nationwide "fairness process" in Austria since 2020 and developed into an expert on issues of fair pay, social security for artists and skills development for musicians on the Austrian music market.

As a manager of regional funding and education programs with regard to contemporary music she's got close ties to the music scene and is in regular contact with artists and event organizers. As a musicologist she is researching music business and policy related topics at the Center for Applied Music Research at the University for Continuing Education Krems.

Finn Schumacker

Finn Schumacker has been the Executive Director of the AEC since February 2024, overseeing day-to-day operations, projects, network activities, and lobbying for higher music education with the EU Commission, the European Parliament and related institutions.

Finn studied studied tuba at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. After a few years as a member of a military orchestra, Finn was appointed as principal tubist with the Bavarian State Orchestra at the Munich Opera. In 1995, Finn changed his career path and has since held a number of positions as General Manager and Artistic Director for symphony orchestras in Denmark and Sweden.

Prior to this appointment, Finn was Principal of the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus, and in this capacity he was elected member of the AEC Council. Finn also has extensive experience from board work in the cultural sector in general, where the most recent posts include chairman of the Association of Danish cultural boards and of the Danish Orchestra Association.



Heidemarie Meissnitzer

Heidemarie Meissnitzer, studied economics, has many years of experience and work experience in cultural administration and cultural policy, currently at the Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU in Brussels, represents Austrian interests in the areas of culture, media and regional policy at European level for the Federal Chancellery.

Helienne Lindvall

Helienne Lindvall is an award-winning professional songwriter, musician, and columnist. She's the former Chair of the Songwriter Committee and Ivor Novello Awards & Board Director of the Ivors Academy, as well as a Trustee of the Ivors Academy Trust. She’s also the writer behind the Guardian music industry columns.

Hailing from Sweden, she worked as a session singer, recording artist, and performer in Stockholm and NYC before settling in London, where she signed a publishing deal with BMG Scandinavia and later Universal Music Publishing Scandinavia. Since then, she’s been working with recording artists and award-winnin writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Helienne contributed a chapter to the Swedish book Myten om Internet (The Myth of the Internet) and has written columns for Digital Music News, Netopia, The Musician, The Australian, and STIM-Magasinet. She regularly appears on Sky News, the BBC, Irish National Radio, and Swedish National Radio, discussing songwriters’ rights, copyright, and other music industry issues.



Joži Vovk

Joži Vovk works for the European Choral Association as Regional Development and Data Collection Assistant.

She comes from Slovenia and was previously Head of the Music Office at the Europa Cantat Festival, Ljubljana, 2021, and Assistant for Vocal Music at the Public Fund for Cultural Activities of the Republic of Slovenia. She has also worked in various other cultural positions but has always sung in choirs and been active in the field of collective singing.  At the European Choral Association she plays a key role in gathering data, fostering links, and implementing Regional development strategy in Central and South-Eastern Europe to ensure a more connected and inclusive choral landscape.

Katharina Weinert

Katharina Weinert is the policy advisor of the European Music Council. Her tasks include analyzing policies and drafting policy recommendations on EU cultural policy and other fields relevant to music. She has participated in several Stakeholder Consultations on the EU levels such as Voices of Culture and Music Moves Europe and the European Agenda for Culture. Previously, she worked for the Creative Europe Desk Germany, the Cultural Policy Association and the Europe for Citizens Point in Germany. Since June 2021, she is a board member and Vice-President of Culture Action Europe.



Katharin Ahrend

Katharin Ahrend is a Berlin-based cultural manager, creative producer, trainer and consultant who has been working at the intersection of music, culture, urban development, cultural policy and social justice in Germany and beyond for more than ten years.

As one of the Managing Directors of the Berlin Clubcommission e.V, Katharin is currently leading cultural award and showcase festival TAG DER CLUBKULTUR in Berlin as well as the Awareness Akademie — a project and platform that promotes the development of anti- discriminatory structures within club & festival culture.

Beside this, Katharin was a founding member of the global campaign United We Stream, is part of the global network and movement Keychange as well as the current cohort of the European Music Business Task Force.

Lorenzo De Angelis

Class of 1974, born and bred in Rome. With a degree in Cultural Heritage Economics, he has coordinated three successive projects since 1999 for the reconversion of industrial and rural buildings and parks for cultural use in the urban context of Rome. Since 2014, he has been the coordinator of the Cultural Hub Monk Club, focusing on analysis and definition of objectives, organization and coordination of work, and group dynamics. He is also the coordinator of the Project All Areas Access (AAA).

Mariana Bondarenko

Mariana Bondarenko from Kyiv, Ukraine is head of music at Ukrainian Institute, governmental structure affiliated in Ministry of foreign affairs of Ukraine.  She is implementing international programs in jazz music sphere to promote Ukrainian culture abroad and initiating new cooperation on the level of musicians, festivals, institutions etc., providing intercultural dialogue between Ukraine and other countries of the world.

Recently she initiated the first official participance of Ukraine at jazzahead! and WOMEX, partnership with Europe Jazz Network, numerous international festivals, and music institutions.

Mariana got her education at Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University and further at the University of Vienna in the field of German philology. However, cultural management has been among her priorities since student life. Working for Goethe Institute and Austrian Cultural forum in Kyiv and implementing big bilateral projects in Ukraine have become a good experience to support Ukrainian culture abroad.



Martha Lomelí

Martha Lomelí (she/her) is a social psychologist who examines the relationship between society, culture, and well-being. Her work takes a critical approach, meaning that she investigates psychological phenomena from a perspective that accounts for the influence that systems of oppression have on people's understanding of themselves and the world around them.

She is a lecturer and researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, and her current research focuses on the implementation of art-based psychosocial interventions that promote mental health. In her latest project, her team devised a song-writing workshop that effectively decreased post-traumatic stress symptoms in young girls who survived the 2018 earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Since 2020, Martha has been a project leader for Play it Loud!, JMI's initiative to promote equity and diversity in music. 






Michalis Karakatsanis

With over 20 years of experience in the cultural and creative industries, Michalis has worked internationally as an expert focusing on bottom up development, music ecosystems, audience development and new cooperative business models. Michalis is the acting chair of the European Music Council and has served as the president of the board of the International Association of Music Information Centers. He has extensive experience in designing and managing European projects, while he frequently offers strategic advice to the Cyprus national government on music policy and music export matters.

Moreover, he was a member of the Cyprus Managing Authority team in the Competition for the 2017 European Capital of Culture title in Cyprus, has participated in a number of EU Cultural Affairs Committee meetings as the Republic of Cyprus representative, while he has served as a member of two EU OMC experts groups, focusing on the strategic use of the EU support programmes to foster the potential of culture for development, and on the status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative professionals. Meanwhile, he is still an active musician, performing regularly as a member of various Cypriot music bands.



Mimi Harmer

Mimi Harmer has carved out a career at the intersection of music, education, and digital technologies. As a musician, Mimi uses performance and composition to challenge convention. To pull the music industry into the future and bring people together, she is currently combining her drive to widen access and participation in the arts with her knowledge of interactive technologies to prepare an ambitious debut VR experience.

In the education sector Mimi has extensive experience shaping and influencing public policy with the goal of improving education for all. She has worked with senior stakeholders in the UK and the EU, including the European Association of Conservatoires, and as a teacher at Leeds Junior Conservatoire. She is a Council member for the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the AEC, Director of the F-List for Music CIC, and Co-Founder of the European Performing Arts Students' Association.



Mila Georgieva

Mila Georgieva is one of the most active professionals in Bulgaria in the field of culture management, popularisation and promotion of the Bulgarian music scene around Europe and beyond. Her professional experience includes her work with the of A to Z Foundation/ A to JazZ Festival, the film and videogame music production company Four for Music, head of “Talent Management” department in the Bulgarian branch of CEEME, a Time Warner company and many more international projects in the field of music, arts, culture and education. Mila is currently a deputy-chairwoman of the board of Bulgarian Music Association, responsible for the International activities of the organisation and since 2020 a project manager of MOST project for Bulgarian Music Association and a Conference Producer of SoAlive Music Conference (SAMC) in Sofia, Bulgaria. She also sits as a board member of the European Music Council.

Nayden Todorov

Nayden Todorov was born in 1974 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. He received his first piano lessons at the age of five and made his debut as a conductor at the age of 16. He graduated with honours from the Dobrin Petkov School of Music in Plovdiv and continued his studies in orchestral conducting in the legendary class of Professor Uroš Lajovic, choral conducting with Professor Günther Toering and opera conducting with Professor Konrad Leitner at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.

In 2000, when he was only 26 years old, he was invited to become the Music Director of the Plovdiv Opera and Philharmonic, proving to be the youngest conductor in Bulgaria in such a position. In the period between 2003 and 2005 he worked as artistic director of the Burgas Opera and Philharmonic Society. A few years later he also held this position at the „Danube Sounds“ Choir in Ruse. In the period between 2005 and 2017 he was the director of the State Opera in Ruse.

In the period February-June 2023, he is interim Minister of Culture. He is currently serving his second term as Minister of Culture.



Niels Græsholm

Niels Græsholm is a renowned conductor and music educator. He has been teaching at conservatories is Denmark and is presently associate professor in choral conducting at the University of Copenhagen and holds the position of Music School Consultant for the Danish Ministry of Culture working with initiatives on children, youth and culture.

Niels is a board member of EMC and of IFCM (International Federation for Choral Music) and he is chair person of the Danish Choral Directors Association and of Nordisk Korforum, the Nordic association of choral organisation.



Robbe Van Bogaert

Robbe Van Bogaert, founder of the creative tribe EVENTSURE, serves as a nightlife and music policy expert for youth in Antwerp, Belgium. Passionate about sharing his experiences and knowledge, he engages globally as Human Power DJ, speaker, and activist. Robbe lives with a bone structure problem, multiple epiphyseal dysplasia and in his younger years, had a life in a wheelchair. Over time, he found the power to get out of it but still uses the wheelchair as his bike on festivals and travelling the globe.

Ruth Jakobi

Ruth Jakobi studied Music, French and Education in Hamburg, Germany and Lyon, France. She has been involved with several European and international cooperation projects (for the Academy of Music and Performing Arts Hamburg, IRCAM, European Music School Union, EMC, IMC), and is currently employed as Secretary General of the European Music Council (EMC), in dual leadership with Simone Dudt. The European Music Council, regional group for Europe of the International Music Council (IMC), is the umbrella organisation for musical life in Europe. Simone and Ruth are responsible for EMC’s strategic development, for advocacy work in cultural policy, as well as for the planning and implementation of international cooperation projects.

 For the EMC, Ruth has initiated and coordinated the SHIFT project, an Erasmus+ co-funded project that fostered EMC’s contribution to sustainability together with 8 other European cultural networks.



Ruth Koleva

Ruth Koleva has received numerous accolades, including Grazia Magazine's Woman of the Year, Forbes 30 Under 30, and the Best Jazz Vocalist award at the JAJ Awards in Japan.

As the Head of Partnerships for Kanjian, China's largest independent music company, Ruth bridges the gap for international entities aiming to establish themselves in the world's most expansive micro-market. In 2019, Koleva launched Sofia Live Festival, and in 2022, she solidified her position within the Bulgarian music industry by joining the board of the Bulgarian Society for Neighboring Rights - PROPHON. The following year, she founded the SoAlive music conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, and serves as its CEO.

Ruth is a dedicated advocate for equality and inclusivity, and she actively supports the LGBTQ+ community. She also proudly serves as the president of ANMIP-BG (Association of Independent Music Publishers and Producers in Bulgaria) and as a board member of IMPALA.



Sandra Tinner

Sandra Tinner, born and resident in Switzerland, holds a doctorate in linguistics and plurilingualism. She is a passionate amateur musician, having played the mandolin since childhood. She currently performs with two local orchestras and the Swiss plucking orchestra zupf.helvetica. 2 years ago, she made the decision to turn music into her profession in a certain way: She is now the managing director of the Swiss Music Council, where she represents the political interests of the whole music sector in Switzerland.

Sanni Kahilainen

Sanni Kahilainen is Head of Communications of the Finnish Musicians' Union, live music venue G Livelab Helsinki and Radio Helsinki. She is also Executive Vice President of the International Music Council (IMC) Executive Board, and Vice Chair of Executive Committee of Freemuse.

Having a background in ethnomusicology, sociology and gender studies, Sanni is passionate about music, freedom of expression and equality of the industry.

Sanni was awarded as Future Visionary at the Finnish Music & Media Industry Awards 2021, and she was granted Finnish Musicians' Unions silver medal in 2021. She won the Rhetoric Contest, organized by Kulta ry, at Music x Media 2022.

Sanni's work, experience and focus are around the music rights, and advocating for the artists' and music performers' rights, possibilities and equality is in the core of her work in Finland and internationally.

Sanni has also been leading and managing campaigning for the release of a group of artists/political prisoners in Egypt since 2018.



Silja Fischer

Silja Fischer studied in Berlin, Moscow and Hamburg. She joined the General Secretariat of the International Music Council in 1993 and has served since 2009 as Secretary General. In this capacity, she is notably in charge of IMC’s advocacy action, membership and programme strategies as well as partnerships. Since IMC is an NGO official partner of UNESCO, Silja ensures also the liaison with the UNESCO Secretariat as well as with diplomatic representations of Member States.

Besides her great passion for music and its transformative power, Silja strongly believes in strategic collaborations for effective and efficient advocacy work. She represents IMC in various advocacy groups such as the Steering Committee of the CSO Global Coordination (2005 UNESCO Convention), the Climate Heritage Network and the #culture2030goal campaign.



Simone Dudt

Simone Dudt studied cultural sciences in Hildesheim, Germany and Marseille, France focusing on Fine Arts and Music. She has been working for the European Music Council since 2004. Today, she is Secretary General of the European Music Council in dual leadership with Ruth Jakobi. Ruth and Simone are responsible for EMC’s strategic development, for advocacy work in cultural policy, as well as for the planning and implementation of international cooperation projects.

One of the most relevant advocacy tools coordinated by the EMC in cooperation with a huge number of stakeholders across the European music sector is the European Agenda for Music. From 2010-2014 Simone served on the Board of Culture Action Europe, a European umbrella organisation that advocates for culture at the EU institutions. She is author of diverse articles on music and cultural policy as well as a speaker on these topics at European conferences.



Sonja Greiner

Sonja Greiner is the Secretary General of the European Choral Association, member of the Board of the World Youth Choir Foundation, and governance advisor to IFCM. Before working for the European association, she was the manager of the International Chamber-Choir Competition and the festival Musica Sacra International in Marktoberdorf (Germany). Sonja was the treasurer of both the European and the International Music in the past is Honorary Member of the International Music Council.

Stéphane Amiel

Stéphane Amiel is the founder and director of the Les Femmes s'en Mêlent festival (translated as “women are involved”), which was launched in Paris on 08th March 1997.

For 26 years, the event has provided an alternative to the under-representation of women artists on most music stages, offering an ambitious programme and becoming one of the first international festivals for women's musical creation.

With over 500 female musicians and composers programmed since 1997, including opening acts as Christine & The Queens, Emilie Simon, Jeanne Added, Catpower, Feist, Soko, M.I.A., Yelle, Regina Spector, Nouvelle Vague, Austra, Courtney Barnett, Irène Drésel, and its national reach (with an average of forty dates per edition throughout France), Les Femmes s'en Mêlent festival has become a benchmark both for its influence in the contemporary music sphere and for its action to promote gender equality.

He also managed the Imperial booking agency from 2004 to 2014 (Christine and the Queens, Nouvelle Vague, Huspuppies, Emily Jane White, Soap&Skin, Metric, CSS, etc.), and co-created the Telescopic label (Hector Zazou, Eleni Mandell, Anna Ternheim, Sophie Moleta, Prudence, etc.).



Tomas Van Respaille

Tomas Van Respaille has been Institutional Advisor at Bozar since 2018, contributing to strategic planning of Bozar's local, national and international political and diplomatic policies. He coordinates Europe-wide cooperation projects focused on artistic creation, capacity building and cultural policy, including international music cooperation. Since 2021, he has served as Vice-President of Daughters for Life Europe. Tomas holds Master's degrees in Law (2017) and History (2014).