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.



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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.



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.



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 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.



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).