The late Queen

Patron of the Royal Northern College of Music


Sir John Tomlinson CBE

President of the Royal Northern College of Music
Sir John Tomlinson was born in Lancashire. He gained a BSc in Civil Engineering at Manchester University before winning a scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music. He was awarded a CBE in 1997 and knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2005. He was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Singer in 1991, 1998 and 2007 and in 2014 their Gold Medal.

John Tomlinson’s has performed at La Scala, Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Geneva, Lisbon, Metropolitan Opera, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin (Deutsche Oper and Deutsche Staatsoper), Dresden, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Antwerp, and Bilbao and the Festivals of Bayreuth (where he sang for eighteen consecutive seasons), Orange, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg, Edinburgh and the Maggio Musicale, Florence. He has sung regularly with English National Opera since 1974 and with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, since 1977 and has also appeared with all the other leading British opera companies.

President Emeritus

HRH, The Duchess of Kent


Professor Linda Merrick CBE

Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music, Governor and Tutor in Clarinet

Linda MerrickProfessor Linda Merrick is Principal of the RNCM and an internationally-renowned clarinet soloist, recording artist and pedagogue.

Her catalogue of over 40 solo recordings features new concertos she has commissioned by Gary Carpenter, Nigel Clarke, Martin Ellerby, John McLeod, Stephen McNeff, Edwin Roxburgh, Philip Sparke, Philip Spratley, Kit Turnbull and Guy Woolfenden for labels such as Naxos, Chandos, NMC, Guild and Metier. She has also released premiere recordings of clarinet quintets with the Navarra and Kreutzer Quartets by composers including Simon Bainbridge, Nigel Clarke, Robert Crawford, Michael Finnissy, Wilfred Josephs, John McCabe and Edwin Roxburgh, with recordings of works by Edward Cowie, David Horne, Paul Patterson and Paul Pellay due to be released in 2022. In addition, Linda has commissioned and recorded over 20 works for clarinet and electronics, and released two CDs featuring works with clarinet and harpsicord by Robert Keeley.

Linda has performed as a concerto soloist across America, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, the UAE and the UK, and broadcast for BBC Radio 3, Radio France, DRS1 Switzerland, CKWR Canada and Arte TV South Korea. A founder member of the contemporary ensemble ‘Sounds Positive’, she has premiered over 80 chamber works for winds and piano by British composers, and released a further three CDs.

In addition to her position as Principal at the RNCM,  Linda is Chair of Conservatoires UK and the UK representative for Howarth Clarinets.

The Board of Governors

Ravi Gupta


Ravi GuptaRavi is a leading Mergers & Acquisitions banker, and Industrials and Business expert for the Global Advisory division of Rothschild & Co, one of the world’s foremost independent financial advisory groups. He was appointed as Co-Head of UK for Rothschild & Co in 2018.

Since joining the company in 1997 as an analyst, he was appointed a Director in 2004, Managing Director in 2007, and Global Co- Head of Industrials in 2010, and Global Partner in 2013. During his career, he has advised UK and international clients on over 200 transactions. Ravi’s extensive experience is centred on mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity raisings, and strategy; and advising clients across a broad range of sectors.

Ravi is Chair of Rothschild & Co’s Global Community Investment Committee, which is committed to increasing social mobility for disadvantaged communities, for example, mentoring and tutoring schemes for gifted and talented young people from lower socioeconomic areas. He is also a member of the Global Balance and Inclusion Committee of Rothschild & Co. which aims to promote awareness of equality and embrace diversity within the company.

Prior to joining Rothschild, Ravi spent four years at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), where he qualified as a chartered accountant. He completed a degree in Mathematics and Management from Leeds University in 1993.

Ravi is a strong supporter of music and the arts, and is currently training as an Indian classical musician on the sitar. He is passionate about all genres of music, opera and the theatre. He is married and has two children.

James Binks


James BinksJames Binks is the Assistant Chief Executive at Manchester City Council.  James leads on policy and strategy for the city, performance, research and intelligence, reform and innovation.  This includes the Our Manchester Strategy for the city and the Council’s Corporate and Business Plans.

He directly supports and deputises for the Chief Executive.  James has developed Manchester’s work public service reform since 2011, taking an evidence-based and developing an integrated whole-person, whole-family approach to early help and support for those that need it.

James worked on the Greater Manchester devolution agreements with Government in the 2010s including the £450 million transformation fund investment in health and social care.  From 2006-2011 he was a senior adviser at HM Treasury where he led the Total Place whole-area approach to public services and advised ministers on a range of programmes within the Productivity and Reform team.

James completed a degree in Geography from Cambridge University in 2000 and is passionate about developing place-based solutions to real issues for people.  James enjoys listening to music and attending live performances and is married with two children.

Professor Sir David Eastwood


Professor Sir David Eastwood has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham since April 2009. Previously, he was Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), a post he had held from September 2006. Former posts also included Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, and Chief Executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Board.

He was Chair of Universitas 21 from 2014 – 2021 and Chair of Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) from 2015-2020; and has been Chair of the Russell Group and Chair of UCAS.  He is currently Chair and Non-Executive Director of INTO University Partnerships, and has served as an International Member of the Hong Kong University Grants Committee since 2011.

In 2014 he was awarded a Knighthood for services to education.

His is an Oxford-trained historian who published on eighteenth and nineteenth-century British history and the history of ideas. He has a passionate interest in music, collects CDs, and still plays the violin and occasionally lectures on music.

Professor Chris Haslam


Chris has a degree in Physical Geography from the University of Newcastle, a doctorate in climate modelling from the University of Southampton, a postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies from the Open University and a Professorship from the University of Chester.

Following a period working in industry with the UK British Coal Corporation where he held various appointments including Deputy Director of Environmental Management, Deputy Head of Corporate Relations, and then successively the Deputy Chairman’s and Chairman’s Personal Private Secretary, Chris worked at the University of Wolverhampton in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office as the Head of Strategic and Academic Development.

Following a period working for the Higher Education Quality Council, Chris was appointed a Deputy Director at the Quality Assurance Agency. In addition to institutional auditing duties, between 1998 and 2006 Chris had responsibility for managing the Agency’s extensive work for the UK Government relating to the grant of degree-awarding powers, university title and higher education institution designation. In this capacity, Chris drafted both the 1998 and 2004 UK Government criteria governing the grant of degree-awarding powers and university title and oversaw the provision of advice to Government Ministers. In this capacity, he was appointed as a specialist advisor to the New Zealand Government in relation to the development of the country’s higher education sector.

Between 2006 and 2020, Chris was the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Chester and had responsibility for business planning and performance management, managing the University’s seven academic faculties, student support and guidance services, careers and employability, quality and standards assurance, and UK and international student Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions. He also acted as the Executive Dean of the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences with oversight of the Departments of Sports and Exercise Sciences, Biological Sciences, Clinical Sciences and Nutrition, a Food Sciences research centre, and the School of Medicine.

Whilst at Chester, Chris was Chairman of the UK North West Universities European Unit, a member of the Governing bodies at University College Isle of Man, West Cheshire College and Vale Royal College and also acted as an external adviser on the Maltese Government’s Quality and Standards Assurance Committee. He was also a member of the RNCM’s Academic Board.

Chris is currently a higher education consultant and has undertaken work in the UK, Malta, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Leslie Kwan


Leslie KwanLeslie Kwan is an American harpsichordist, and the founder of The Monarch Network, a new media- production company that commissions and presents music-based digital content exclusively for NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom.

Highlights of Leslie’s career include Associate Marketing Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from September 2015 where amongst other responsibilities she managed niche cultural partnerships and events across all BSO brands and audience development for the Young Professionals Group.  In 2016 Leslie was recruited by the Handel + Haydn Society as Acting Marketing Director where she managed all marketing, communications and digital platforms for the organisation, launched the digital concert hall, and secured corporate sponsorships in support of the organisation’s fundraising goals. In 2018, Leslie was invited by the Chineke! Foundation in London to manage the charity’s press, marketing, communications and social media platforms.

Previously, Leslie founded L’Académie Baroque Orchestra in Boston, MA, a chamber ensemble that specialised in French Baroque repertoire. Inspired by her mother’s survival of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Leslie launched and ran a weekly chamber music series exclusively for cancer patients, families and staff, expanding this series into Massachusetts General Hospital in support of the patients, staff and families of the neonatal unit.

Born and raised in New York, Leslie began piano studies at age 4 and made her debut at Carnegie Recital Hall at age 10. She graduated from the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where she was a double major in piano and viola. Leslie holds degrees in harpsichord performance from Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, and a Master of Music from the Mannes College of Music, New York City where she was a Helena Rubenstein scholar.

Hazel Province


Hazel Province

Hazel has enjoyed a successful career as a violinist, artists’ manager, cultural strategist, leader and mentor, spending a large part of her career at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden where she led considerable change through periods of intense stakeholder scrutiny – first as Director of the Orchestra and then Director of Planning.

Passionate about music and music education she now works independently holding a portfolio of chair, non-executive and executive roles in the cultural and higher education sectors.

She chairs the Arts Development Company, a pioneering social enterprise engaging the culture sector to deliver change across South West England, and chairs the Dorset Music Education Hub. She has led business development projects for Welsh National Opera, for the National Dance company of Wales and for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; she is sought after as a sounding board for leaders, decision makers and high performing individuals and she regularly contributes to industry research projects.

Her particular expertise is in complex problem solving and relationship management and she has a distinctive ability to dismantle and communicate complex ideas and processes in ways that include rather than disenfranchise, and to develop and sustain the professional relationships that engender trust and confidence. Above all she is known for being kind, calm, optimistic and pragmatic.

Hazel is an alumna of the Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Cranfield School of Management and is a member of the Women on Boards network. She lives in Bridport, Dorset, is a year-round sea swimmer and gig rower, still plays the violin (tho’ not quite as well as she once did…) and is an active long-distance walker, having recently completed the southwest coast path.

Hugh Rayment-Pickard MBE


Hugh Rayment-PickardHugh Rayment-Pickard is Co-Director of the Professional Teaching Institute ( which support teachers at all stages of their career by delivering a range of professional development courses. Previously he was the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for the education charity IntoUniversity, which runs education centres that support young people facing disadvantage to achieve a university place or another chosen aspiration. Before that, he worked for over 20 years as a Church of England minister in parishes in London’s East End and in Notting Hill.

He is the author of several publications including Philosophies of History: from Enlightenment to Postmodernity (Blackwell, 2000) [with Robert Burns] and The Myths of Time: from St Augustine to American Beauty (DLT, 2004). He has undergraduate degrees in English Literature (The University of Kent) and Theology (Emmanuel College, Cambridge) and completed his PhD thesis (Goldsmith’s University of London) on the philosopher Jacques Derrida (published as Impossible God, Ashgate, 2003).

Hugh was made an MBE in the 2009 Birthday Honours, was given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lanfranc Award for Education in 2019 and an honorary doctorate by The University of York in 2023.  In his spare time he studies the classical accordion.

Sam Rigby


Sam Rigby is a Major Gifts fundraiser for the National Theatre. Prior to that, he was Managing Director of Schott Music, London, with responsibility for promoting the publisher’s catalogue of 20th-century and contemporary composers. From 2003 until 2013 he worked for the artist management agency Intermusica, reaching the position of Associate Director and managing a varied list of artists such as Daniil Trifonov, Francesco Piemontesi, Midori, Renaud Capuçon and the Pavel Haas Quartet, as well as programming concert series at London’s Southbank Centre and elsewhere. He studied History at University College London and holds an MBA from Lancaster University Management School.

Georgina Robb


Georgina RobGeorgina is an Audit Partner at Deloitte LLP, having joined its predecessor firm, Touche Ross, after graduating from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine with a BSc in Microbiology.  She spent 2 years working for Deloitte in Australia post qualification, became a partner in 2003 and is a fellow of the ICAEW.

In her role at Deloitte she provides financial and governance advice and support to Boards and Audit Committees across a varied client portfolio, from large public listed companies to privately owned trusts and charities.

She is passionate about the education and development of young people, having provided pastoral support to school leavers and graduates in her audit group at Deloitte through the difficult process of balancing study and exams with their work, and contributed to a career advice and personal development programme for students at a local school.

Georgina has had a lifelong interest in music, albeit in a strictly amateur way, and is a founding member of a Community Choir connected to her daughters’ school. In January 2020 she became a Trustee of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and a member of their Finance Committee. She joined the Royal Northern College of Music as an external co-opted member of the Audit Committee in September 2020, before joining the Board as a Governor in October 2021.

Wendy Smith

Wendy is Creative Director for Sage Gateshead. In her role she oversees the contemporary music and creative learning programmes. She has been with the charity since it began in 2002 and was part of the team which built its programme across genres in performance, artist development and creative learning ahead of its Foster + Partners building opening in 2004. Key achievements at Sage Gateshead include, producing the first evening Prom to take place outside London in partnership with BBC Radio 3. Establishing Sing Up, national singing programme and In Harmony Newcastle Gateshead, a community orchestral music making programme in two schools in the West End of Newcastle.

Wendy was born in Middlesbrough and has always lived in the North East. She started her career as a performing artist in the music industry, a founding member and vocalist in the band Prefab Sprout. Wendy joined the band aged 16, and in 1983 signed with Kitchenware Records followed by an 8-album deal with CBS records (now Sony). Collaborations with artists included the Pet Shop Boys, Stevie Wonder, Andre Crouch Choir, singers from Sly and the Family Stone, Pete Townsend, Jenny Agutter, and Thomas Dolby. More recently Wendy has performed and recorded with Tim Burgess, The Charlatans, Paul Smith of Maximo Park, LYR, and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

Wendy’s is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. She is Poverty Proofing lead at Sage Gateshead and Deputy Safeguarding Director. She is also a board member of Music Partnership North, Gateshead and South Tyneside Music Education Hub and Durham and Darlington Music Education Hub and a member of the North East Music Industry Advisory Group, led by Generator.

Liz Rowley

Governor (nominated by Professional Services Staff)

Liz Rowley


Liz studied English and Music at Keele University before joining The Sentinel newspaper in Staffordshire as a features writer in 2005. In 2011, she moved to Manchester to take up the role of PR and Media Relations Officer at the RNCM, becoming Communications Manager in 2014 and Deputy Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment in 2019.

In her current role, Liz is responsible for RNCM communications and brand management, including all outward facing channels, internal communications, messaging to applicants and offer holders, and promotional materials.


Colin Walklin


Colin WalkinColin graduated with an Engineering Degree from Southampton University in 1975 but rapidly turned towards the world of Finance, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen in 1978.  Throughout a career spanning more than 40 years, he has worked predominantly in the financial services industry – notably in Banking, Investment Management and Insurance – with roles covering Finance, Strategy, Operations, Technology and Regulation.

His previous roles include substantial periods as the Group Head of Finance, first at Standard Chartered Bank and subsequently at Barclays Bank.  More recently, he was Group Chief Operating Officer at Standard Life Aberdeen, the position from which he formally retired in May 2019.  Alongside his mainstream roles he has also served as a member of the Financial Reporting Review Panel of the FRC (2003-2013) and Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Audit Committee at West Bromwich Building Society (2011-2018).

Colin is a keen amateur pianist, describing his enthusiasm for the instrument as “far exceeding his limited talent” but has nevertheless spent a lifetime enjoying music and in a small way participating in its production.

Gavin Wayte


Gavin Wayte


Gavin Wayte is the RNCM part-time academic staff member on the Board of Governors. He is Fellow in Creative and Professional Practice, and lecturer in Academic Studies at the RNCM.

He also pursues an active career as a composer, pianist and conductor in a variety of genres from opera to multimedia performance, as well as working for national cultural organisations such as Arts Council England.

Current creative focuses include music and nature, and defunct musical instruments.


Simon Webb


Simon Webb

Simon Webb has been the Director of the BBC Philharmonic, based at MediaCityUK in Salford, since 2014. Previously he was Director of Orchestral Management at the CBSO 2008-2014.

He started his career as a cellist with orchestras in Portugal, Hong Kong and Ireland and was a member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1996 to 2005 and Chair of the LPO’s board 2000-2005.

Simon’s first role in management was at Sheffield’s Music in the Round as Administrative Director where he was involved in setting up Ensemble 360. He is currently a governor of Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and a board member of the Association of British Orchestras.

He studied theology at Selwyn College Cambridge then the cello at the Royal Academy of Music and was a fellow on the Clore Cultural Leadership programme 2007-8. Simon is married with three children and lives in Sheffield where he still occasionally plays the cello and conducts choirs and orchestras at his local church.

Dr Larry Goves


The Principal (ex officio)

(See Linda Merrick, above)

Professor Dawn Edwards

Clerk to the Board and Director of Academic Governance (CBDAG)

Dawn EdwardsDawn is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  A scientist by background, Dawn obtained her PhD in human physiology from University College, London. Following this she worked at a postdoctoral research fellow at McMaster University, Canada, working with young people with cerebral palsy. She joined the Royal Northern College of Music in 2010 as Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement and is now Director of Academic Quality in addition to her role as Clerk to the Board of Governors.

Dawn has a wealth of experience in quality assurance and enhancement in the higher education sector, both nationally and internationally. She worked as a reviewer for the Quality Assurance Agency for many years, until institutional review was disbanded. She has also undertaken work for the Higher Education Academy as a reviewer for the accreditation of postgraduate programmes in learning and teaching in higher education and for applications to the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, and was a panel member for the subject pilot of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.  Through the Association of European Conservatoires she was a member of an EU-funded project which developed quality assurance guidelines and criteria for higher education review in music higher education across Europe and is part of an international benchmarking group coordinated by the College which looks at governance, management and leadership in conservatoires in Europe, the US, Thailand and Australia.

Sam Austin

Students’ Union President

Originally from Northamptonshire, Sam’s younger years were shaped by time spent at the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust. Through NMPAT, his eyes were opened to the world of ensemble playing; he began to explore a breadth of orchestral and chamber music, instantly developing a passion for working alongside other musicians. Ιn 2018, Sam was awarded the trust’s Nigel Cobb Fellowship Award and was given the opportunity to perform Malcolm Arnold’s 2nd Concerto with the County Youth Orchestra. These experiences catalysed Sam’s decision to pursue music and in 2019, he moved to Manchester to study with Christopher Swann and Antonio Salguero Montesinos.

Sam graduated in 2023 with first class honours. Throughout his time at the RNCM, he has had the privilege of being involved in many performances and recordings alongside world-class musicians in professional orchestras, including engagements with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, BBC Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata, through side-by-side projects and Professional Experience Schemes. These have been some of Sam’s most valued learning experiences as well as the most inspiring to him and his ambitions within music.  Aside from orchestral playing, Sam is very passionate about chamber music and in 2021, established the Alvarium Quintet, with whom he has played extensively and performed most of the standard wind quintet repertoire. Recently, Sam has enjoyed planning and delivering workshops with his quintet in schools around the North, and is looking forward to developing this over the next year.

As President of the Students’ Union, Sam is excited by this unique opportunity to directly impact the student experience and help to champion the diverse talents of our student community – he finds it hugely interesting being involved in the inner workings of the college and is very encouraged by how seriously the RNCM consider the views of their student body.

Updated March 2024