Artistic Director: Professor Vanessa Latarche

After studying at the Royal College of Music and completing her training in the USA and Paris, Vanessa was awarded many scholarships and prizes from international competitions.

Vanessa Latarche’s concert career has taken her to Europe, the USA and Asia, as well as many festivals within the UK, including Cheltenham, Harrogate and Huddersfield. Her interest in Bach led to a performance of the complete 48 Preludes and Fugues at the Lichfield International Festival in 1992, the performances being given over four consecutive evenings. She has performed as a soloist with international orchestras and those in the UK including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, working with many leading conductors. She is a Steinway Artist.

She has broadcast for over 30 years for BBC Radio 3 and has also broadcast extensively on the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4. She has been a juror for international competitions in China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Italy, New Zealand, and Hong Kong and has adjudicated the national keyboard final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year, which was broadcast on BBC television. In 2007 she was an advisor to the BBC TV programme ‘Classical Star’.

Vanessa frequently travels to give masterclasses, to such institutions as Moscow Tchaikovsky State Conservatory, Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Beijing Central Conservatory, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, Tokyo College of Music, Seoul National University as well as to other UK conservatoires and specialist music schools She is an advisor to Lang Lang’s music school, Lang Lang Music World, in Shenzhen, China, where she formerly held the position of Vice-Chairman.

Since September 2005, Vanessa has been Head of Keyboard at the Royal College of Music, having been previously a professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music for 14 years, where she was made an Honorary Associate in 1997.

A renowned pedagogue, with many international piano competition prize-winners amongst her students, Vanessa was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Music, for outstanding services to music, an honour conferred on her by HRH Prince of Wales in May 2010. In September 2011, she was granted a Personal Chair at the RCM, which gave her the title of Chair of International Keyboard Studies. In 2017, as an extension to her keyboard faculty work, Vanessa was made the Associate Director for Partnerships in China, which involves managing the RCM’s collaborative work in China, particularly the RCM/SHCM Joint Institute in Shanghai.

Sarah Coop – Development Director

Ian Brignall – General Manager

Sarah and her family moved to St Leonard’s on Sea 6 years ago from Belsize Park in North London. Sarah is a professional fundraiser and previously spent 15 years as the Development Director of Artichoke whose huge outdoor art projects were dependent on fundraising, the average project cost was £4m.

Previously Sarah worked at Hampstead Theatre, The Roundhouse, The Philharmonia, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Sarah possesses a wide spectrum of fundraising experience across major gift, corporate, statuary, charitable trust and direct mail fundraising.

In London Sarah was a Trustee of Theatre de Complicite, Hofesh Shechter Company, Artichoke Trust and Burgh House.  In Hastings she is a Trustee of the Friends of the Conquest Hospital and the Foreshore Trust. Sarah was a a judge for Miss Gilbralta 2013 and was awarded Freedom of the City of London in 2016.

You are welcome to email Sarah for a conversation about supporting Hastings International Piano.

Born in Hastings, Ian started learning the Violin at 10 and went to Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. After college at Dartington College of Arts, he worked as a professional Violinist working with many of London’s top Orchestras. Moving into Orchestra management, he became Orchestra Director for the Orchestra of English National Opera and then moved to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as Orchestra Manager. Heading back to London he became Personnel Manager for the Philharmonia and since then as a freelance concerts and venue manager for various ensembles and venues.

Nicky Webb – Communications Director

Millie Cant – Social Media & Communications Coordinator

Nicky Webb is a creative producer, communications consultant, and project manager. She has held a variety of senior roles in arts organisations, including Head of Communications for Glyndebourne and Marketing Director for the Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.

For 12 years she ran Artichoke, a company that produces large-scale arts events and festivals.

She is now developing a parallel career to help people renovate their homes. 

Born and raised in Cambridge, Millie has two degrees in Music from Oxford University. She lives in North London and splits her time working as a freelance communications specialist and writing for academic journals and blogs about music, feminism, and LGBTQ+ rights. She is a semi-professional choral singer and spends most nights at rehearsals for one concert or another. She runs our social media and updates this website.

Angie Watson – Development Manager

Mimi Scott – Friends and Patrons Coordinator

Angie has spent much of her career to date in the travel industry, latterly running her own small specialist tour operator. Her time in the industry cultivated her organizational skills and also led her to travel the world quite extensively, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she sought a change of direction.

After a 25 year career in nursing at the Conquest Hospital, specialising in Child Development, Mimi retired 6 years ago. She sang for many years with the Hastings Philharmonic Choir and the Occassional Consort.

Mimi became involved with HIP when introduced by Richard Wray to the idea of hosting competition contestants, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and, since retirement, she has co-ordinated the Friends and Patrons Scheme which gives such valuable support to HIP. 

She spent a year working as an administrative supervisor at the Conquest Hospital before starting a new career in charity work. She is now the Deputy General Manager for The Friends of Conquest Hospital charity, and has recently been appointed the additional role of Development Manager for Hastings International Piano. Being a local girl, she is delighted to be involved with the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.


Sarah Kowitz DL – Chair

Born and educated in London, Sarah worked in journalism as a reporter and editor before raising a family In New York and then East Sussex.

She lived and worked in Asia and America for several years and since returning to the UK has been an active supporter of not-for-profit arts, education, and horticulture organisations.

She is a trustee of Hastings Contemporary, Hastings International Piano, and the Fairlight Arts Trust, a Patron Governor of Ark Schools, and a Founder Director of Bridgepoint, Rye. She is a Deputy Lieutenant of East Sussex, an Honorary Doctor of the University of East Anglia, and a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Jonathan Marten

Jonathan Marten studied organ, piano and orchestral conducting at the Royal College of Music. Prior to spending the past 30 years as a freelance Performer, Examiner and Adjudicator he was Director of Music of a school in Hastings
and of Choral Societies as well as Bexhill Parish Church where he re-established an ‘all male’ choral tradition, formed the St. Peter’s Singers, the Bexhill Festival Choir and in 1969 began a separate girls’ choirs, parallel to the boys’ choir, possibly the first in what has become a trend in UK Parish Churches and Cathedrals.

In 1987 he was chosen by Chichester Cathedral to study the Lutheran Tradition of Church Music and training of organists in Berlin. Whilst there he attended the Berliner Kirkenmusikschule and played in various venues. He has examined throughout the world for the Royal Schools of Music and has also adjudicated piano and other classes in Festivals in the UK and abroad. He has sat on the Jury in Concerto competitions in Hong Kong and Hastings, of which he was the original inspiration for, and planner of, the first Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition in 2005.

Dr Richard Wray DL

Dr Richard Wray trained as a Consultant Cardiologist and General Physician and worked for many years mainly in Hastings and at Kings College Hospital in London. Whilst working he noted how much appropriate music helped those in hospital, and so established the live music programme at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings which became one of the largest in any UK NHS hospital. A particular feature is the Young Musician in Residence programme.

Richard is also a Patron of the Young Classical Artists Trust which prepares young gifted potential international musicians for their future careers. He states that ‘I was asked to join the committee of HIPCC to channel some of my energy and enthusiasm into helping others more expert than myself into building up the competition into a major international event in the musical calendar. My longstanding appointment as one of the Deputy Lieutenants of East Sussex has been very helpful in that regard.
I work with and support the East Sussex Schools Music Service, a remarkable high quality organisation noted particularly for the expertise and dedication of its teachers who go far beyond the call of duty to enthuse young people from an early age.’

Mark Lam

Diahann Brown

Mark is an experienced board director and digital technologist with global experience in both private and public sectors. He is Chair of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest hospital groups in Europe, and a non-executive director on the board of Social Work England, the national regulator. He currently also serves as a non-executive director on a number of business boards, including Games Workshop Group PLC, a FTSE 250 business, and JT Group Limited, one of the main telecoms providers of the Channel Islands.

Diahann has spent the last nine years running The Rhythm Studio Foundation, a west London youth music charity providing music tuition and performance opportunities for  underprivileged young people. She passionately believes that music has the potential to  transform lives and that it is something that should be accessible to all. With a huge  beneficiary area of the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham and  Westminster, she has initiated partnerships with many local schools, community & youth  groups as well as major hospitals’ arts charities.  

He was previously Chief Technology and Information Officer of Openreach and held senior executive positions at BT Group, Siemens, and Carphone Warehouse. Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has had a life-long passion for classical music.

As well as managing collaborations and music projects for young people, she also  spearheads the foundation’s fundraising activities, scholarship scheme and events. Under  her leadership the charity’s reach has expanded significantly with hundreds of primary  school children participating in the Rhythm Studio Foundation’s award-winning Primary  Schools Rock & Pop Workshop Programme each year. Working closely as one of the Triborough Music Hub’s delivery partners, the charity is also involved in major musical  initiatives such as the recent year-long “Sounds like Hammersmith & Fulham”, a project  funded by the Mayor of London’s Cultural Impact Award. Partnerships with major London  hospital charities (CW Plus & Imperial Health Charity) also enable access to music for young  patients on paediatric wards or specific programmes for outpatients suffering from long-term  medical conditions. 

One of Diahann’s favourite parts of the job is following the musical and personal journeys of  recipients of The Rhythm Studio Foundation scholarship award, from audition to the end of  the programme, several years on. These annual scholarships can have such a life-changing  impact on a particular young individual and their family. 

Diahann was brought up in London and Accra, graduated from The University of Cambridge  in 1987 with a BA in Economics and also holds an MSc in Environmental Technology from  Imperial College London. In her previous career, Diahann spent several years based in  London and Hong Kong as an award-winning senior investment manager, responsible for  the assets of charities and institutions. Her background in finance is particularly useful given the requirements of fundraising, the need for financial scrutiny running a charity as well as  the development and diversification of its sources of funding. Diahann is passionate about  music and the performing arts and is an early patron of The Hastings International Piano  Concerto competition. She has a broad music taste, from opera to chamber music, attending  festivals such as the Peasmarsh Chamber Music to rock concerts and contemporary music  festivals such as Glastonbury and WOMAD.

Charles Strickland

Charles was born in the Old Town of Hastings and is now a long-time resident of St.Leonards- on-Sea.

He completed a music degree at City University, London, and began his working life at Glyndebourne Opera. At the age of 24, he was appointed their Music Librarian before going on to work for the London Philharmonic Orchestra and subsequently the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He currently is manager of Henry Wood Hall, the main rehearsal and recording venue in central London used by all of the London Orchestras. It is also a recording venue for solo and chamber ensembles used by many world-class artists, especially pianists.

He also acts as a freelance music/orchestra librarian to the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Brighton Philharmonic, and the Bath Festival Orchestra amongst others.

Alistair Keith

Jenny Yeo

Alistair Keith was educated at Lancing College and Kings London University. He was called to the Bar in 1974 and joined chamber in the Temple. He practiced as a criminal Barrister on the South Eastern circuit. He is also a director and company secretary to Alex Graham Limited which creates the Fred Basset cartoon. Classical music has been a major part of his life and he has recently started to learn to play the piano. During the competition he is part of the volunteers team. He has lived locally, near Bodiam for almost 50 years.

Born and educated in Cheshire and I studied in Manchester and London as a Speech Therapist specialising in young children, where music was an important part of their learning.

After moving to Sussex I worked for 25 years for a subsidiary of Pfizer as marketing manager in Europe. On retirement I have been involved in fundraising for local charities. I was very pleased to be asked to join the trustees of HIPCC and hope my local knowledge will help bring more public awareness of the good fortune Hastings and surrounding area has in having HIPCC in our town.