Committee Members

Alan Ridgewell

Alan Ridgewell, Chairman

Alan has a first class honours degree in Opera Studies and is currently preparing to begin a PhD in operatic performance semantics and aesthetics, and directorial practice. Having worked in support and development for the last 15 years for a global software company, he has also worked as a director, actor and singer. He has a bad back after having to carry Kim Begley across a stage, when he mistimed picking him up. Alan joined the Committee in August 2017 and has edited Wagner News since the start of 2018. He succeeded Richard Miles as Chairman in 2019 and attended his first International Wagner Congress in Venice in November 2019.

Stuart Poyner

Stuart Poyner, Treasurer

Stuart is a Natural Scientist by education, but due to very poor lab technique he became an accountant. He recently retired after 38 years travelling the world auditing other people’s accounts. Now as treasurer, he has gone to the other side. Stuart’s first Wagner opera was in the early 2000’s when he stood for hours for a standing ticket at the back of The Met for Rheingold – something he would not do now (both because his knees couldn’t take it and – don’t shoot me – it’s Rheingold…). Stuart is also treasurer of the Camden Music Trust which supports music activities for young people in Camden. He played the clarinet at school but sadly did not keep it going. His introduction to music came via a school lesson on Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra when he was 12 (still a favourite piece).

Joanne Cousins

Jo Cousins, Secretary 

Jo grew up in Oxfordshire and was introduced to Wagner’s music through her mother as a child. Jo attended The Purcell School, studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Junior Department, and played viola in the National Youth Orchestra, before reading Music at Oxford. After that, she became a corporate finance solicitor, but missed music too much so has now returned to the music industry. Jo regularly goes to Bayreuth, organises numerous trips to the opera with friends, and loves introducing people to the world of opera and classical, and, of course, Wagner.

Anthony Spooner

Anthony Spooner, Committee Member

Anthony is the retired chairman of a management consulting company and lives in Chipstead. He previously held the role of Secretary of the Society but is currently offering his services simply as an experienced committee member. He has four wonderful daughters and he and his long-suffering wife have travelled across the world to enjoy multiple Wagner productions ever since they met. Covid-permitting, he has attended Bayreuth every year since 2006. As well as his addiction to the Wagner canon he is an indifferent golfer, a driver of Bristol cars, lover of string quartets and a regular litter-picker around his village in Surrey.

Meli Hatzihrysidis

Meli Hatzihrysidis, Social Media & Marketing

Meli’s first degree was in performing arts and social anthropology and he later completed an MA in Arts Policy and Management at City University. He was a civil servant at the DCMS where he advised ministers on a range of cultural issues. He moved to Arts Council England, where he wrote the Council’s first national arts and health strategy and was part of the team that developed the Creative People and Places Scheme. Meli is currently a trustee of the music and mental health charity, Song in the City.

Isabella Pitman

Isabella Pitman, Bursary Secretary

Born in Norfolk, Isabella read Music at St. Peter’s College, Oxford. Upon graduating she started as an Assistant at the classical music management agency Askonas Holt. After nearly four years, she moved to IMG Artists to take up a position as Artist Manager. She is founder of the National Student Opera Society and a keen volunteer for the Trussell Trust and Dons Local Action Group.

Ram Murali

Ram Murali, Membership Secretary

Ram’s interest in Wagner and in German culture started when he did his first degree in German Literature at Dartmouth College in the US. He subsequently received graduate degrees from the LSE and Cambridge before working for many years across all aspects of film and television development, production and distribution, eventually segueing into writing. His first novel will be published in June 2024. A dual citizen of France and the US, Ram lives in west London.

Aurelian Dinu

Aurelian Dinu, Events Secretary

Aurelian moved to London more than five years ago, where he initially worked for the Romanian Embassy and now works for private events companies. He has created and managed over 500 cultural, diplomatic and protocol events in Romania, the United States, and the UK. He started his career as a journalist and was Editor-in-Chief for various publications and TV programmes in Romania. He has a BA in Journalism and Communications from Spiru Haret University. He also studied Art, Law and Business at Christie’s Education in London and has an MA in Luxury Goods Management from the Catholic University of Sacred Heart (Milan, Italy). Aurelian has a distinguished history of directing multiple high-profile events. Before he moved to the UK, he worked in New York for the Romanian Cultural Institute as an Event Manager and Press Officer. He promoted Romanian culture by curating exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, and lectures to key audiences in the USA. One important event he organised was a special screening of the documentary “Wild Carpathia: Seasons of Change” at the UN headquarters to 80 UN Ambassadors, including a filmed message from King Charles III (then HRH The Prince of Wales). Other memorable events include the exhibition of Constantin Brancusi at the Guggenheim Museum, concerts celebrating the National Day of Romania at Carnegie Hall, and the World Ballet Stars at Lincoln Centre. Aurelian’s passion for opera in general, and Wagner in particular, started many years ago whilst he lived in Bucharest and blossomed after living in New York.