‘The first music that Mac introduced me to was Puccini’s La bohème and he would play it over and over again. It was a bit like going to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and it sounds like babble. But as you learn the language, suddenly it all starts to make sense.’

‘It was when Mac took me to my first live opera, La traviata in Chicago, that I really started to get into opera. Then he introduced me to Beethoven and Mozart and some of his favourite pieces of music. I found them to be incredible.’

For the next 30 years, Suresh and Mac shared a mutual love of music. When Mac passed away from cancer in March of 2012, Suresh was determined that his legacy live on through music.

‘It was early one morning, around 2am, when I started to think of what I could do for Mac and how best to honour him. I automatically thought of music scholarships.’

Suresh then conducted a Google search of conservatoires in the UK and, although several names came up, the one that stood out to him most was the Academy.

‘I really liked the fact that the Academy takes on students from across the world and that they weren’t focused on one particular discipline; it was every form of classical music.’

Suresh had initially set out to establish a scholarship in Mac’s name as a bequest to the Academy. However, as an established Partner of St James’s Place, he realised that he could use his expertise in wealth management to make a difference to the lives of students.

'What matters most to me is that Mac’s name is associated with classical music, even long after I’m gone.’

Suresh McMillan

‘I wanted to honour Mac while I was still alive, so I started a company called McMillan Wealth Consultants in 2015. Over the past five years I have really worked hard, and I have placed the profits from that company into a scholarship fund, with the idea that it could be disbursed once it started to build up capital.’

Once he had the infrastructure in place, he reached out to the Academy to see whether they would be interested in establishing a series of new scholarships.

‘I made a call to the Academy to explain what I was trying to achieve, and I was greeted warmly. I think it was that generosity of spirit that really made me feel I had made the right choice in deciding upon the Academy.’

The Suresh and Richard McMillan Scholarships for Music and Opera are designed to honour Mac’s love of opera, the violin, the piano and his favourite instrument of all, the clarinet.

‘Mac’s favourite piece of music was the second movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto; he absolutely loved it and it was the last piece of music he heard before he passed away.’

Ultimately, Suresh hopes that his association with the Academy will see Mac remembered as a proud supporter and patron of classical music.

‘I’m here to provide financial support to students through the Academy, but what matters most to me is that Mac’s name is associated with classical music, even long after I’m gone.’

To learn more about how to make a gift in memory, please contact Bronwyn Mauchline, Leadership and Legacy Gifts Officer, at bmauchline@ram.ac.uk.