Meet our donors

We are grateful to the 920 donors who made gifts in 2017-18, including 503 donors who made their very first gifts to the Academy. The impact these people have had – and will have – on the life of our students is extraordinary. These are a few of their stories.

Jeffrey Fine

When Jeffrey thinks about the Blitz, he thinks not of bombs or fire but of a piano.

In the last few months of the Second World War, Jeffrey’s parents evacuated him to a quiet town in the north. Two young women in the house played the piano, and Jeffrey remembers waking up to the sounds of fingers on keys. This kindled a lifelong love of music. ‘It was a great comfort for me, a very great comfort,’ he says.

Since then, music has been an important part of his life. Jeffrey has been a generous donor to the Academy for more than 20 years.

‘One of the things I think keeps me young is mixing with younger people. The Academy just has a vibrancy – I feel it every time I come here. The enthusiasm and energy is infectious. There’s such talent here. The music never fails to transport me.’

The Reverend John Wates OBE

To John, the opening of the Susie Sainsbury Theatre was a ‘dream come true’. For a lifelong musician and president of the London Chamber Orchestra, as well as trustee for the Philharmonia Orchestra, that is really saying something. John believes that the Academy sets the highest standards for music education in the world, and this has led him to support the Academy through the John Wates Charitable Trust since 1999.

‘It is an environment that has nourished some of the most exciting musicians and singers I know. And the area that I know most about – brass – has outstanding teachers.’

George Nissen CBE, Hon FRAM

George describes himself as ‘pro music’, which is an understatement. A singer himself, he has supported the Academy for many years, first as a governor, then as an audience member and generous donor. This year, he was one of the first people to support the new Principal’s Fund, which aims to offer support to every qualified student who needs it.

‘Having such a distinguished set of musicians on staff allows the Academy to pass on very high standards to the students, which is a special strength. But the coverage is also very good, from Junior Academy right the way through to postgraduate study. That, plus the succession of wonderful concerts – the Academy’s got the lot, I think.’

If you would like to hear more about how you can support the Academy, please visit or contact Kurstin Finch Gnehm, Deputy Director of Philanthropy, on +44(0)20 7873 7425 or