Breath of Fresh Air From Oz

When he was a little boy, Jonathan Mills, who is masterminding his first Edinburgh International Festival this year, knew that he was musical, but he had no aspirations to direct the world’s most famous Festival of music, theatre and dance. Even now he says “I am not a professional Festival Director,” but this only serves to underline his innate modesty. When he was appointed to the post in 2006 to follow the towering reputation of Sir Brian McMaster there were those who thought that his lack of ‘track record’ would be a drawback. They are going to be proved wrong.

Jonathan Mills opening the Edinburgh International Festival
Jonathan is the only son of remarkable parents. His father Frank, who is now 97 and who he readily says is his “hero” is a doctor and a survivor of the Japanese prison camps in World War II, where he saw the brutality that took place and witnessed almost unbelievable atrocities of starvation, beatings and executions of fellow-prisoners. From this he emerged weighing 4 stone but as a man who believed in the essential good of human nature and with a determination to devote the rest of his long life to the service of others. He was a pioneer heart surgeon working in the United States and later in Australia. Frank Mills is still the moral compass in Jonathan’s life. His mother, Elayne whose family originated in Glasgow is also musical and Jonathan has inherited her ‘ear’ for music.

Jonathan’s own musical compositions include an opera “The Eternity Man” which was staged in London in 2003. He is typically modest about this achievement and says, almost casually, “I think this is going to be revived for filming”.

Deciding not to follow his father into medicine, Jonathan studied music at University and became involved in Festival direction in what he describes as a “happy accident”. His first Festival involved, as he put it, “heading for the hills” to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for a long weekend. Innocent of basic facts, such as the fact that the amphitheatre overlooked a vast valley which meant that all the sound would be sucked off the stage was, as he later said, “a mere technical detail”. The inaugural Blue Mountains Festival in 1988, which had its origins in the first disastrous experiment, put on 76 separate events over eight venues and lasted for ten days. This was all done by Jonathan and four close friends. Somehow he pulled it off. And so he became, as he puts it “a festival junkie”.

Of course, his festival director credentials are of a much more solid nature than this implies. Until recently he was Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Director of the Alfred Deakin Lectures and an Artistic Advisor to the new Melbourne Recital Centre which is due to open in 2009. His previous posts have included that of Artistic Director of the Melbourne Federation Festival, the Melbourne Millennium Eve celebrations and the Brisbane Biennial International Music Festival. He is regularly commissioned as a composer and his work Sandakan Threnody for solo tenor, choir and orchestra won the Prix Italia in 2005.

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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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