LEAD!’s founding members are Jukka-Pekka Saraste from Finland, Frances Maunder from Switzerland and Sarah Osa from Norway. Together with our mentors, we draw on our many years of work in the international music business and are passionate about sharing our knowledge and experience with our collaborators.
Sarah Osa — Co-Founder and Director
Sarah was born in Oslo, and trained as a classical ballet dancer at the Norwegian National Ballet School in Oslo and Académie de Danse Classique in Monte Carlo. After working for 5 years as a professional ballet dancer in London, she studied at Cambridge University, where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese and Chinese Studies, with a focus on literature and history. She won a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States, and, with the aim of transitioning back into the arts field, she completed a Masters degree in Arts and Cultural Management at Pratt Institute, New York.
While in New York, she worked in fundraising for City Lights Youth Theater and for the Opera Company of Brooklyn, where she was later General Manager. She is a board member of Abanar, an organisation dedicated to dance on film, which she helped to incorporate as a non-profit organisation.
After returning to London, Sarah worked as an artist manager for Intermusica Artists’ Management, with responsibility for soloists and conductors. This led to a move to Oslo, where she was Head of Artistic Planning of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, working on shaping the organisation’s strategy for programme planning, touring, recordings and artist engagement. During her time in Oslo she also served on the board for the Queen Sonja International Music Competition.
She co-founded Lead! in 2018 and the Fiskars Summer Festival in 2020, and currently lives in Helsinki.
Apart from her lifelong passion for the arts, in particular music and dance, she has had a long-standing interest in mentorship and in helping young artists make the transition to their professional fields. She has worked independently as a personal development coach, where her clients have included both students and established artists.
Jukka-Pekka Saraste — Co-Founder and Artistic Director
Jukka-Pekka Saraste was born in Heinola, Finland. He was Co-Principal Second Violinist with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra while training to be a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. He was also a leader in various chamber music groups in Finland during this time.
Saraste is Principal Conductor Designate of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, starting in 2023/24. He was Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony orchestra from 2010-2019, and Music Director of the Oslo Philharmonic, where he was appointed Conductor Laureate. His previous positions include the Principal Conductorships of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he is Conductor Laureate, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and he was the Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He was the Artistic Advisor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and co-founded the Avanti! Orchestra and the Finnish Chamber Orchestra.
He has conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the leading Scandinavian orchestras, among others. In North America he has conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic as well as Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
Saraste’s extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for Toronto Symphony Orchestra of works by Bartók, Dutilleux, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev for Warner Finlandia. His recordings of Mahler´s sixth symphony with the Oslo Philharmonic and Mahler’s ninth symphony with the WDR Symphony Orchestra have been critically acclaimed, as have his recordings with the same orchestra for Hänssler, which include discs of Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande, Stravinsky’s The Firebird, and the complete symphonies of Brahms and Beethoven.
Jukka-Pekka Saraste has received the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Sibelius Medal, and the Finnish State Prize for Music.
He is a founding member of LEAD!
Paula Ikonen — Head of Production
Paula Ikonen is a cultural producer living in Raseborg, Finland, whose background and passion is music. She graduated as a music pedagogue from Lahti Polytechnic in 2005 and finished her diploma, with flute as her main instrument, in 2010.
In 2016 Paula began her studies in cultural production at Humak University of Applied Sciences. She graduated with honours in 2021. Paula is especially interested in advancing and supporting cultural solidarity, equality and a humanistic and holistic approach in arts and culture, as well as organisational development and strategic planning.
She has worked as a producer since 2016 on projects such as Raseborg Pride Festival, Lauttasaari Street Festival, Fiskars Summer Festival, and others. From 2021-2023 she worked as a producer at the social circus association Sirkus Magenta.
Paula has been a part of the Fiskars Summer Festival team from the first year of the festival in 2020, and was engaged as Lead! Foundation’s Head of Production in March 2023.
Paul Hughes — Senior Advisor for Programming and Mentorship
Paul Hughes joined the BBC in 1999 and for 23 years was Director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and Director of the BBC Singers for ten of those years. A graduate of Trinity College of Music where he studied piano, composition and conducting, Paul Hughes came to the BBC following key roles with The Academy of Ancient Music (General Manager), IMG Artists, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Chief Executive) and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra (General Manager).
Under his directorship, the BBC ensembles toured the world, recorded extensively, expanded audiences live, on air and on social media, undertook a wide range of innovative education and audience development projects and championed new music, new composers and new artists.
Cultural change has been a hallmark of the ensembles Paul Hughes has managed, opening up access to new audiences and markets, and collaborating with the widest range of artists from the worlds of classical music, rock and pop, literature, and television.
In recent years, Paul has led on the design of a new studio complex for the BBC ensembles, currently under construction on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the site of the 2012 Olympic Games, and due to open in 2025.
A former Governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for nine years, Paul has a passion for discovering and nurturing the next generation of musicians and audiences and is a guest lecturer at several of the UK’s leading conservatoires, mentoring young conductors and composers, and lecturing on programming. He is the recipient of honorary membership from Trinity College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Royal College of Music and has recently been honoured by the Finnish government with the award of Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion, for services to Finnish music and musicians.
Paul Hughes is regularly invited as a juror for international competitions and has adjudicated conducting, piano, violin and composition competitions in North America, Asia and Europe. He has recently stepped down from the role of Acting Managing Director of the charity Hasting International Piano and following a period as a guest mentor to the Lead Foundation in Finland, Paul will join the team as Senior Advisor, Programming and Mentoring.
Izabel Markova — Planning- and Production Coordinator
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Izabel began her musical studies with classical piano and singing at the age of three. At the age of eleven she was admitted to the National School of Music in Sofia to study viola with Professor Stefan Jilkov. During her studies she won first prizes in numerous prominent international viola competitions and was invited early on to perform as a soloist with professional orchestras such as Classic FM, Simfonieta Sofia, and The Bulgarian National Radio Philharmonic.
In 2015 Izabel entered the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne where she studied with Alexander Zemtsov. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, she decided to continue her studies and successfully auditioned for the Master Soloist programme at HEMU, as one of very few violists to be accepted.
As a student, she continued her development as a soloist as well as an ensemble- and orchestra player. In 2017 she was awarded the Special Prize by the Blatow Foundation from the Anton Rubinstein Viola Competition in Düsseldorf.
At the age of 19, she was already employed as a substitute violist in the esteemed Zurich Opera Orchestra. She won a permanent position in the orchestra at 21, becoming one of its youngest members. She has been invited as a guest player in prestigious halls and orchestras such as the Vienna State Opera, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Gstaad Festival Orchestra, Camerata Venia Orchestra, United Strings of Europe, Camerata Nordica and others.
Her chamber music experience includes concerts and festivals with world-renowned musicians: Mischa Maisky (Musica Mundi Festival, Belgium), Pavel Vernikov, Svetlana Makarova, Henri Demarquette, Alexander Zemtsov (HEMU concerts), Boris Garlitsky (Villa Musica Festival), to name a few.
In 2021 Izabel reached the final round of the Allegra International Strings Competition in Rousse (Bulgaria) and was the sole viola player to perform a recital and chamber music with members of the jury (Albena Danailova and Peter Somodari). In early 2022, she was invited as a guest player for the prestigious co-solo position of the Luxemburg Philharmonic Orchestra.
Her latest achievement is winning third prize in the 2022 edition of Rahn Music Competition for Strings in Zurich.
Apart from developing as a performer, Izabel is determined to broaden and enrich her musical horizons in the field of arts management and the organisation of classical music events.
She was appointed Planning- and Production Coordinator at Lead! Foundation in January 2022, and was immediately tasked with producing the very first Fiskars Easter Festival 2022.
Frances Maunder — Co-Founder
Frances Maunder grew up in Ticino in a multilingual environment. After graduating in English and Italian Literature at Berne University, she took over the management of the Musicology Library acquiring an extensive musical and musicological knowledge. During this time, she also completed a further diploma in Archive, Library and Museum Management in Chur.
Frances discovered a passion for creating and curating cultural events while working in the music library. The many, different and visually inspiring scores prompted her to organise her first event “Ceci n’est pas une Partition”, a visual/musical exploration of contemporary music scores through concerts, lectures, guest composers contributions and an exhibition. The experience led to her first job in the classical music world. As an agent for Artists Management Company, she promoted different orchestras, from Ancient Music ensembles to symphony orchestras, throughout Europe. After this, her long experience in the music field includes positions with Kammerorchester Basel (KOB) and most recently, with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (ZKO). As Deputy Director and Head of Artistic Planning of the ZKO, she had an instrumental role in shaping the artistic strategy of the orchestra and was in charge of running its artistic department.
Frances currently lives in Zurich with her daughter and works as an independent strategy consultant in the music industry as well as pursuing her interest in storytelling and digital marketing.
Interested in all aspects of art and culture as well as leadership, innovation and storytelling, she is committed to bringing together ideas and people to create and transmit knowledge and change.
She is a founding member of LEAD!