Meet our Music Experts

15 June 2012

Two new faces joined the Academy to lead the way in music.

Music has been an integral part of all cultures throughout history. At the Aga Khan Academies, we believe that through music a child can develop language skills, raise self-esteem and boost confidence. And, most importantly, music can stimulate connections in the child’s brain.

All sorts of things matter at a successful school, and the Academies firmly believe in balancing the educational curriculum with sporting and artistic activities in a child-friendly environment.

The Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa has already shown creativity and success in the area of music, as it was proudly crowned top school at last year’s National Choral Championship.

The present year has also sounded a positive note for the Academy’s music programme. Two new faces joined the staff —Tony and Ursula Ryan, with Tony as the Head of Expressive Arts and Ursula as Manager of Communications, Events and Extension Programmes.

Tony and Ursula have brought with them a wide range of experience in their respective fields, with Tony having a national reputation as an outstanding conductor and composer in New Zealand.

Tony also carries with him the experience of serving as Head of Music at Linwood College in Christchurch, New Zealand for 30 years. Last year he conducted their eighty-strong orchestra on a tour of Europe. He has also been a guest conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and is an accompanist, lecturer, and broadcaster who for many years reviewed music performances for Radio New Zealand.

Many of his written pieces have been used for school groups. He has also written professional orchestral and theatre works, and his opera The Musicians of Bremen received considerable acclaim.

Meanwhile, Ursula Ryan has also brought with her an exciting and varied background. She is qualified in librarianship and has worked in communications, website management, publications, and records management. On the musical front, Ursula enjoyed a successful singing career in New Zealand and has performed vocal music written for her by Tony.

Keeping their experience in mind, the Head of Academy, Rob Burrough shared that the Academy plans to develop orchestral and instrumental music to be equally strong with the choral programme, and that is where Tony Ryan steps in.

Tony is hoping to establish a range of music groups at the Academy, beginning with an orchestra that has already started rehearsals. At present, the Academy has launched an ‘Invest in Music’ initiative aimed at providing a range of instruments for students to hire and purchase.

Rob Burrough also shared that one of their strategic goals is to develop expressive arts and music at the Academy into a Centre of Excellence. Tony and Ursula aim to make that a reality by growing the music programme at the school and also supporting music in the wider community. They are enjoying working within the friendly and supportive environment at the Academy.