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In October 2021, Toni James was appointed as the Development and Operations Manager for Music in Action. Toni will lead programming by the Jersey Chamber Orchestra and Liberation International Music Festival, as well as Music in Action's education outreach programmes and community initiatives.
Born in Paisley in the West of Scotland, Toni began her career as a solo pianist, reaching the keyboard final of BBC Young Musician of the Year and taking top prizes in the Moray, International Emmanuel Durlet and Scottish International Piano Academy competitions. Toni co-founded Neave Trio in 2012 and the ensemble signed to Sapinkopf Artist Management and showcased at Chamber Music America's Annual Conference in NYC. The trio gave their Rockport Festival debut in 2014 to enthusiastic reviews, named among the "Best of 2014" by the Boston Musical Intelligencer and commissioning a new world premiere by American composer Augusta Reed Thomas. From 2015-2020, Toni was a Professor of Music at San Diego State University School of Music and Dance, and led major music festivals and educational programmes, including San Diego Guitar Festival and San Diego Summer Music Institute. Toni has worked at the cutting-edge of live performance collaboration with dance makers and visual artists, winning "Best Production" at the 2015 San Diego International Fringe Festival. From 2020, Toni has led academic standards at the School of the Arts at University of Liverpool where in addition to delivering the classical performance and pedagogy curricula, she produced the first Women in Music Conference.
Toni is a Doctor of Musical Arts and certified teacher in college and community settings, graduating from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester New York. Toni earned the school's highest honours for both performance and teaching, the Max Landow and Baskin awards, and the Prize for Excellence in Teaching by a graduate student.
Toni co-founded Tannahill Arts and Heritage an organisation working towards equitable access to arts and culture for all, delivering Paisley's annual arts festival and providing platforms for developing and underrepresented artists. Toni is the Chair of the Board of CREATE Paisley, an organisation working to transform the lives of young people through creativity, community, confidence, and finding their voice.