Kathryn McDowell CBE DL joined the London Symphony Orchestra as Managing Director in 2005. She was brought up in Northern Ireland and read Music at Edinburgh University. After a postgraduate course in teacher training, she spent a year in Vienna as a volunteer working with political refugees in a UN camp.
In the mid-1980s Kathryn McDowell became one of the first education and community managers with orchestras, creating an extensive program with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and leading the Association of British Orchestra’s first national education project. She also worked with Welsh National Opera and the Ulster Orchestra, before becoming Music Director of the Arts Council of England in the 1990s. Since then, she led the bid for the creation of the Wales Millennium Centre and directed the City of London Festival.
Kathryn McDowell is a Trustee of the Leeds International Piano Competition and a member of the St Paul’s Cathedral Council. She was Chair of the Association of British Orchestras (2014–17); Chair of the ABO’s Sustainable Touring Review (2007–10); Chair of the Family Friendly Arts Campaign (2011–15); a Trustee of the Royal Philharmonic Society (1999–2006); and a Governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (2007–16). She holds honorary awards from Trinity College, the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 2009, awarded a CBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in 2017 was made a Freeman (by Special Nomination) of the City of London.