Wasfi Kani OBE

Wasfi Kani OBE founded Grange Park Opera in 1998. It is considered one of the leading opera companies in the UK. She previously created Pimlico Opera in 1987 that continues to work in prisons and primary schools.

Born in 1956, in Cable Street, East London to Muslim Indian parents who had fled India at Partition, Wasfi was educated at Burlington Grammar for Girls in London and St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she read Music. After a decade of working with computers in the City, programming and designing financial systems for mainframes, Wasfi trained as a conductor.

Her company, Pimlico Opera began to collaborate with prisoners in 1991, staging musicals, such as Chicago, West Side Story, Les Miserables, and Guys and Dolls, alongside professional musicians. More than 50,000 members of the public have visited prisons to see the shows. The 1992 production of Guys and Dolls was the subject of a BBC documentary nominated for a BAFTA award.

Wasfi co-founded Grange Park Opera in 1998. The festival now runs for seven weeks, has staged 40 operas, and a state-of-the-art theatre was added in 2002, paid for by private donations. It was the recipient of RIBA Award 2004, RIBA Conservation Commendation 2004, Georgian Group Award 2004, and shortlisted for the Crown Estate Conservation Award 2004. World-class artists such as Bryn Terfel, the Royal Ballet, Ray Davies of the Kinks, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BalletBoyz, and the orchestra of Welsh National Opera, have performed in it.

Wasfi was a founding Trustee of the Mayor's Fund for London and is a trustee of the Royal Court Theatre. She was awarded an OBE in the 2001 New Year Honours for her work in prisons.

Her interests are playing the violin, growing roses, collecting rainwater and sewing.

Wasfi Kani