About

Foyer means fire or hearth.

Le Foyer des Artistes is an ensemble of musicians, from across the world, united to share 

extraordinary music with everyone.  

We collaborate with celebrated names and emerging young artists.

We are passionate about collaboration and our programme has enabled a local team, from across the creative and technical sectors, to be part of our story and develop their professional skills. 

Our concerts have enabled us to connect with people of all ages through music, a vision made possible by the generous support of our friends and sponsors. 

About Ley Foyer desArtistes

Darren Hargan

Founder | Artistic Director

Darren Hargan is the Founder and Artistic Director of Le Foyer des Artistes. A conductor and one of the most sought-after vocal  accompanists for singers in Europe. 

image3

Selina Horshi

Vice-Chairperson

A graduate of Cambridge University, Selina’s career started at The Times Newspaper where she worked in international sales including 6 months in Dubai setting up the UAE edition commercial operation, as well as a stint in the US to advise on the set up of the New York edition.

398107269 368513125512092 1722450656341708970 n

Mukesh Chugh

Director

Mukesh Chugh is a renowned Consultant and a successful community volunteer. He has worked in partnership with many organisations to celebrate cultural diversity and inclusion, and to promote equal rights and develop a shared society in which ethnic communities play a full and equal part with a genuine sense of belonging.

image6

Brenda Morgan

Co Vice-Chairperson

Brenda Morgan MBE has over 30 years’ experience of business development and commercial relationships in the aviation industry. As Head of Business Development at the City of Derry Airport she is responsible for partnerships, sales and marketing, and working closely with trade, corporate and industry stakeholders.

image5

John Harkin

Chairman

John Harkin is the Founder and CEO of Alchemy Technology Services. After decades of working globally as leader and change maker, John returned to his hometown of Derry in 2018 and launched Alchemy, a global centre of excellence for insurance software implementation.

image4

Steven Scullion

Director of Finance

Steven is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has over 20 years’ experience in accounting and financial services, gained across both the public and private sectors.

438089578 457732736590130 4496525173868434080 n

Catherine Tunnell, Jennifer Hayes

Production Team

Jennifer graduated from the Master in Arts Management and Creative Producing programme at University College, Cork.

Catherine Marie Tunnell recently achieved a distinction in the Arts Administration Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) at the University of Zürich in Switzerland,

Davide Fersini Headshot photo

Davide Fersini

Associate Producer

Davide Fersini was born in Milan. After graduating in psychology with distinction from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in his hometown, he began his musical studies at the Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado.

ZhenXu opt e1625574594792

Zhen Xu

Concerto Award Advisor

Zhen Xu is from Shanghai. In 2012, he received a full scholarship to study violin with Massimo Quarta and Rainer Schmidt in Switzerland. He graduated with a Master Diploma in performance and pedagogy from the 

Kimberly de Braconier

Kimberly de Braconier

Brand Designer

Kimberly de Braconier is a graphic designer and illustrator. She trained at the University of the Arts London Central St Martins and has worked all over the world in a variety of industries. 

Florence von Schirmeister Le Foyer Staff

Florence von Schirmeister

Web Designer

Florence von Schirmeister is a freelance Project and Event Manager who helps organizations and startups of all sizes deliver complex projects and events against tight deadlines and budgets.

Keep up to date with news and events 

 

Coming Soon

For a reminder please enter your email address here:

 

Coming Soon

For a reminder please enter your email address here:

 

Coming Soon

For a reminder please enter your email address here:

 

Le Foyer Open House person on roof
Artistic Director
Darren Hargan

Darren Hargan is the Founder and Artistic Director of Le Foyer des Artistes. He is a conductor and one of the most sought-after coaches and accompanists for singers in Europe. From Derry City in Ireland, he is also a Swiss citizen.

He studied on the prestigious joint course at the Royal Northern College of Music with the University of Manchester, spending his final year at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He was subsequently awarded a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

He began his career at the Opernhaus Zürich in Switzerland under Alexander Pereira where he was engaged for 7 years as pianist and assistant conductor, working with the most famous singers and conductors in the world. During this time he was also principal coach of the Internationales Opernstudio, working with international casts of young singers.

Darren has conducted the Philharmonia Opernhaus Zürich, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Voralberg Sinfonieorchester in Bregenz, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Vienna, Arnold Schoenberg Choir, and the Karlsbader Sinfonieorchester in the Czech Republic. He has also worked as assistant to Markus Poschner at the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera in Lugano, Switzerland.

He conducted a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Switzerland and England for the Britten Centenary and he has also conducted The Rape of Lucretia, The Turn of the Screw and Noye’s Fludde. Darren has also worked regularly with period instruments, conducting productions of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Handel’s Rinaldo as well as Gluck’s Armide and Orfeo with French classical instruments.

He has worked as a guest at Le Grand Théâtre de Genève, Wexford Opera Festival, Festival di Morcote, Selzach Summer Opera Festival, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Locarno Film Festival, Theater Luzern, American Music Institute in Graz, Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn, Theater 11 Zürich, Opera Northern Ireland, Blackwater Opera Valley Festival and in Vienna at Theater an der Wien.

His critical performing edition of Maudlin of Paplewick by Ina Boyle will be published later this year, the first  in a series of world première publications, performances  and recording of works by Irish composers with Le Foyer des Artistes. 

Darren studied piano with Irwin Gage and conducting with renowned contemporary music specialist Arturo Tamayo and Marc Kissoczy, Professor of conducting at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste.

Chairman
Selina Horshi

Having graduated from Cambridge University, Selina’s career started at The Times Newspaper where she worked in international sales including 6 months in Dubai setting up the UAE edition commercial operation, as well as a stint in the US to advise on the set up of the New York edition. She then worked at The Economist, setting up ‘The Ideas People’ digital advertising network across Europe – the first network to be based on mindset rather than traditional demographic targeting. With her digital marketing expertise, Selina developed revenues across incoming technologies such as the iPad, digital retargeting and apps. Responsible for significant revenues within both publications, Selina’s business skills led her to launch a fashion business (The Season Hats) with her husband, designer Paul Stafford.

The Season Hats went on to show at London and Paris Fashion weeks, winning awards through Headonism and Newgen. Stocked internationally, this premium headwear business is now run from Selina’s hometown of Derry while receiving press coverage internationally from Vogue India to Le Figaro. Meanwhile, Selina has taken on the family business and is currently the Managing Director of the 4-star White Horse Hotel where she in undertaking a refurbishment of the hotel, already resulting in a new bar and restaurant, and the addition of Spa facilities.

 

As President of Junior Chamber International (JCI Derry) 2020, Selina won awards for Most Outstanding Local President, Extempore Champion and was a member of the Winning Debate Team. In 2021 she was awarded Most Outstanding Immediate Past President in addition to awards for projects undertaken during the pandemic, including a drive to create and distribute free PPE locally.

In 2021/22, Selina was Chair of The LegenDerry Food Network – 70 local food and drink businesses who are aligned in their support of local produce and the development of Derry as a foodie destination. She sits on the Hospitality and Tourism Skills committee as part of her commitment to developing Tourism in Northern Ireland.

Currently the Vice President of The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Selina will assume the role of President in 2023. Her duties include advocating for local business, press engagements, and promoting the Derry City Region as an amazing place to live and to do business.

Director
Mukesh Chugh
A renowned Consultant Anaesthetist, Mukesh was at the forefront of the COVID pandemic. 
Elected as Honorary Secretary of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, he also launched the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin in Northern Ireland, and was elected as its Chairperson. 
He was also invited to become Chairman of the Ethnic Diverse Staff Network at the Western Trust – a forum to support staff, from diverse ethnic backgrounds, to deliver high quality patient care and services.
Mukesh is also a successful community volunteer and has worked in partnership with many organisations to celebrate cultural diversity and inclusion, and to promote equal rights and develop a shared society in which ethnic communities play a full and equal part with a genuine sense of belonging. 
He has been recognised with the following awards;
• Mayor’s Volunteer Recognition Award
• Derry Journal People of the Year Award for contribution to arts and culture.
• Supervalu Superstar Award finalist for going the extra mile in community work
• Derry Journal’s Key Worker of the Year 2021 for his work during the COVID pandemic
• Highly Commended Good Relations Volunteer of the Year Award 2023 from Community Relations Council NI
• Educational Excellence Award 2023 from the Medical and Dental Training Agency Northern Ireland (NIMDTA) in the field of Equality Diversity and Inclusion 
Mukesh is passionate about preserving and promoting multi-ethnic cultural heritage and helping people from ethnic minorities. He founded a community group – Indian Hindu Association – which has successfully organized festivals and community gatherings. He has conducted workshops in schools and colleges about Indian art, culture and heritage to promote interfaith harmony.
Director
Brenda Morgan

Brenda Morgan MBE has over 30 years’ experience of business development and commercial relationships in the aviation industry.  As Head of Business Development at the City of Derry Airport she is responsible for partnerships, sales and marketing, and working closely with trade, corporate and industry stakeholders.  Brenda has extensive experience in the domestic and international markets working for over 20 years as a senior manager in BMI, British Midland International. More recently, she has worked with British Airways and in collaboration with their partners American Airlines and Iberia.

Brenda has been responsible for working with key stakeholders within the Travel and Tourism Industry across the public and private sector. For eight years she was elected to the Council of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and in 2016 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for her Services to Economic Development in Northern Ireland.  

Brenda is a founding member of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance. Since 2018, she has represented the Tourism Industry as its Chairman, providing a single and unified voice in support of the sustainable growth of the industry.

Director
John Harkin

John Harkin is the Founder and CEO of Alchemy Technology Services. After decades of working globally as leader and change maker, John returned to his hometown of Derry in 2018 and launched Alchemy, a global centre of excellence for insurance software implementation.

Alchemy is about more than the bottom line; John has used his experience to create something new and better in a region in much need of investment. By choosing to found Alchemy in Derry, John is bringing well paid careers to the city and outlying areas, playing his part in the socio-economic recovery of the North West region and beyond.

Treasurer​
Steven Scullion

Steven is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has over 20 years’ experience in accounting and financial services, gained across both the public and private sectors. 

Starting out as a Corporate & Property Relationship Manager at Ulster Bank, Steven decided to take on his CIMA qualification, supported by the Bank and latterly Invest Northern Ireland (NI). He achieved excellent results throughout, culminating in placing 1st in Ireland in his final Strategic Case Study exam. 

Steven had a short spell at Invest NI managing the Business Health Check and Non-Executive Director Programmes, before taking on Senior Accountant roles in IQEQ and Allen & Overy. 

He is now a member of the Corporate Finance Team at Invest NI, with his team focused on identifying gaps in the provision of finance to businesses across Northern Ireland and assisting in the launch of debt/equity funds tailored to the market. He is very passionate about the positive socio-economic impact Invest NI has on the regional economy across all of its programmes of support available. 

Steven has extensive experience in accounts preparation and financial control, making him an invaluable asset to the Board of Le Foyer des Artistes. 

Production Team
Catherine Tunnell, Jennifer Hayes

Jennifer Hayes recently graduated from the Master in Arts Management and Creative Producing programme at University College, Cork. She also holds a BA Hons Degree in Music and German, and a Foundation Certificate in Art Therapy. She worked as an intern at Cailíno Music Publishers in 2020 and co-produced The Wonderism Festival at Cork Opera House in 2023.

A trained lyric soprano, Jennifer performed and led a singing ensemble at a children’s summer camp in the USA in 2017. She is passionate about fostering creativity in the arts and nurturing talented emerging artists, and aims to produce opera and theatre both nationally and internationally. 

Catherine Marie Tunnell recently achieved a distinction in the Arts Administration Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) at the University of Zürich in Switzerland, holding a management internship at the Württembergisches Kammerorchester, Heilbronn. 

A professional cellist, she was accepted to the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School, aged 9 before studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf. In 1993, she won first prize in the Vienna International Competition and was subsequently appointment as principal cellist of the Württembergisches
Kammerorchester, Heilbronn and as the second principal cellist with the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne in 1998, where she served for 25 years until 2024.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Davide Fersini Headshot photo
Associate Producer
Davide Fersini

Davide Fersini was born in Milan. After graduating in psychology with distinction from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in his hometown, he began his musical studies at the Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado. Later, he graduated in opera from the Arrigo Pedrollo Conservatory in Vicenza.

In 2007, Davide joined the ensemble of the Opernhaus Zürich in Switzerland, going on to forge an international career as a baritone, which took him to some of the most important festivals and theatres in the world such as the Salzburger Festspiele, Arena di Verona, Teatro Real in Madrid, La Scala in Milan, Seoul Arts Centre in Korea and the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro.

In 2017, he completed a Master in Cultural Management at the University College, SUPSI, in Lugano. He was subsequently offered a contract as presenter of music programmes and debates at RETE DUE, the cultural station of the Swiss national TV and radio broadcaster, Radio della Svizzera Italiana.

Not only has he interviewed some of the most important artists in the classical music industry such as Marta Argerich, Diego Fasolis and David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet, but he has recently developed a successful video series about opera for the radio and TV network social media channel. 

The Concerto Award, international consultant
Zhen Xu

Zhen Xu is from Shanghai. In 2012, he received a full scholarship to study violin with Massimo Quarta and Rainer Schmidt in Switzerland. He graduated with a Master Diploma in performance and pedagogy from the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano and a Master Diploma in chamber music from the Musik- Akademie in Basel.

An experienced concertmaster, Zhen has led the symphony and chamber orchestras of the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana on tours throughout Switzerland. He is also concertmaster of the Lugano Chamber Orchestra, working regularly at the new LAC Concert Hall with famous conductors such as Zhang Xian and Alexander Lonquich.

Zhen is a founder member of the string quartet, Intimo Voci, and they are regular guests at the Sobrio Festival and LongLake Festival in Switzerland. They have also toured extensively throughout Europe and recorded frequently for the Swiss Radio and Television.

In 2016, Zhen was invited to join Saiko Sasaki and Danilo Rossi of the Jerusalem Quartet for a special concert of Tchaikovsky and Schoenberg. In 2017, he was invited to play with Massimo Quarta, Yuval Gotlibovivh, Mario Ancillotti, Matteo Fossi, Chen Sanqing and Ma Yong as part of the Chinese Ciao Festival. In 2018, he appeared as special guest at the opening of the inaugural violin masterclass at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music in China.

He is a founder member of the Diamond Piano Trio and is a regular duo partner of pianist, Vovka Ashkenazy.

Zhen travels extensively throughout the world as International Relations Coordinator for Asia at the Conservatorio della Svizzera in Switzerland.

Kimberly de Braconier

Kimberly de Braconier is a graphic designer and illustrator. She trained at the University of the Arts London Central St Martins and has worked all over the world in a variety of industries. Firstly in London as an illustrator in publishing and later in New York City as a graphic designer and marketer in the fashion industry. Kimberly now works as a brand manager for clients and manages two companies which she co-founded: Sqills and Body&Mind Academy in Zurich.

Kimberly has been involved with Le Foyer des Artistes since its very early stage and passionately supports the brand image, helping to promote the world-wide artistic projects of Le Foyer des Artistes.

Florence von Schirmeister Le Foyer Staff
Florence von Schirmeister

Florence von Schirmeister is a Freelance Project and Event Manager who helps organizations and startups of all sizes deliver complex projects and events against tight deadlines and budgets.
Before starting her freelance career, Florence spent 3 years years in the high-end luxury event management space with Marcadé, a renowned French events agency. Before that, she had accumulated over 10 years of experience in marketing, sales and merchandising roles at L’Oréal’s premium fragrance division. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the European Business School (EBS).
Florence currently lives in London with her family, but has also lived in France, Spain, Brazil, and Switzerland, and speaks fluent English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. When she isn’t working on projects and events, she enjoys spending time baking.

Jury Chair
Michael McHale

Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. 

He has performed as a soloist with the Minnesota, Hallé, Moscow Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players and all five of the major Irish orchestras, and performed at the Tanglewood and Tokyo Spring Festivals, Wigmore Hall, London, Berlin Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, New York, Symphony Hall, Boston and Pesti Vigadó in Budapest. 

Michael’s début solo album The Irish Piano was released in 2012 by RTÉ lyric fm and selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by the critic Norman Lebrecht. More recent solo releases include Schubert: Four Impromptus on Ergodos, Miniatures and Modulations on Grand Piano, and a first orchestral album Irish Piano Concertos featuring works by John Field and Philip Hammond with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Courtney Lewis. His discography of over twenty albums includes releases on Delos, Nimbus Alliance, Champs Hill, and seven duo recital albums on Chandos with Michael Collins. The début album of the McGill/McHale Trio Portraits on Cedille featuring special narrations by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali was released in 2017 and immediately entered the Top 25 US Billboard Classical Chart. Upcoming releases include a recording of Strauss’s ‘Burleske’ with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Chandos, and a recording of two new works by Cliff Eidelman with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Winner of the Terence Judd/Hallé Award in 2009, Michael was also awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award, and in 2016 a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, and his teachers and mentors include John O’Conor, Réamonn Keary, Christopher Elton, Ronan O’Hora and Barry Douglas. In 2017 Michael was invited to become a Patron of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, and in 2018 he was appointed as a part-time professor of piano for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Cork School of Music in Ireland.

Michael collaborates regularly with Sir James Galway, Michael Collins, Patricia Rozario, Dame Felicity Lott and Camerata Pacifica. www.michaelmchale.com

“…McHale played with cool authority and understated panache as one expected from a young pianist whose international career is in serious take-off mode…” Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post

“…performed with zest and sensitivity by pianist Michael McHale with the RTÉ National Symphony under Courtney Lewis… McHale makes a potent case for all of it” Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“…McHale was a wonderfully incisive soloist… this was exactly the sort of headlong, exciting adventure that Prokofiev intended it to be…” Michael Dervan, Irish Times