Meet the Artists: NYOS LAB


We are very excited for our new creative project, NYOS LAB, which explores a variety of approaches to improvisation, developing creativity skills and musicianship. NYOS LAB is a fantastic opportunity to develop your understanding of your instrument, as well as meet other young people from a variety of musical backgrounds and be creative!

Ahead of our first sessions in Edinburgh, we're excited to announce of team of creative artists that will be helping our first LAB cohort to learn, develop and creative something together.

Improvisation is often associated with Jazz but NYOS LAB takes a much wider approach and will explore what we can learn from many genres. It is also open to a much wider range of instruments including classical, jazz and scottish traditional instruments.

That is why, to deliver NYOS LAB, we have assembled a team of world-class musicians from across genres, styles and practices, bringing together a wealth of experience that will make the programme an outstanding opportunity. 

NYOS LAB is for young musicians aged between 14 and 18 years, who have a full understanding of their instrument, and are keen to create some exciting new music.

Our LAB Artists

Emma Smith - Lead Artist

Emma Smith is a Scottish double bass player and has forged a career as a versatile composer, improviser and collaborator.  She combines her classical training from the Royal College of Music with the subtle nuances of jazz harmony and synthetic textures of electronic music, to create a sonic environment for experiments in abstract and realist film.

These multimedia explorations focus on human interaction and on how current global events shape us individually and collectively. A lead trainer for Musicians Without Borders, Emma has spent time in Palestine and El Salvador, and has trained musicians across Europe and the USA in providing safe creative spaces for vulnerable and displaced people. This work provided the impetus, imagery and humanitarian insight behind her solo show The Relentless Approach of Better Times.

Continuing her exploration of human interaction, Emma collaborated with percussionist Phil Hague to create Blame: A Musical Journey into a Modern Addiction, commissioned by Northern Lights Project, Northern Ireland. She is part of the trio Paracosm, which draws from a palette of jazz, contemporary classical and electronic music to create long-form, immersive performances with abstract and realist film.

Emma is passionate about the importance of creativity, both as a form of expression and as a fundamental part of physical and emotional wellbeing. She has extensive experience in helping people of all ages and abilities reconnect to their creative self.

Annabel Kershaw

Annabel Kershaw

Originally from Aberdeenshire, Annabel studied composition and piano at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Drawn to the freedom of spontaneous composition and improvisation, Annabel later studied jazz harmony at St Andrews University. Her music combines a tonal language that melds influences of both contemporary classical and jazz idioms. Her work has been performed at the Wigmore Hall, London’s South Bank, Aldeburgh Festival, Sound Festival Aberdeen and by the BBC SSO.   

She was part of the critically acclaimed Take On Mingus, a celebration of the bass player’s 100th birthday at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival in 2022 and is currently part of the experimental multimedia trio Paracosm. As a passionate educator, Annabel worked as a teaching musician for Sistema Scotland within the Big Noise Raploch orchestral programme and strongly advocates for the transformational impact of music on creating positive social change. She has worked on numerous creative music workshop projects both nationally (Roundhouse Studios / Dance Umbrella London, The London Festival/Architecture Foundation, Youth Music Initiative, Deveron Festival) and internationally in Italy and Spain (British Council). 

Helena Kay

Helena Kay

Helena Kay is a multi-award-winning tenor saxophonist and composer from Scotland. Their latest album Golden Sands (Sulis Records, October 2022) features all original compositions by Kay, alongside fellow Scottish musicians Calum Gourlay on double bass and Peter Johnstone on piano, plus drummer David Ingamells.

Kay draws influence from different places which are important to them: Scotland, London, and New York, each of which have been their home during their career. While in New York, they had lessons with some of the greats of the contemporary jazz scene – Dayna Stephens, Melissa Aldana, Chris Cheek and Rodney Green.

Kay released their debut album Moon Palace (Ubuntu, 2018) in 2017 after winning the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award the same year. The album features David Ingamells on drums and Ferg Ireland on double bass.

Originally from Perth, Scotland, they moved to London in 2012 to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, graduating in 2016 with a First Class in BMus Jazz (Hons). During their time studying, they were awarded the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year Award (2015). In 2021, they were selected to become a City Music Foundation Artist. They are currently supported by Help Musicians. Kay was recently awarded Best Instrumentalist at the Scottish Jazz Awards 2022.

Kay also plays with various groups such as Calum Gourlay Quartet & Big Band, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Seonaid Aitken Ensemble, Issie Barratt’s Interchange Dectet, EuroRadio Jazz Orchestra 2017, and has performed at numerous festivals such as London Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, Glasgow Jazz Festival, as well as venues including as Ronnie Scott’s, The Royal Albert Hall and The Vortex.

Phil Hague

Phil Hague is a multi-percussionist and drummer who works within and outside of established genres.

Recent adventures have seen him establish the Glasgow Percussion Collective alongside veteran LA studio musician Steve Forman. The GPC performed a sold-out concert of special arrangements of the music of Bjork during the Glasgow Film Festival and plans for the future feature the music of John Cage alongside works by Steve Forman himself.

He regularly performs with Scotland’s national orchestras, which has recently included tours to the USA, China and Europe.

Phil plays in the band Admiral Fallow who released their 4th album in late 2021 to critical acclaim. Admiral Fallow have toured the US, Australia, Europe and the UK multiple times and have been short listed for the Scottish Album of the Year award. They have appeared at festivals such as Glastonbury, T in the Park, Latitude LA’s Culture Collide and have received regular airplay across stations such as BBC 6 Music.

Collaboration is a core part of Admiral Fallow’s identity and they have worked with composer Gareth Williams to produce site-specific opera ‘Navigate the Blood’ as well as the Glasgow Film Festival writing music to 10 brand new short films from local filmmakers.

Education is a huge passion for him, and he regularly works, alongside Emma Smith, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Vibe’ project which provides a space for young musicians to create music of any kind in an inspirational environment.

Seonaid Aitken

Seonaid Aitken

Seonaid Aitken is a violinist, vocalist, composer, arranger and broadcaster from Fife, Scotland. As one of the rare few female improvising violinists in the UK, she performs with her Scottish Jazz Award-winning Gypsy Jazz band Rose Room as well as a guest with the Tim Kliphuis Sextet and Swing 2023. She was awarded Best Vocalist twice at the Scottish Jazz Awards following her highly acclaimed Ella Fitzgerald big band show, and now performs her ‘Grappelli Night’ show across Scotland celebrating the great French Jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

Classically trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Seonaid is much in demand as a versatile session player, recording artist and arranger. She has played with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera for 22 years, in the UK touring production of Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ and has performed/recorded with acts such as Burt Bacharach, Michael Buble, Deacon Blue, Martin Taylor MBE and Eddi Reader. Seonaid presented ‘Jazz Nights’ on BBC Radio Scotland for 6 years, is a regular tutor at the Grappelli-Django Camp in The Netherlands and her latest album ‘Chasing Sakura’ was longlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award.