Visiting artists: The Zêzerearts team

Artistic Director

Brian MacKay


Artistic director, Zêzere Arts Festival

Brian MacKay is a distinguished conductor, pianist, vocal coach, orchestral oboist, chamber musician and teacher.

A graduate of the Royal College of Music and the Kodály Institute, he studied conducting under Lawrence Leonard, János Fürst, Katalin Kiss and Péter Erdei.

Brian conducted for many years at Castle Ward Opera as well as giving performances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Opera Theatre Company, The Czech Virtuosi, Orchestra of St Cecilia, Fishamble Voices, Wexford Sinfonia and the Nairobi Orchestra.

He spent his last two years in Ireland as principal conductor of the National Chamber Choir of Ireland.

As a coach and repetiteur he worked for many years for Opera Theatre Company and Wexford Festival Opera and has been a guest coach at the RSAMD and the Liszt Academy, Budapest.

During two years as a student in Hungary, Brian sang with the professional Hungarian choir ‘Ars Nova’ and was made a life member for his services to the group.

Now living in Portugal, he is the artistic director of the Zêzerearts Festival and continues a busy career as a freelance conductor and performer.

A chat with Brian

Associate musical directors

Aoife Hiney

Musical Director and Soprano

Aoife holds a Masters in Choral Conducting from the University of Aveiro, an Honours Degree in Music Education from Trinity College, Dublin, and a Graduate Diploma in Music Education from the Conservatory of Music and Drama (Dublin Institute of Technology).

She is currently working on her PhD in Music at the University of Aveiro. She has participated in conducting courses in Ireland, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and Brazil.

She is the musical director of Voz Nua choir based in Aveiro comprising singers of six nationalities with a strong commitment to contemporary choral music and the promotion of new music, in particular the works of young composers.

She is a bright and energetic presence who embodies her expression with commitment and commands the baton with flair.

Meet Aoife

Pedro Correia


Musical Director and Bass

Pedro Correia began studying music aged just 8 with organ studies and music theory. A graduate of the Portuguese National consevatory of Arts, he also has a degree in Singing from the Lisbon Academy of Music. He studied in masterclasses in Portugal with Liliana Bizineche, and in Andorra with Montserrat Caballé.

He has been a member of the Gulbenkian Choir since 1998, and sang with the National Theatre of St. Charles Choir from 1999 to 2004. He has a a long list of live performance and recording credits to his name as lyrical soloist, debuting in 2001 with Bartolo in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. He is a regular contributor at the Royal Theater of Queluz, the Portuguese Opera Company, with The Gym Opera and many more.

He is a charming and communicative musical director, who employs a combination of sensitive persistence and his infectious sense of fun to bring out the best in his singers.

Visiting soloists

The concert will feature performances from visiting soloist, Nélia Gonçalves, Mezzo soprano.

Nélia Gonçalves – Mezzo soprano

Nélia started her vocal studies in Conservatório de Música de Coimbra in 2001, and finished them in the class of Joaquina Ly in 2008. In 2011, she graduated in singing from the University of Aveiro, with António Salgado, and worked in chamber music with António Chagas Rosa. In 2013 she finished her master’s degree in education (singing).

Her performance credits include choral works by Mozart, Handel, Charpentier, Saint-Saens and Operas by Rossini, Poulenc and Purcell.

Nélia’s voice combines rich expression with an absolutely authentic quality of tone, highly developed technical competence and imagination to deliver a listening experience which is not to be missed!