At the age of 14, Wasfi Kani won a place in the National Youth Orchestra where she was the only non-white member. At 18, she auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music and was accepted but turned this down for an offer from Oxford University where she read music. By 1993 she had made conducting her full-time career.
In 1989, Kani founded the small-scale touring company Pimlico Opera. In 1992, while continuing to run Pimlico, Kani was made chief executive of Garsington Opera. During her five years’ tenure, she doubled their turnover.
In 1998 she created a new opera house at Grange Park, with a new company Grange Park Opera. In the ten years since its inception, she has created an opera festival of the highest artistic standards that rivals Glyndebourne and each summer turns over more than £2m. In recognition of her contribution, she received an OBE for services to music in the New Year’s Honour’s List 2002.