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Nick has more than a decade of choral and orchestral conducting experience, and is currently Director of Girl Choristers at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford. In addition to conducting, Nick holds the ARCO organ diploma, and is a published composer. Off the podium, Nick fills the Head of Finance & Operations role on the SfP management team. He also works in digital consulting with Deloitte Digital, and enjoys exchanging his organ shoes for football boots when given the opportunity.
Don Gillthorpe is Director of Music at Ripley St Thomas CE Academy in Lancaster, where he has established a thriving department with a culture of music making as an integral part of school life. As part of the school’s wider remit, Don is a Lead Practitioner and a Specialist Leader in Education, supporting other music departments and leading a school-centred Secondary Music PGCE programme. Don is Head of Publications for Sing for Pleasure as well as tutoring on SfP conducting courses. Alongside this, Don is Director of Music at Lancaster Priory and Director of Church Music for the Morland Choristers’ Camp.
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“The training I was given in 2013-14 as part of the first Sing for Pleasure Young Conductors Programme is the most valuable I have ever received. The skills I gained have had an enormous impact on all aspects of my life. Not only are my choirs far happier now, but I feel able to stand up and confidently educate and inspire children and adults across a broad spectrum of musical subjects.
SfP really is about training the next generation of vocal leaders so that we can encourage even more people to sing. The network that you develop as part of the organisation – of truly inspiring people – is a gift. I work with adult and youth choirs at my local church, and in workshops, and am in a far better place to help them sing at their best as a result of SfP’s help. I can’t thank them enough.”
Nick was subsequently selected to train as a choral conducting tutor with SfP, and now leads courses across the country; in 2018 he was invited to join our Senior Management Team, taking on the role of Head of Finance and Operations.
“It was a privilege to have been one of the Young Conducting Scholars for 2018-19; a year through which I feel I grew both technically and musically, thanks to the training and support I received over the 12 months.
I have become much more confident as a musical leader, shown in my improved gesture, confidence in my interpretation and vocal modelling, as well as general leadership. Not only did this manifest itself in my conducting, but also in my self-belief, bolstering my decision to pursue conducting as a career.”
In 2020, Jamie received a scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music to study for his Masters degree in choral conducting there, beginning in September 2020.
“My scholarship for 2017-18 was an incredible experience. The group sessions and one-to-one mentoring taught me so much, and without the scholarship, it would have been impossible financially for me to have had the same experiences. My conducting skills underwent a dramatic technical improvement; I am now much more controlled, and I am able to achieve better results by doing less. I am also much more confident thanks to the scholarship, both in front of a choir/orchestra and in applying for conducting jobs.
I gained so much during the year; I had the opportunity to learn from some inspirational conductors and along the way I made some great new friends who share my passion for conducting.”
Olivia began a Masters degree in choral conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in Autumn 2019, and was appointed Assistant Leader for the London Youth Cambiata Girl’s Choir in October of that year.
“Being a Young Conducting Scholar on the 2015-16 programme was a huge privilege, and I greatly benefited from the intense training offered, particularly during the group sessions at the conducting weekends and summer school. The continuity throughout the year is a real benefit of the scheme. It allows you to work on specific aspects of your conducting during the year, picking up where you left off last time. I had a wonderful year with SfP and had many positive, memorable and intuitive learning experiences.”
Jack went on to study a Masters degree in choral conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, and has since taken part in a number of international competitions, reaching the semi-finals in the Jazep Vitols International Choral Conducting Competition and the World Choral Conducting Competition in Hong Kong in 2019, and receiving Second Prize at the inaugural London International Choral Conducting Competition in 2018.
“I had never directed a choir when I applied to be a Young Conducting Scholar; I was very fortunate to gain a place and I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever done. The tuition is second to none, the people involved in the organisation are now some of my closest friends… and the memories I have from my training will stay with me for a long time. I particularly valued the emphasis on encouraging conductors to think carefully about the singers in front of them, and working to elicit the best choral sound that they, as a group, can achieve.
I would not be where I am today had I not participated in the programme, and I am extremely grateful to all the tutors for their continued support and guidance.”
Helen now conducts a variety of school-based choirs and uses the principles learned from SfP on a daily basis.
“The scholarship made a massive difference. I’m a singer and a pianist, and when I first started conducting choirs, I thought ‘well, I understand singing, I can read the score, and I can play the piano; here we go’. You really have no idea what you’re doing, but my SfP training has given me the right to call myself a conductor. It’s a really holistic approach to conducting; I feel very confident taking on quite epic works now, thanks to my training. And you build a network of professional contacts, alongside the supportive one of SfP friends, tutors, mentors… I hate to sound such a cliché, but it’s been life-changing, absolutely life-changing…”
Neil continues to lead choirs across the north of England, in addition to pursuing his singing career.
David enjoyed a Board level career at the John Lewis Partnership where he held senior roles in Retail, Commercial and Supply Chain. He has relevant experience of a number of non-executive roles, spanning retail, sport, local government, community and voluntary, charity, regulatory and trade bodies. He is a Trustee of the Zoological Society of London and Deputy Chairman of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.
Lynda worked as Administrator to the Standing Conference for Amateur Music which was then supporting the newly formed Sing for Pleasure organisation. She strengthened her involvement with SfP over more than 25 years, as a volunteer and employee, and as the CEO, ‘grew the business’ from home. Subsequently she joined the Learning Support Team as a Dyslexia Specialist in the London Borough of Newham and also served for 13 years as a magistrate in East London. Singing in choirs and as a soloist has given her great pleasure since her junior school days and she continues to do so now.
Currently a Headteacher in Newcastle, Miles was first involved with Sing for Pleasure at secondary school through his teacher Rosemary Redding. His career has included secondary, special education and 20 years leading primary schools with lecturing at universities on music, maths, creativity and leadership. He has served on a number of boards including Culture Bridge North East, Newcastle Fairness Commission, Schools Northeast and as Chair of Newcastle Cultural Education Partnership. For two years he ran the Concordia Project – a large scale singing in school initiative funded by Paul Hamlin Foundation. He sings in a couple of choirs and is about to embark on new adventures as he leaves headship.
Catherine Beddison is Deputy Head (Operational) at Cranleigh Prep School, which involves overseeing the day-to-day running of the school and provides daily creative challenges of problem solving and innovative thinking. An expert in musical education, she has an impressive track record of setting high standards, enthusing children and adults, and encouraging them to fully develop their musical skills. Catherine specialises in choral work and conducts Cranleigh Prep School Chamber Choir and Cranleigh Choral Society. She has a long-standing respect and great affection for Sing for Pleasure, currently serving as a member of the Trustee board and working as a tutor.
Stephen studied at Trinity College, London, and at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA. He has enjoyed a successful career as a director of music in secondary schools, and has also worked as a freelance conductor, pianist and percussionist. He is a conductor trainer for SfP, an examiner for the Royal Schools of Music, and a published arranger (OUP) and choral director He has also served as Chairman of Trustees for SfP.
Katy Lavinia Cooper is Director of Chapel Music at the University of Glasgow and works extensively as a choral conductor, arranger and workshop leader throughout the UK. She is co-director/founder of Glasgow Madrigirls, and conducts Scottish Opera’s Community Choir. Katy completed a PhD focussing on seventeenth century Scottish vocal music in 2016, and was appointed as Head of Marketing at Sing for Pleasure in 2020.
A former “Outstanding” primary school teacher, Ula is a leading conductor, teacher trainer and workshop leader, whose work has taken her around the UK and abroad. Ula sings with the renowned choir Ex Cathedra and is one of their lead education vocal tutors. She co-created Ex Cathedra Education’s internationally acclaimed and award-winning Singing Playgrounds project. A trained choral conductor, Ula currently conducts a number of choirs including the 200-strong CBSO SO Vocal, the CBSO Children’s Chorus and the National Teachers’ Choir. She is Head of Events for the National Choral Organisation, Sing for Pleasure and Choral Programme Director for The People’s Orchestra. When not working, Ula enjoys walking and crafting and is happiest when she is by the sea!
Tomos Watkins is a PhD student in Historical Musicology at University College Dublin. Prior to this he was Director of Music at the Cardiff Oratory in Formation and worked across the UK as a freelance conductor, having graduated from his MMus in Choral Conducting at RWCMD with Distinction in 2018. He also works regularly as a freelance singer and keyboard player. He joined Sing for Pleasure in 2014 and hasn’t looked back since.
Themba Mvula trained as an opera singer at Birmingham Conservatoire, but he has also been heavily influenced by gospel, jazz, pop and African music. He is the musical director of Lichfield Gospel Choir, a community of more than 100 members he has led for over 10 years. He has also worked with many other groups as a choral specialist or workshop leader including Birmingham Opera Company, Ex Cathedra Boys Academy, and The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain. As a soloist he has performed in the UK and abroad with companies including English National Opera, Opera North, Welsh National Opera, and Birmingham Opera Company.
Naomi Berry is a singer and choral director working across the UK and internationally. Having graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with a degree in Vocal and Operatic Studies, she was twice awarded the Corton Hyde Early Music prize and the Leamington Music prize with her consort, The Brindley Consort. Now, she is the choral director for King Edward VI Handsworth Grammar School for Girls, as well as running workplace, chamber and community choirs in the region. Naomi joined the SfP family when she was in Sixth Form and has been joining in the fun ever since.
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Passionate about the arts and education, Suzzie’s high-energy vocal workshops have gained her international reputation with singers of all ages across the UK, Asia, the USA, the UAE and Africa. In demand as a vocal specialist she conducts the National Children’s Choir, Orchestra of the Swan Chamber Choir, Polymnia and Ex Cathedra Girls Academy and has been a guest conductor for ensembles including: Ex Cathedra, CBSO Children’s Chorus and Manchester Chamber Choir. Suzzie is Head of Vocal Studies at Bromsgrove School, Schools Programme Leader for Music of Life Foundation working with children with disabilities, and a tutor for Ex Cathedra Education, composing for their “SingMaker” education resources. She founded and performs in critically acclaimed, all-female, a cappella ensemble Papagena.
Stuart is a choral director based in Manchester. He directs a number of choirs including the Hallè Youth Choirs and Royal Northern College of Music choirs and National Children’s Choir of Great Britain (green choir). He also works across the country leading workshops and training in both education and choral settings.
Sarah has conducted numerous professional and amateur groups including the Hilliard Ensemble, Chamber Choir Ireland, Cape Town Philharmonic, English Baroque and Reading Bach Choirs and Harlow Chorus. She guest chorusmasters the BBC Symphony Chorus and is director of the Dubai Opera Festival Chorus which made its debut at the 2019 BBC Proms Dubai. As a singer Sarah directs leading professional female consort Papagena and is in huge demand as a conducting tutor, working at all major conservatoires, Oxford University, Sing for Pleasure, the Association of British Choral Directors and on BBC2’s TV series ‘Maestro’.
Ruth works for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain in the role of Head of Artistic Planning & Participation and is a senior member of the artistic and management teams. Previous roles include Senior Education Projects Manager at Glyndebourne and Producer (Youth & Community) at Welsh National Opera. Originally from North Wales, she studied at St Edmund Hall Oxford University (with a choral scholarship) then gained a Masters in Music from Bangor University. In addition to arts management, Ruth is a choral conductor and part of the tutor team at Sing for Pleasure, CȃnSing and Morland Choristers’ Camp.
Rebecca Berkley leads the Musicianship for Singers programmes for Sing for Pleasure. Rebecca is an Associate Professor in Music Education at the University of Reading. Specialising in choral education, musicianship and musical leadership, she teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and is a doctoral supervisor. She is also director of Universal Voices, a community choir for children which offers a free choral education to all children in the Reading area, along with training opportunities for aspiring local choral conductors and music education students.
Miles is a choral director, pianist and singer based in Hertfordshire. On completing his music degree at Cambridge, Miles worked for the John Lewis Partnership. On retiring from John Lewis about 10 years ago he has since focused on his choral directing activities principally with ‘open to all’ community choirs. He is an enthusiastic advocate of solfa and helps his singers understand how they can use it to pitch their notes. His principal aim is to help singers perform together to the best of their ability and for them to have fun doing so.
Mark is the Musical Director of Oxford Pro Musica Singers and Milton Keynes Chorale, and a regular guest conductor of the award-winning choir Canzonetta. Described as ‘dynamic’, ‘energetic’ and ‘fun to work with’, he was recently chorus master for Karl Jenkins’ 75th Birthday Concert Tour and is a member of the choral conducting team at the Chester Choral Week, as well as undertaking many freelance engagements throughout the UK. He has been tutoring for Sing for Pleasure since 2013. Mark also regularly works as an accompanist and has held positions with many choirs over the years. He is also a highly-experienced choral singer having worked with several award-winning amateur and semi-professional choirs.
Liz George is a freelance qualified teacher, vocal leader and primary music specialist based in the West Midlands. She has delivered training on Singing with Makaton and on developing musical literacy through ukulele and singing, as well as regular class-based teaching and work with school choirs. Liz is the founder and director of a thriving WI choir, who in 2015 became national finalists in the WI’s ‘Choir of the Centenary’ Competition. Liz has maintained strong links with SfP since completing the Advanced Conducting Course in 2012, and has directed the ever-popular Children’s Singing Week in Walsall since 2017.
Imelda Shirley is an experienced teacher, choral conductor and conductor trainer. She has been associated with Sing for Pleasure for over 30 years, where as a senior conducting tutor, she works on a range of events including its summer schools and acclaimed Vocal Leadership Training Programme (VLTP). She is currently Assistant Head of Wigan Music Service (part of GM Music Hub), taking a lead for Early Years music education and a number of vocal/curriculum projects in schools. Imelda holds an MA in Music Education (IoE/UCL). She currently conducts the Wigan Community Choir and sings with Sine Nomine International Touring Choir.
Manvinder Rattan is CEO & Head of Conductor Training for Sing for Pleasure and he is responsible for the charity’s overall performance in delivering its key objectives whilst specifically leading a team of tutors who teach around 300 conductors a year. The acclaimed programme is very popular and for the last two years, 100% of respondents have rated its training as good to excellent. Manvinder has been Musical Director of the John Lewis Partnership Music Society since 1995 where he is responsible for its 15 choirs and an orchestra, he was a judge for BBC2’s ‘The Choir’ with Gareth Malone, focussing on singing in the workplace. He is also Musical Director of Serafine Chamber Choir and Sinfonia with whom he released the premiere recording of Oliver Tarney’s Magnificat. Freelance engagements keep him busy, with numerous guest conducting, teaching and adjudicating engagements in the UK and abroad. Manvinder was awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, York St John University, for his services to music and conducting in 2016.