2012 Margaret J Smith LRAM GRSM
was born and brought up in Skipton, North Yorkshire, and was an enthusiastic
participant in local festivals from a very young age. She studied the piano,
initially with Dame Fanny Waterman, and then at the Royal Academy of Music,
with the violin as an additional first study.
2012 Valerie Hoppe - MBE, GGSM, LGSM, ARCM
Valerie trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, specialising in
Choral Conducting, Singing and Piano. She is widely known as a Choral
Director, teacher and adjudicator, and is particularly in demand for her
work with the development of young voices, both in solo and choral work. She
has a large teaching practice, working with solo voices of all ages and
2012 Gaynor Keeble - BEd Hons ARCM ARAM ALCM
gained scholarships to the University of Warwick and the Royal
Academy of Music. She combines a busy performing career with teaching both
privately & at Warwick University & adjudicating at many festivals. She has
also worked extensively with English Touring Opera’s Education Programme
back, Anne can trace her love of speech and drama to the inspired decision
by her mother to send her to ‘elocution lessons to improve her spelling’.
Being dyslexic it did little for her spelling, but it opened the magic
window to an abiding love of verse, speaking, literature, theatre - and to
her future career.
2011 Gary Sieling BMus MA FRCO
in Bedfordshire and educated at Dunstable Grammar School, Gary read for his
BMus degree at the University of London, Goldsmiths’ College. While a
student he played for the debut of the London Cantata Choir with whom he is
still associated. He studied the organ at the Royal College of Music and St
Catherine’s College Cambridge. In 1981 he became a FRCO and in 1997 attained
an MA in Performance from Anglia Ruskin University.
2011 Melanie Armitstead MA
Armitstead studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the
National Opera Studio after taking a degree in Russian and French at Durham
University. She began her career working with Scottish Opera, then working
with Kent Opera, Opera North, Opera Northern Ireland and The Chatelêt in
Paris singing roles by Mozart, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Bizet and Britten.
Concerts and Recitals took Melanie to Japan, Spain, France, Holland and many
Festivals and Music Societies within the UK.
2010 Lesley Dunstan BMus (Hons), BSc (Hons), LRAM, ARCM
Lesley Dunstan was born in London; studying piano and clarinet as joint first instruments, she gained a diploma in each, and a BMus degree. During her early career she was the Oxford Correspondent for the Musical Times and also assisted in the production of the New Grove Dictionary of Music. As well as teaching individually and in groups in private and local authority schools, she also tutored at the Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Open University.
2010 Cally Foster LLAM, MSTSD
Since her first appearance in a festival at the age of five, Cally has remained committed to the festival movement and has pursued a career as a speech and drama specialist. She has been the principal of her Buckinghamshire based drama studio for the past 20 years, combining that role with travelling extensively in the UK, Europe and overseas (including Japan, Singapore, Kuwait, the Emirates, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong) as an examiner for LAMDA.
Cally believes that performing in festivals not only encourages an appreciation for the arts but also improves the presentation and communication skills that are so important in today's world. As an adjudicator member of the British & International Federation of Festivals, Cally is delighted to have been invited to adjudicate at the Kettering & District Eisteddfod. She wishes everyone an enjoyable as well as a positive experience.
2010 Suzanne Higgins MA (Music) BA Cert Ed
Born in Denmark, Suzanne grew up in Yorkshire, where she had her first singing lessons with Betty Middleton. After five years as a lecturer in Further Education she joined the chorus of the Opera Royale de Wallonie in Liège, Belgium, subsequently moving to that of Cologne Opera.
Whilst in Belgium and Germany she continued her studies, gaining her
Reifeprüfung from the Cologne Musikhochschule. and later teaching singing at
the Rheinisch- Westfälische Technische Hochschule in Aachen and the
University of Cologne. Since her return to England she has worked as a
freelance with the BBC singers, London Voices, the Britten Singers and the
London Sinfonietta, as well as touring extensively with the Arena Carmen for
Classical Productions. She has taken operatic roles for London City Opera
and London Opera Players.
2010 Dr Vivien Pike Hon.M.Mus, GRSM, ARMCM, LGSM, FRSA
Vivien studied music at the Royal Manchester / Royal Northern College of Music after previously studying medical sciences. She graduated with teaching and performing diplomas and a silver medal. Vivien has wide experience as a soprano soloist with many choral societies and recitalist for music societies. She has sung in choirs from the age of 7 and is a former member of the BBC Northern Singers and choir soloist with the Sheffield Philharmonic Choir.
Over the years as a peripatetic teacher of singing, she has taught hundreds of young singers, particularly in South Yorkshire, one of the first being Lesley Garrett. She formed the City of Sheffield Girls' Choir in 1979 (now Cantores Novae) and her choirs have won many prizes in national and international competitions. The choirs have enjoyed tours to Italy, Germany, Ireland, Australia (where they represented UK at the first Melbourne International Choral Festival), Canada and USA, Finland and Estonia.
2009 Dr Eileen Bentley MBE
Eileen Bentley was born in Oldham and studied voice, piano and organ at Tle Royal College of Music in Manchester. She has spent most of her career working with young people as singing teacher and choralist and in 1974 became one of the first peripatetic singing teachers in England working in schools with youth choirs and children's choirs.The following year she founded the Oldham Girls' Choir which went on to establish a national reputation winning major awards at many Festivals including Llangollen International Eisteddfod, The Elgar Festival the International Choral Competition in Malta and the British Federation Choir of Choirs Festivals in Warwick.
In 1982 she became Director of Music for the Oldham LEA where she continues to work with young people. During the 1980s she undertook research into the development of music education in the curriculum in England during the twentieth century and in 1989 was awarded a Doctorate from Manchester Victoria University. One important aspect of her work is the importance of getting boys singing and keeping them singing. In 1995 she became the conductor of the Oldham. Boys' Choir which was featured in the 2004 BBC2 documentary "Britten's Children". In 1999 she founded the Oldham Youth Choir. There are now fifty four members of this choir which in the past five years has made both radio and television appearances, produced three CDs and appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of the Schools' Proms. Recently Eileen has been a member of two National Executives for Music Education in this country - The Federation of Music Services and also the National Association of Music Educators. As a teacher and lecturer in vocal studies and choral work she has led choral workshops for both children's and adult choirs across the UK. In 2006 she was awarded the MBE for services to music education.
2009 Maria Jagusz GRNCM
Maria Jagum trained at the Royal Northern College of Music and the
National Opera Studio. Since then she has worked as soloist for most of the
leading opera companies in the U.K. and Europe. Her roles include Carmen,
Cherubino, Nicklaus, Rosina, Hansel and Dorabella. She has sung with many
international artists including Carreras, Dom-ingo, Dame Kid Te Kanewa and
Mirella Freni. She is a guest artist for P&O classical music cruises and
performs with Richard Baker and Henry Kelly.
2009 Christina Thornson LRAM ARCM GRSM PGCA
Christina Thomson attended the Royal Academy of Music after leaving the National
Youth Orchestra. A fascinating career as a horn player in Germany followed.
She returned to London in 1984 to perform chamber music; she became a
soloist with several chamber orchestras and taught at Harrow and the Purcell
School. In 1991 she returned to her home town of Ripon where she teaches at
the Ripon Choir School, Ampleforth College and Hurworth House School, as
well as having an extensive private teaching practice encompassing ages 5
2009 SilvieTaylor FTCL LTCL ATCL
Silvie Taylor is from Dundee and has been an adjudicator member of the
British & International Federation of Festivals for over 30 years, during
which time she has covered festivals throughout UK, Canada, Zimbabwe, Sri
Lanka and, on many occasions, Hong Kong. She is also a member of SASDA
(Scottish Association of Speech & Drama Adjudicators) and SCDA (Scottish
Community Drama Association).