Cole Bendall was appointed Conductor of Surrey Youth Choir in Spring 2019 having worked for Surrey Arts as Associate Conductor of the choir and Vocal Tutor since the beginning of 2019. Critically acclaimed for his work with the pre-professional vocal ensemble, the Reid Consort, Cole’s recent career highlights include conducting the Grammy Award-winning Rundfunkchor Berlin (Berlin Radio Choir) in public masterclass and concert; devising new semi-staged works for choir and speakers including PATCHWORK REQUIEM (**** Edinburgh Guide) with the Reid Consort; collaborations with, among others, Haslemere Musical Society, the Athenaeum Singers of Warminster, Covent Garden Sinfonia, the British Sinfonietta; chorus master for Byre Opera’s national tour of Handel’s Xerxes, and assisting the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus in a staged adaptation of Parry’s Songs of Farewell. Cole’s education projects include as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and CPD workshop leader for Surrey Arts, contemporary composition tutor for projects with SOUND new music festival and Red Note Ensemble, supporting musicianship tuition for National Youth Choir of Scotland area choirs, and as a Come & Sing and vocal workshop leader for events around the United Kingdom. In 2018, Cole was awarded support from the Help Musicians UK TRANSMISSION fund; in 2017, he was awarded the Oxford University Press Andrew Potter Bursary by the Association of British Choral Directors for promising up-and-coming conductors. He studied at the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen and is in the final stages of his doctoral thesis on Estonian choral music.
An educator and writer, Cole has led workshops and Come & Sing events nationally. He is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Centre for Open Learning where he is writing his doctoral thesis on Estonian choral music. He has worked on projects with SOUND Scotland new music festival, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and area choirs from the National Youth Choir of Scotland.
When not involved in music making, Cole is a fan of travelling off-the-beaten-path, tennis, and has a soft spot for board games.
Nina Bromham has been a professional singer for nearly 20 years, with a wide range of live and recorded work. She was signed to Universal Music as a songwriter, lyric translator and vocal producer and was a live cabaret performer and backing vocalist for TV shows such as Top of the Pops and the Eurovision song contest. She has a BA Hons Arts degree with the Open University. She is the founder of Jingle Bugs music and runs early years music classes for Surrey Arts. She also runs a women’s pop choir in Reigate and a special needs choir in Leatherhead as well as intergenerational sessions in her local area. She is also a gigging singer, with regular live performances.
Catherine McKay-Upcott was born in Dublin and attended the Royal Irish Academy of Music under a flute scholarship. Catherine graduated with honours from Trinity College Dublin where she sang as a choral scholar and directed the college Chapel Choir. In 2002 she moved to London to study for a Masters degree in choral direction at the Royal Academy of Music, where she was awarded the Alan Taylor Prize. Since then Catherine has worked as a voice, flute and choir teacher throughout London and Surrey and as a choral director of children and adult choirs mostly in London. She is delighted to be starting a new chapter with SYTC.
Originally from Nottingham, Alexandra Cassidy trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the National Opera Studio and attended the Solti Accademia di Bel Canto with Leo Nucci.
With an operatic career including performances at Glyndebourne, Scottish Opera, English National Opera Grange Park Opera and many others, Alex has also performed with a wide range of ensembles, notably the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, The Hebrides Ensemble, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Paragon Ensemble.
Now that she is based in Guildford Alex is keen to expand her teaching and is leading both Singing Bugs and Singing Stars for Surrey Arts. She is experienced at leading group singing for children, having taught singing for several years, trained with the British Kodaly academy and worked at the Surrey Arts’ Singing Picnics in 2018. Alex has chosen to follow the Jolly Music Syllabus based on the principles of Hungarian teacher and composer, Kodaly because, in her experience, the children learn best when they are actively engaged, in play or group participation.
As the course progresses, they learn performance techniques such as interpreting and communicating the message of the song, and how to project whilst protecting their voices. As they grow the children can move on from Singing Bugs through other Surrey Arts vocal ensembles. Depending on their preferred genre, and in discussion with Alex, children can either progress to Singing Stars or the Surrey Youth Training Choir.
GRSM (Hons), LRAM, ARCM, ARMCM
Elizabeth graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music and subsequently from the Royal Academy of Music with qualifications in both teaching and performing. She went on to sing varied roles with English National Opera, Welsh National Opera and Florence Opera (Teatro Comunale). During her busy recital and oratorio career she has performed in the UK and abroad at concert venues including the Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Fairfield Hall and King’s College, Cambridge and also on BBC television. Elizabeth has loved singing from a very early age. She enjoys teaching her ‘I Wish I Could Sing’ class for Surrey Arts which she has taught for nearly 24 years, and has great pleasure in watching her students improve in both confidence and skill.
Ruth studied singing on the performers’ course at the Royal Northern College of Music, going on to perform with Opera Holland Park, Opera de Bauge, Thursford Productions and Opera Rara. She has been a chorus singer for the Philharmonia Voices and Geoffrey Mitchell Choir and performed as a soloist in recitals and oratorios as well as being an experienced piano accompanist. She specializes in teaching young voices, extending her teaching skills through training with The Voice Explained, Voice Workshop and The Association of Teachers of Singing, and is passionate about encouraging young musicians’ abilities. She is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher of both Musical Theatre and Classical repertoire and style, and works with students at all levels to improve their singing and musicianship, whether that is purely for pleasure or to prepare for an audition, performance or music exam . She currently also teaches singing at Putney High School, Lord Wandsworth College and Guildford Music School.