Vocal Tutors

Cole Bendall | Hannah Carpenter | Cerys Reading | Catherine McKay-Upcott | Caroline Pearce | Marc Hermans | Lesley Gladigau | Elizabeth Castle | Lucy Zirins

Cole Bendall

A dynamic musician and an imaginative creative leader, Cole Bendall is a conductor and vocal specialist based in Surrey. Cole is presently Conductor of Surrey County Youth Choir and Brockham Choral Society, Artistic Director of the Reid Consort and Director of Music at St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield. In 2022, he succeeded George Jones as Musical Director of the Surrey Primary Singing Festival Concerts.

Recent and upcoming highlights include performances with Academy of Ancient Music, Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, Covent Garden Sinfonia, British Sinfonietta; assisting Gregory Batsleer and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus (in a five-star staged-adaption of Parry’s Songs of Farewell); appearances at festivals in St Andrews and Edinburgh; masterclasses with Rundfunkchor Berlin, Sonoro Choir and Turkish State Choir. He has received critical acclaim for creative programming and innovative interdisciplinary staging of choral works with the Reid Consort: projects have included world and national premieres; PATCHWORK REQUIEM; Nordic Landscapes and a virtual choir version of the Fauré Requiem.

In demand as a workshop leader and tutor for youth groups, university students and adults, Cole has delivered seminars for groups in the UK, USA and mainland Europe. His passion for educating new generations of musicians and teachers is seen in his work for Ark Music as a Junior Artist-in-Residence, and for Surrey Arts and Kingston Music Service as an Ensemble Leader. In 2017, he received the Andrew Potter Bursary for emerging conductors from the Association of British Choral Directors; in 2018, he participated in the Dima Choral Conducting Competition in Romania (Top 16) and was a recipient of the Help Musicians UK TRANSMISSION fund.

Cole is a Visiting Teaching Fellow in Music at the Centre for Open Learning at the University of Edinburgh. His PhD thesis on the choral music of the Estonian composer, Veljo Tormis, is nearing completion. He writes regularly on topics of choral music and identity, cultural politics and the rise of virtual choirs, hybrid choral coaching and digital media in choral music and has recently written a chapter for the upcoming Oxford Handbook of Community Singing, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2022. He studies conducting with Neil Ferris and Ben Palmer.

Hannah Carpenter

Hannah Carpenter was born in Auckland, New Zealand and has spent the first decade of her career working as a singing teacher, choral director, freelance soprano soloist, and chorister. In July 2021, Hannah emigrated to England. She is excited to be taking on the direction of the Surrey Youth Training Choir, as well as teaching voice and piano at Surrey Arts.

Hannah holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Classical Voice Performance from the University of Auckland and a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching. Other qualifications include certificates in Orff Schulwerk Level 1 & 2 and Kodaly Primary and Secondary Level 1. In 2019, she gained her Licentiate Diploma in Singing from Trinity College London (LTCL) with Distinction under the tuition of Dame Malvina Major. In 2019-20, Hannah was a regional coordinator for the Kids Sing Choral Festival for her local primary schools. This involved leading the learning and conducting of massed singing items with over 400 children. In 2017 Hannah founded the Tron Songsters Children’s Choir in Hamilton, New Zealand, which led to her selection as one of 60 “Arts Leaders and Changemakers” in the Global Leaders Program 2022.

Hannah loves creating an interest for singing in schools and communities and seeing students gain new skills and confidence through music. Teaching a variety of genres is all part of the fun: Hannah enjoys teaching equally in styles of musical theatre, opera, classical, pop and jazz.  

Alongside music teaching, Hannah maintains an interest in pastoral care: previously she worked in the boarding house of St Paul’s Collegiate, Hamilton, New Zealand; currently, she is Assistant Housemistress at Ardingly College.   Hannah loves learning, herself, and when not making music is usually doing some kind of Personal Development, or if she’s lucky, out and about discovering ancient ruins, walks with views and trying out recipes!

Outside of teaching, she is passionate about anything theatrical and her two crazy Tibetan Terriers Poppy and Daisy.

Catherine McKay-Upcott

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.

Caroline Pearce

Caroline has many years of experience leading choirs of all ages and abilities. She took up the post of organist and choir leader whilst in sixth form and trained through the RSCM, taking a year out to qualify as a piano teacher with the Guildhall School of music. 

Having graduated from Nottingham University with BA Hons in music, she continued to make music throughout a career in HR. From directing acapella groups and shows, playing kit and tuned percussion for big bands and amateur musicals, to setting up scratch adult choirs for those  who don’t read music, Caroline relishes every opportunity to encourage those who say they ‘cannot sing’ to experience the satisfaction of discovering that they can. 

She has sung in various choirs, including the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year winners Choros Amici, and currently performs regularly with the recently formed female group Corra Sound, comprising professionally trained and high level amateur voices.

Caroline returned to a full-time career in music as a piano teacher and running ‘Music with Mummy’ classes 18 years ago. She started teaching tuning up percussion, class music and singing in schools for Surrey Arts just over 12 years ago and having discovered the joy of working with SEN children through ‘ start up’ choirs, was appointed Director for the ‘Just So’ county ensemble , following their 25th anniversary concert last Summer.

Elizabeth Castle 


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.

Marc Hermans

Marc comes from Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands. He did his B.Ed and MA Teaching and Performance in drum-kit, orchestral percussion, and singing. His wife comes from Kingston-upon-Thames and is also a musician. 

After completing his studies, Marc played in various bands and orchestras in Holland, Belgium and Germany; for example, the South Netherlands Philharmonic and Southern Opera (Opera Zuid). He sang the role of Piangi in the Dutch production of Phantom of the Opera in The Hague, and performed as one of “The Three Tenors” in Germany. Marc also sang as a tenor at the Aalto Opera House in Germany for five years. 

Marc taught for many years in Holland, Belgium and Germany where his pupils often won prizes such as The Dutch Championships, Young Musician in Germany, and The Sonatina National Competition in Belgium. He moved to England in 2015 and has been with Surrey Arts since then. 

Marc enjoys walking his dog, Teddy, and doing the gardening. He also loves scones with jam and cream!

Lesley Gladigau

Lesley Gladigau studied singing, clarinet and piano at the Welsh College of Music and Drama, in Cardiff. She gained her Licentiate Diploma and Advanced Certificate of music, with merits in performance. She continued her singing studies on the Advanced Music Course at the Royal Academy of Music, during which time she won the Isabel Jay award for sopranos and mezzo-sopranos. After completing her advanced singing studies at RAM, Lesley started work as a peripatetic music teacher, working for different music services providing lessons in singing, clarinet and piano.

Since joining Surrey Arts, Lesley has delivered wider opportunities music sessions in primary schools, and teaches individual lessons in piano, flute and singing. She is experienced in SEN settings and also enjoys organizing concerts and musical events for the children. She has entered many students for musical examinations over the years and works on the musical theory, musicianship, aural and sight reading disciplines that are also important for the graded examinations.

Lesley continues to sing professionally, and performs regularly in churches and venues around Surrey and London. She also regularly performs with the Holst Singers in London.

Lucy Zirins

Lucy Zirins (BA Songwriting – First Class Honours) is the conductor for West SAYS and assistant tutor for SEND choir Just So Singers. She is also Inclusion Project Coordinator for Surrey Arts, working to facilitate projects bringing music to vulnerable young people and children across the county.

A working musician and songwriter from just 15 years old, Lucy hails from the small town of Burnley, Lancashire. Combining a mix of country, folk, blues and gospel influences, Lucy was gigging internationally by the time she was just 18 years old. She is a British Blues Award winner, and in 2010 was recognised as one of the country’s youngest earning songwriters by PRS for Music and featured in a high-profile event in London set up to recognise and support the UK’s most promising young talent. With airplay on BBC Radio 2 and 6 Lucy has had a successful career as an independent musician, working with many high-profile musicians and producers and recording and releasing numerous albums and E.P.s through her own label, as well as working alongside as an occasional session musician, teacher and workshop leader.

Lucy believes in the power of music as a vehicle for connection and whilst on hiatus after a ten-year stint of gigging, writing and releasing music, Lucy came to work for Surrey Arts. She now works as a project coordinator, as well as tutoring on Singing Picnics, writing and arranging for her choirs, tutors on projects with vulnerable young people including refugees and asylum seekers, and she is also active in her local community choir as a member.