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.
Cole Bendall is delighted to be joining Surrey Youth Choir as Associate Conductor and Vocal Tutor during the 2018-19 academic year.
Critically acclaimed for his work with the pre-professional vocal ensemble, the Reid Consort, Cole’s other posts include as Musical Director of the Athenaeum Singers of Warminster and Chorus Master of Haslemere Musical Society alongside posts in liturgical music. In 2018, Cole worked with the Grammy-winning Rundfunkchor Berlin (Berlin Radio Choir) conducting them in concert in Verdi Te Deum. He has appeared in masterclasses with Sonoro Choir (London), Wimbledon Choral Society, the Royal Northern College of Music and Hallé Youth Orchestra. He has worked with, among other groups, the British Sinfonietta, Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus, Universities of Scotland Symphony Orchestra and Byre Opera, recently acting as Chorus Master on a tour of Handel Xerxes. One of the top 16 conductors featured at the Gheorges Dima Choral Conducting Competition, Romania (2018), Cole has also been awarded the Oxford University Press Andrew Potter Bursary by the Association of British Choral Directors (2017) and support from the Help Musicians UK TRANSMISSION fund.
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. Or whisky. Or both, depending on the circumstances.
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.
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.