Assistant Artistic Director
Youth Music Programme Coordinator and Finance & Marketing Officer
Adult Music Programme Coordinator
Music for Everyone Board of Trustees
John Hess – Chairman
From television to tenor, John joined Music for Everyone’s Festival Chorus after making a film for BBC TV about our 30th anniversary celebrations and MfE’s Founder Angela Kay. Inspired by our music making, he was invited to join the board in 2015 and has been our chair for the last six years. A journalist and broadcaster, John was the BBC’s Political Editor for the East Midlands and reported from Westminster and closer to home, on the latest political developments. He’s also an Honorary Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. These days, John is a busy grandfather of four and – if he’s not on MfE duty – his time is taken up with welcome babysitting shifts!
Dr Angela Smallwood – Secretary
Angela has been a Trustee of Music for Everyone for many years, is Secretary to the Board and represents the Trustees on the Artistic Committee, which oversees MfE’s creative work and planning, especially repertoire. She also serves on the Awarding Group for Angela Kay’s MfE Founder’s Fund for Artistic Development. She sang in the Nottingham Choral Trust Chorus in the first ever event, the Verdi Requiem performance at the Royal Concert Hall in 1983 – and just stayed. Her musical experience as a long-time member of the Nottingham Chamber Singers has brought unimaginable enrichment to her life and she hopes to see MfE continue for many more years inspiring and empowering ever more people to be exhilarated by making music with others, achieving more than they would ever have imagined.
Following a career as an academic in English Studies at the University of Nottingham, she now volunteers as a Director of Bookwise and as part-time manager of the Bookwise shop in Goose Gate, Nottingham, where fund-raising for Music for Everyone is both highly successful and great fun.
Matthew Lax – Treasurer
Matthew studied music at the University of Nottingham where he focused on performance. He has 20 years experience in arts management and is currently the Deputy Chief Executive of professional orchestra Sinfonia Viva. His role there has evolved over the years but includes orchestral management, music library and technical duties and recently has been instrumental in updating the orchestra’s financial management systems.
As a performer, Matthew is in demand as an orchestral trumpet player in the Nottingham area and regularly performs with the Music for Everyone orchestras as well as with many other orchestras and musical theatre societies in the region.
Matthew has been on the board of trustees since the formation of the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and has been the Treasurer since 2015.
Rachel is chair of the finance sub-committee of the Trustees working closely with the Treasurer. She is a member of Nottingham Chamber Singers, occasional recorder player and pianist, and is passionate about Music for Everyone’s programmes of activity.
Rachel has 30 years of experience of working in arts management, leading on areas including finance, personnel, legal and administration. More recently she has been working as a hospital administrator.
Janet has worked in the creative industries all her life: as a journalist; commercial and Government PR officer and television and radio regulator. Music and singing has also been a constant and in the last few years she has added visual art and dance to the list of passions. She joined the Nottingham Choral Trust as an alto/2nd soprano in the late 1980s and became a Trustee of MfE about four years ago. With her communications background Janet specialises in advising MfE on marketing and public relations. Locally she also sings with the NTU Choir and the church choir in Wollaton and regularly exhibits her art work.
Josie is an enthusiastic singer with local choirs, participant in the Nottingham Festival Chorus, and lapsed trombonist. She currently works with international students at the University of Nottingham as an immigration adviser, and before changing career she worked for local Members of Parliament for 30 years, during which time she became familiar with and impressed by the work of Music for Everyone. She has wide experience of community involvement and voluntary management roles. ‘Music for Everyone has brought the joy of music-making back into my life. Little can beat the pleasure of singing in a large group, with wonderful leaders and teachers. I hope I can help others find what MfE can do for them too’.
Angela Kay MBE
Founder and Creative Adviser, Conductor – Nottingham Chamber Singers, Southwell Daytime Voices & Wollaton Daytime Voices
Angela Kay studied at Nottingham College of Education, now Nottingham Trent University, and has been involved with the choral life of Nottinghamshire for most of her professional life. After giving up her post as head of music at a comprehensive school in 1980 to raise a family, Angela formed the Nottingham Choral Trust (now Music for Everyone) and continued to develop it by working with enthusiasm and imagination as its Artistic Director. Originally known in Nottingham as a mezzo soprano soloist, Angela’s career developed first into choral and then into orchestral conducting. She has conducted many of the major works from the choral repertoire to critical acclaim, including Brahms’ Requiem, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Bach’s St Matthew Passion. In July 2003, Angela received an honorary Masters degree from Nottingham Trent University in recognition of her services to Music Education.
Most recently, Angela was awarded an MBE in the 2014 New Year Honours list for services to music in Nottinghamshire and in 2015 was awarded the Lady Hilary Groves Prize by the national music organisation, Making Music. This prize is awarded to one individual each year for their outstanding contribution to music making in their local community.
Artistic Director, Conductor – Nottingham Festival Chorus
Alex is an experienced conductor and harpsichordist. He graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class degree in Music (MusB) and the Royal Northern College of Music with an MMus in Performance at Distinction level (Conducting). He studied at Manchester University with Mark Heron & Justin Doyle (RIAS Kammerchor) and later with Clark Rundell at the RNCM.
He is the Music Director of the Lake District’s Furness Bach Choir and the Music Director of Haffner Orchestra in Lancaster, the Amaretti Chamber Orchestra in Stockport, and Nottingham Youth Orchestra.
He has worked with a number of British orchestras as conductor and assistant conductor, including the BBC Philharmonic, the Hallé, Liverpool Philharmonic, Northern Chamber Orchestra, The Old Street Band, Manchester Camerata, Psappha, as well as a number of opera companies as conductor and as a harpishordist/repetiteur including Radius Opera and English Touring Opera.
On the international stage, Alex has worked with the Allegra Festival Orchestra in Bulgaria, the Prague Philharmonia, CR and Spokane Symphony in Washington, USA. He has worked as assistant conductor for a number of internationally renowned conductors including Sir Mark Elder, Sir Andrew Davies, Vassily Petrenko, James Lowe, Nicolas Collon, Juanjo Mena and Gerry Cornelius.
Other notable highlights include working as Assistant Conductor for Heritage Opera and the BBC Philharmonic’s joint world premiere of Alan Williams’’ The Arsonists’. He was Music Director for Manchester International Festival 2017’s ‘One of Two Stories or Both’ a live broadcast radio drama which appeared on Unity Radio and BBC iPlayer.
Assistant Artistic Director, Adult Music Health Initiatives Lead, Conductor – Hucknall Daytime Voices, West Bridgford Daytime Voices, Nottingham Lunchtime Voices, Assistant Conductor – Nottingham Chamber Singers
Rachel was a founder member of the internationally successful a cappella ensemble Voces8 with whom she performed and toured extensively. She was also an active member of the London choral scene for 10 years, performing at the highest level with groups such as Tenebrae, London Voices, Howard Goodall’s Enchanted Voices, and the Eric Whitacre Singers. She has performed a wide range of repertoire, from the classical tradition to Hollywood movie scores, contemporary opera, and classical-pop crossover.
Rachel spent 5 years working in the USA as a soloist, choral singer, vocal coach and singing teacher, before returning to her homeland in 2020, starting her role with MfE and continuing her work as a vocal and choral animateur. She lives in West Bridgford with her husband, Henry and her two young children, George and Stella.
Conductor – Sherwood Open Voices
Victoria is a pianist, horn player, saxophonist and singer. She was educated at Clarendon College and went on to study music at Newcastle and Huddersfield Universities.
From 1995 to 2011, Victoria worked in education and was Director of Music, at St Mary’s RC High School, Chesterfield and Assistant Conductor of the Derbyshire Youth Chorale. During this time she toured Japan, Italy, Austria and America. She was the Musical Director of Cranwell Military Wives Choir until 2015 with whom she worked on the BBC’s Beechy Boys project.
Victoria was Musical Director for Radcliffe Male Voice Choir from June 2011 until 2016. In October 2016 the choir took part in the 25th London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where Victoria became the first female guest conductor to take to the podium in its 50 year history. Currently Victoria works with South Nottinghamshire’s Men’s Chorus, Lyrical soNGBirds and works for the Derbyshire Music Partnership. Victoria also performs semi-professionally with a small female choral group called Quadravox.
Leader – West Bridgford Open Voices
Pip has sung in a number of chamber choirs, performing in and around the Nottingham area. She has taught in Nottingham for over 35 years, rehearsing Senior School choirs and vocal ensembles. In the early days of Music for Everyone, Pip also worked with the under 18s on their weekend Choral Trust courses.
Accompanist – Wollaton Daytime Voices, Sherwood Daytime Voices, Nottingham Chamber Singers & Nottingham Festival Chorus
Angela graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, London in 1982, having studied piano, piano accompaniment and singing. After a Music PGCE year at the London Institute of Education, she spent several years teaching music to A-level, before concentrating on private piano and singing teaching, while her daughters were young.
Angela is now a freelance accompanist. She has been a singing member of MfE for over 30 years and a member of Nottingham Chamber Singers for nearly all of those years. She has also accompanied the chamber choir for more than 10 years. Angela is accompanist to MfE’s Nottingham Festival Chorus and plays for several of the Daytime Voices choirs too. She is also a member of St. Peter’s Church Choir, Nottingham.
Conductor – East Midlands & Nottingham Youth Bands, Bandwise
After starting her professional life as a metallurgical engineer, Claire read music at Nottingham University specialising in Renaissance and Baroque Music. On graduation she completed a dual PGCE in instrumental and classroom music teaching at the University of Central England, Birmingham. For the last 18 years she has taught music in local secondary schools, where she fosters a passion for instrumental study and performance.
As a trumpet player Claire has toured extensively with orchestras, wind bands, brass quintets and brass bands, and has played in some of the world’s finest venues, including Montserrat Basilica, the Belarus National Opera House, and Carnegie Hall in New York. She is currently lead trumpet of the Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra. Claire also has a wealth of conducting experience with both wind bands and brass bands at all ability levels and across the age spectrum. She also MDs an annual musical.
Claire is passionate about performance, education, and ensuring that generations of future musicians enjoy our rich cultural heritage.
Phil Houghton Conductor – Loughborough & Nottingham Daytime Orchestras
Phil is a freelance conductor, violist and violinist, and received his initial musical training in Leicestershire. After graduating from Trinity College of Music, London, he has had a varied career of playing, teaching and conducting in many styles and genres. He currently conducts LSU Classical in Loughborough, and the Bedworth Symphony Orchestra, and regularly works with other orchestras including The Stratford upon Avon Symphony Orchestra and The Charnwood Orchestra. He was also previously the conductor of the Leicestershire Schools Concert Orchestra.
Phil had his first conducting lessons as a teenager with Robert Mandell, in return for managing the library of his Melachrino Strings Orchestra! He has also had tuition from Peter Stark, who is Professor of Conducting at The Royal College of Music. Phil lives in South Leicestershire with his wife Rebecca and their 3 children.
Principal Guest Conductor
James was appointed as our Principal Guest Conductor in September 2009. Prizewinner in international conducting competitions, James Lowe’s work as Artistic Director of the Hallé Harmony Youth Orchestra featured in Orchestra United, a four-part documentary shown on Channel 4 last year. Lowe is Artistic Director of the New Bristol Sinfonia, Principal Conductor of the Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble, Principal Guest Conductor of Music for Everyone, and held the position of Associate Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Educated at the University of Edinburgh, Lowe continued his development as Benjamin Zander Conducting Fellow with the Boston Philharmonic, and has studied with leading conductors in master classes, including Jorma Panula, Neeme Järvi, with Valery Gergiev and with Bernard Haitink, who has recently invited him to work as his assistant with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam this May.
One of two prizewinners in the Tokyo International Competition for Conductors and special prize winner in the Jorma Panula International Competition, he has appeared in performance with the Osaka and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras, the Residentie Orkest Den Haag, the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, the New Japan Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, Scottish Ballet, the orchestra of Welsh National Opera and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, as well as working with numerous other ensembles in many European countries, South Africa and the USA.
In addition to Orchestra United, James Lowe will feature in The Interpreters, a German film following three young conductors. He lives in Edinburgh and Berlin.
Leader – Sherwood, Mansfield & Beeston Open Voices
Cliff graduated as a teacher in 1991 and taught in London and Notts for the next 20-something years! Music was always a big part of his younger life (playing trombone and euphonium in the Salvation Army) and his teaching life, seeing the establishment and development of choirs, bands and creative groups, which often performed works, songs and musicals that Cliff had composed.
Since 2012, he has been far more involved in music-making and composing than a full-time teaching career allowed. Cliff is currently involved with a number of choirs, sometimes composing, arranging, accompanying and leading their music making. He has also performed with an amateur choir in Paris at UNESCO and Notre-Dame.
Conductor – Sunday Afternoon Music Big Band
At the age of 6 Phil started to reach up and play notes on his parents piano. Keyboard lessons began, shortly followed by clarinet lessons at school.
Having gained his two grade 8’s and music A level Phil set of to music college and then teacher training. He moved to Nottingham in 1985 to become a woodwind teacher and a career that saw him be head of music in three Nottinghamshire schools followed by a Teaching Fellow at Warwick University. During that time he also became musical director of the Nottinghamshire Education Big Band (The Brassery) and founder and MD of Nottingham Youth Jazz Orchestra.
He also conducted many other ensembles for the authority and was the MD for the Nottingham Youth Theatre Company. He also conducts for the Nottingham based Music for Everyone .
Whether performing in local orchstras, theatre bands, singing in chamber choirs or conducting classical or jazz, Phil has been emersed in the music in the local area since moving here. Amongst his favourite performances must be an appearance on Blue Peter (yes he has the badge!) numerous gigs at the Edinburgh Festival as well of course as all those local concerts which keep us all enjoying music so much.
When not performing or conducting he can be found snowboarding down the Alps or pottering in his garden!
Leader – Beeston Open Voices
Helen has over 30 years experience leading interactive sing-along music sessions, catering for all ages from 6 months to 90 years, working in schools, nurseries, care homes and community groups. She is passionate about bringing the life-enhancing benefits of music to others, believing that music has the power to awaken hidden memories, ease physical and emotional distress, and generally improve everyone’s quality of life by bringing joy and positivity.
Conductor – Sherwood Daytime Voices
Gregory is Director of the Music for the Diocese of Nottingham currently directing the cathedral choirs and managing an expanding Schools singing programme in the Diocese of Nottingham aiming to expand the musical opportunities for the young people of our diocese.
He studied music at Canterbury Christ Church University where he held the Chapel Choir Conducting Scholarship for two years. During which time he received mentoring and tuition from Christopher Gower, David Flood, Patrick Russill and David Allinson. Alongside his study he was a deputy Lay Clerk for Canterbury Cathedral and graduated from CCCU with awards for highest degree, highest performance mark, and the Elizabeth Vogan Award for Singing.
He studied a Masters in English Church Music under Jonathan Wainwright at the University of York which he completed alongside a choral scholarship at Blackburn Cathedral. During this time, he specialised in English Catholic music of the 20th century, particularly the liturgical and musical influences of Sir Richard Runciman Terry and Dom Gregory Murray OSB.
Following his scholarship at Blackburn Gregory became a Choral Scholar at the beautiful Norwich Cathedral before taking up the post of the Director of Music in Nottingham.