"Music is the universal language of mankind."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Chairman : Nicky Murdoch
Nicky served in the British Army for 30 years with her final tour at the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall. Her interest in Music was developed at school and has remained ever since. She has lived in Farnham since 1985 when she joined Farnham Operatic Society taking principal roles, mostly singing in the chorus, acting as production manager and taking on the role of Chairman; the first women elected to the role. Since leaving the Army Nicky has been a Programme Manager with a Youth Education charity. After this she was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the St John and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service, a charity that provides welfare support to the Armed Forces Community when they are in hospital. She is delighted to be taking on the role with the Farnham Festival having known the founders Alan Fluck and Raymond Krish personally.
Composer in Residence : Melanie Thorne
Melanie is a gifted instrumentalist on flute, piano, clarinet and saxophone. She is also a composer of music for young people and a very successful arranger of established works for young musicians. She worked as a Director of Music in a school in Surrey for many years as well as teaching piano and wind instruments. Having moved to Scotland Mel continues as an instrumental instructor, arranger and composer. Her experience as a teacher and performer has given her the ability to produce publications that particularly suit the individual instruments, and explore the expressive qualities of the ensembles.
She is also a senior examiner for OCR AS Level Music in Composition and also examines the practical units for OCR A Level Music. She travels extensively as an examiner for Trinity College of Music.
Artistic Director : Lizzie Kirk
Lizzie is a professional musician who teaches clarinet and saxophone in the Farnham area. She has also been the Musical Director of Junior Farnham Operatic Society and is the Conductor of the Farnham Festival Players who are performing in this year’s festival. Lizzie is passionate about musical education and the value it brings to people. Her husband and both sons are very musical and Lizzie sings with Luminosa, a chamber choir which performs all types of music across Surrey and Hampshire.
Music Coordinator: Katie Marshall -
Katie is a music graduate from the University of Warwick and a primary school teacher and music specialist teaching at St Peter’s School in Wrecclesham. She has also turned her hand to the technical aspects of supporting musical theatre and performance where she has assisted husband Tony with performance by FAOS Musical Theatre Group.
Treasurer : Jo Blagden
Jo Blagden has lived in Farnham all her life. She has also had a life-long interest in music having sung in the Chase Manhattan Plaza aged 16. She has been a leading lady in Operatic Societies in Haslemere, Grayshott and Farnham for more years than she cares to remember! She has also more recently sung with the Holybourne Singers. Professionally Jo works as a Bursar at St John’s Infants School in Churt which gives her lots of time to spend with spreadsheets and budgets! Jo recently raised more than £2000 for charity by completing her first parachute jump. She also cycled in the Palace to Palace cycle ride between Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. Jo has three very musical children who continue to perform and is delighted to be acting as a treasurer in the Farnham Festival as music has been such a feature of all the families’ lives.
Secretary : Sarah Hawkins
Sarah was born in Mauritius and spent the first decade of her life living in various locations in the UK and Europe before settling down to life in Surrey in 1975. She qualified as a PE teacher from Bedford PE College and worked in the financial services industry before moving with her husband and three children to Farnham in 2001. Her daughters have sung with the Farnham Youth Training and Girls Choirs and the Farnham Teen Rock Choir. She worked until recently at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham and sings in the Godalming & Guildford Jazz Choirs.
Operations Manager: Alexandra Boughton
Apart from three years at university and a spell in Australia, Alex has lived in Farnham her whole life. She has been actively involved in music and theatre from a young age, taking part in productions and concerts with several local societies. Alex has a BA in Drama Studies, an MA in Arts Policy and Management and has worked for several Arts organisations. She was the Venue Administrator at G Live, in Guildford for 3 years and is now working for the Ambassador Theatre Group where she is responsible for programming in the Groups provincial theatres across the UK
Publicity & Marketing Manager: Bridie Christie
Bridie has been a resident of Farnham for 18 years, having previously lived and worked in London. She studied Business Administration at the University of Bath and pursued a career in Marketing and Sales Promotion before raising her 3 children. She has always been passionate about music and studied music at school, learning to play both the piano and clarinet from a young age. Over the past few years Bridie has worked as a freelancer, helping a local online business with their marketing activities. She has also been involved in organising 3 local charity pantomimes, raising money for the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. Not only did she co-ordinate the marketing and publicity for these events, she sang and performed in them too, with her childhood dream coming true by starring as Snow White!
Grants & Income Generation: Jane Barker Benfield
After stage management training at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama Jane’s introduction to theatrical employment was working in the semi-dark conditions of the stage-side costume quick change area at the Old Vic – most actors went on stage in the correct costume most of the time but the less said about that the better! After several years as Deputy Stage Manager at the Churchill Theatre and Salisbury Playhouse Jane worked in studio floor management at BBC Television Centre and was fortunate enough to be involved in the production of, (showing her age here), many iconic 80’s shows – Blankety Blank, Top of The Pops and Crackerjack to name but a few. Keen to move out of London Jane relocated to Farnham and with that came a career change in event organisation. She is a member of FAOS Musical Theatre Group and although preferring to help backstage has been known to tread the boards – her performance as a singing nun is legendary!
Technical Director: Tony Marshall
Tony studied electronic engineering at the University of Warwick. His technical skills are in much demand and he has been the Technical Manager of FAOS Musical theatre group in Farnham for many years. He works as a technical architect for the Oracle Corporation and in what spare time he has he runs a cub pack in Farnham and is a qualified Day Skipper who sails whenever he can. Tony and his wife Katie have two young children who are both at local schools and who are showing musical and technical promise.
Technical Advisor: Rob Stembridge
Rob is a graduate from the University of Plymouth where he studied broadcasting at Falmouth. He has worked in theatre and stage and was the technical lead at the Ben Travers theatre at Charterhouse in Godalming. He has worked as a technical manager for many local operatic and musical theatre groups where his wife Danni takes many leading roles. In his spare time he enjoys squash and snowboarding.
Front of House Manager: Kathy Barber
Kathy is a Special Educational Needs teacher who is also a dyslexia assessor. She has lived in the Guildford and Farnham area for many years and has been involved on stage as a performer and dancer and back stage as Stage Manager in operatic and musical productions. She is passionate about music, education and learning and ensuring young people realise their full potential. She sings with the Luminosa choir.
The committee is formed of volunteering professionals from all walks of life, who all share an indisputable passion for spreading the joy of live music to young people.
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