OUR STAFF AND COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Musical Director Gemma Marshall
Gemma has been involved in music for as long as she can remember. Having played the piano since childhood, Gemma went on to train in Music Theatre at Breton Hall, University of Leeds, during which time she took on the role of Assistant Musical Director for many of the Musical Theatre Society’s productions, accompanying for rehearsals and playing in the orchestra pit for performances.
Upon graduation, Gemma moved to London to pursue a career in arts administration and worked as a freelance accompanist and orchestra pit player with Songtime Theatre Arts. In 2009 she returned to the Midlands to study towards a PGCE Secondary Music and taught in several secondary and primary schools across the region. Gemma decided to leave the teaching profession a few years ago to start a family and now balances working life with bringing up her young children.
In addition to her role as Musical Director for Sonara Singers, Gemma is also the Principal Accompanist for Eastwood Collieries Male Voice Choir and Ashfield Harmony and works as a freelance organist across the county.
Gemma’sfirst rehearsal with Sonara Singers was on May 13th 2019 , and she looks forward to many more!
Accompanyist Teresa Mills (LCTL ALCM)
Teresa is a long standing member of the choir. A local girl, she began playing the piano at the age of 9, inspired by the beautiful sounds and not least by watching Liberace on TV every Sunday night!
She won many prizes in the Nottingham and Beeston music festivals, gaining her diploma in piano teaching under the guidance of Brenda May and Sylvia Bowden.
Her accompanying career began whilst studying A Level music, when she was always in demand from her fellow students.
She joined the Alfreton Ladies Choir in 1981, where her professionalism and dedication is much appreciated by all members of the choir.
Chair - Anne Eaton
Anne joined the choir early in 2012 after her retirement from the NHS, where she held a variety of roles, ranging from student nurse in 1971 through to senior management in 2011. After talking with her daughter who sang in a choir in the north east, Anne decided to look for a local choir who did not audition new members, and Sonara Singers came out top of the list.
She thoroughly enjoys singing and thought she could put some of her skills to use, so began to help with various roles in the choir committee including Membership Secretary and Vice Chair.
In March 2019 Anne put herself forward to stand as Chair and was duly supported by choir members.
Anne knows there are exciting times ahead for the choir, and relishes the idea of working with a new committee and new Musical Director, and taking Sonara Singers forward over the next two years.
Assistant Conductor, Vice Chair and Alto Representative - Helen Beresford
Helen first started singing at the age of 5 going on to attain her Grade 7 in voice whilst studying at South East Derbyshire College. She has always been involved with local school choirs and musical theatre groups including singing with the Gateway Theatre Company until it dissolved in 1990.
A loyal member of the choir, she supports the Musical Director in the day-to-day rehearsing of the choir.
Secretary – Dee Hill
I have been singing for more years than I care to name, and joined Alfreton Ladies Choir when I moved to Derbyshire in 2002. Work commitments forced me to take a ‘sojourn’, but as soon as I retired I returned to a lovely welcome from friends, old and new. To become Secretary was unexpected (!) but I’m enjoying putting back into the choir the support that I have received. As well as Sonara Singers, I perform with Tinderbox and, most recently, I’ve been singing for weddings ... and funerals. As if that’s not enough, I have three allotments and two (large) dogs, volunteer for Derbyshire Army Benevolent Fund and I’m Treasurer for Derbyshire Dales SSAFA. How did I hold down a full time job? But music is always the foundation of my life and coming back to Sonara Singers has been a joy!
Treasurer - Pam Cox
Pam works for Lloyds Bank but still finds time for singing. She sings with a small village choir but found this wasn’t enough to full-fill her need for singing.
In 2011 she contacted Liz Moulder who was Musical Director at that time and decided this could be the choir for her, although a little nervous at her first attendance, she joined the choir and now enjoys raising money for local charities through her love of singing.
Pam accepted the role of Choir Treasurer in 2019 and is looking forward to what the future holds over the coming years.
Events Secretary - Jennifer Howe
Jennifer first sang with the choir upon return to the area after completing a Performing Arts Honours Degree which focused on vocal music. Having sung with and subsequently directed singing groups, Jennifer returned to Sonara Singers a number of years later enjoying the breadth of the pieces being performed and the camaraderie of the group. A desire to help moving the choir forward led to Jennifer taking on the role of Events Secretary to assist in ensuring the style and skill of the choir continues to grow and be appreciated by our audiences.
Membership Secretary – Jacqui MilesI first started to really enjoy singing when I joined Brewood Convent School Choir. Every year we competed at Wolverhampton Civic Centre and came first on a couple of occasions.Many years passed as I was bringing up my beautiful family who now have children of their own.Seventeen years ago I moved to Derby where I met some wonderful people including Valerie Miles who was the accompanist for The Alfreton Singers. Val asked me to join the choir where I met another lovely lady whom I greatly admire - Jennifer Howe. Jennifer believed in my ability to sing and have fun.In 2018, I was very fortunate to join Sonara Singers and sing under the direction of Liz Moulder and where I was taken into the family fold. It feels like I have known the choir members for years. I nominated myself to take on the role of Membership Secretary this year and look forward to working with the committee and embrace the style of Gemma Marshall our new Musical Director.
Middle Representative - Irene Brown
I have been an infant school teacher for 35 years. Since retiring from teaching in 2012, I have run Joe Brown Contractors Ltd, a Tarmac surfacing and civil engineering company which I inherited from my husband Joe.
I have loved music all my life, mostly as an instrumentalist, from being in a school recorder orchestra at seven years old, to playing clarinet in the school, college and Alfreton Light Orchestras. I joined the Sonara Singers five years ago to continue and develop my love of singing, and am now enjoying taking a more active role within the choir.
Soprano Representative - Holly Walker-Riggott
Holly is one of the younger choir members in her mid 30’s. Holly joined the choir about three years ago after a long break from singing. Holly learnt to sing at secondary school, as well as play the clarinet, being in the school choir as well as a local choir based in Winster. Holly joined Chesterfield Philharmonic Choir some years after school, but was forced to take a break due to having two wonderful children. Holly was introduced to Sonara Singers by her mum. After attending one of Sonara Singers Christmas Soirees, Holly decided this was the choir to join! It is true that singing improves your mental health, morale and confidence. Come and see for yourself.