Biography

Em works with professionals, amateurs, individuals and groups of all sizes, ages and abilities, from all backgrounds and across all sectors.  Her quest, using elements of theatre, music, voice, mindfulness and performance, is to bring learning, presence and joy to the search for personal liberation.

Em can help anyone who wants to develop their creativity, explore their voice, communicate more effectively or develop their leadership.

With a background in street theatre, straight theatre, music, circus and clowning Em has a Drama degree (2:1) from Hull University, and trained at Fool Time, the UK’s first circus school in Bristol in 1988, where she co-devised and led its children’s workshop programme. She later toured with Snapdragon Circus before moving north and focusing on voice, singing jazz and playing in bands.

Em trained with a variety of singers and vocal explorers; from classical singing  to the ‘total’ approach of Czech singer  Ida Kelarova via the inspiring Helen Chadwick, Venice Manley, Frankie Armstrong and Cicely Berry as well voice/theatre improviser Guy Dartnell, She still sings with The Ruby Larks.

Em founded and led three community choirs Ellacapella, ‘York’s first female blues choir’, 1990-’95,  Voicebox 2000-’07, and Helmsley Community Choir, 2011- 16, and has also led Global Voices for Stephen Joseph Theatre  2010 -11, the Chorus for Opera North’s 2010 Bridlington project, and was the first conductor of Hull Freedom Chorus, for Hull City Arts, with whom she enjoys a regular ongoing connection. She has led this massed group of singers performing new pieces in unusual venues at every Freedom Festival since 2011; she performed with them at Hull Jazz 2018, and conducted the Freedom Chorus at the launch of 2017 UK City of Culture with a 150-strong performance  of Caravan of Love

From 2000 Em was founder director of the inclusive Ryedale Festival Community Opera, which produced mainly new operas annually for 14 years and reached many thousands of people.  She continues to work as chorus leader with pioneering teams creating new participant-led performances in diverse communities and Calderland, produced by 509 Arts, won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Learning & Participation in 2017. Em led the singers and co-directed the 1940s punk-pop circus opera Back to Bransholme produced by Back to Ours, performed in the car park of North Point Shopping Centre on the Bransholme estate, Hull, in October 2019.

Em’s educational work has included numerous projects in schools as well as voice and performance projects for Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse, York Theatre Royal, Leeds College of Music, University of York, York St John’s University, Youth Music, Yorkshire Young Musicians, Music Leader and Trinity Guildhall.

From 2003-2011 Em worked extensively for Sage Gateshead as vocal animateur, community performance director and trainer/co-manager of the pioneering Vocal Union programme. She was part of the team bringing new ideas and approaches to workforce development, which led to her developing and leading training for teachers and singing leaders, and advising regional ‘Vocal Force’ groups, across the UK for Sing Up.

With regular appearances at music education conferences across the UK, Em offers workshops in creative approaches to singing, songwriting and vocal health.

While specialising in large-scale community performance she also directs professional theatre. Sheworked with Angus & Ross Theatre Company directing three of their touring shows 2009 – 2012 and directed Wind in the Willows for Ryedale Festival in 2018.

Em was Artistic Director at Helmsley Arts Centre from 2011 – 2016.

As Associate Director with The Map Consortium she continues to work as a creative facilitator. 

Underpass

Em’s piece Underpass, performed by Hull Freedom Chorus at Freedom Festival 2016