About the Association
The Association Council
The current Council comprises:
Craig Lees (President), Richard Edgar-Wilson (Treasurer), Jonathan Fishman, Louise Gibbs (President-Elect), Yakubu Karagama, Geraldine McElearney, Paul McKenna, Jane Oakshott, Nikolaos Spantideas, Sarah Wright-Owens.
Acting company secretary: Kristine Carroll-Porczynski
Craig Lees BA(hons), MA(dist)
Craig is a contemporary vocal coach, choir director and arranger. He is a senior lecturer on the Popular Music degree at Leeds College of Music and founded the LCoM Contemporary Pop Choir in 2014. Craig also holds the post of 'Musician in Residence' for the West Yorkshire Playhouse program for young people where he directs the "Living Vocally" choir and facilitates several other community based projects. He has delivered projects for leading voice technology manufacturer TC-Helicon, 'Mind The Gap' theatre company (England's largest learning disability theatre house) and many other independent organisations. In 2016, Craig assisted on a collaborative music project with the internationally-acclaimed artist, Marc Almond. He is a regular contributor to "Voice Council Magazine” and was recently awarded the "Sing For Pleasure" Young Conductor’s Scholarship. He has presented at international conferences and delivered choral workshops throughout the UK.
For over 30 years Richard has been a tenor soloist in classical music. He has made more than 100 recordings and appeared in over 35 countries at venues such as La Scala, ENO, La Monnaie, the Wigmore Hall, the Palais Garnier and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. As both a singer and voice teacher he recognises the importance of the multi-disciplinary approach of the British Voice Association in ensuring good physical and emotional vocal health. In his teaching practice he integrates a physiological understanding to inform his work with singers at varying stages of development. Current students include professional soloists, conservatoire students, school-aged children as well as singers at King's College, Cambridge and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. Richard has lectured on research techniques at the University of London (Birkbeck College) and has written book chapters, reviews and reports for among others, the journals of both AOTOS and the BVA.
Jonathan Fishman BM BCh (Oxon), MA (Cantab), PhD, FRCS (ORL-HNS)
Jonathan is an ENT Consultant and Laryngologist at the Royal National Throat, Nose & Ear Hospital, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Clinical Lecturer at University College London. He is passionate about treating conditions of the larynx. He was awarded a PhD in 2013 for his research. He has received numerous awards, grants, prizes and research fellowships and has published widely in the field of laryngology. He has lectured both nationally and internationally and has organised and chaired sessions at National, European and International meetings pertaining to laryngology. He is Senior Editor for the Journal of Laryngology & Otology.
Louise Gibbs LTCL, MA, MEd, FHEA
Louise Gibbs is a jazz singer, composer and educator, and graduate of Columbia University, New York. She has taught and given workshops on jazz performance, improvisation and voice at every major conservatoire and many universities in the UK. She currently teaches singing for the Universities of Leeds, Hull, Chester and Sheffield, and is a specialist examiner for the RNCM and RAM. She previously held course-leading roles at Leeds College of Music (Postgraduate and Jazz Programmes) and Goldsmiths, University of London (Adult and Professional: Music), GSMD, and RCM. She has active research interests in voice, pedagogy, improvisation and musical aesthetics. Louise continues to compose, perform and has recorded five acclaimed albums, the most recent being Seven Deadly Sings for voice and septet (2014). Her past Board membership includes Warden (Education) for the ISM, Jazz Services, Jazz Yorkshire, and Jazz North. Louise is a keen gardener, allotment-holder and sourdough bread baker.
Yakubu Karagama MBBS, FRCS (ORL-HN)
I am a laryngologist and I lead the voice clinic at Manchester University Hospital Trust for the last 10 years. I am also an Honorary lecturer at the Northern Royal College of Music Manchester. I have been an active member of the British Voice Association for over 10 years and have contributed several times to the educational activities as an invited guest and chaired sessions during BVA conference. I am passionate about training and education in the field of voice as shown by the courses I have organised yearly at Manchester Phonosurgery course. Details can be found on the course website www.phonosurgerycourse.com. I would like to further help strengthen the interdisciplinary team work at the BVA as I believe this will be for the benefit of people with voice disorders most especially those who rely on their voice not only socially but professionally too.
Geraldine McElearney MA
After a 20-plus year career elsewhere, returning to the world of voice in 2013 to work as a singing teacher was a huge, unexpected delight. I'd reluctantly abandoned singing after college (GSMD), where my voice had become beset with problems. Now I'm building a new career working with singers of all ages privately, and as a school peripatetic. The years following (post-) graduation were spent in theatre front-of-house, arts publishing and advertising, marketing communications, and design, including 10 years in central government. I gained an MA in Design & Brand Strategy, researching alliances between commercial and arts organisations. The British Voice Association has been invaluable in helping me retrain, and enabled much personal insight, with its holistic, multi-disciplinary ethos. I'm especially interested in the 'whole' singer, and the support/interventions available to student singers when things go off-track. I am committed to ongoing learning and CPD as both teacher and performer.
Paul John McKenna
Paul John McKenna is a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) working in Clinical Voice Disorders and Singing Voice Rehabilitation at Wythenshawe Hospital (NHS) in South Manchester and also privately. Paul co-runs weekly professional voice users assessment clinics, where high level voice users are assessed endoscopically and then rehabilitated via highly individualised voice therapy. Paul is a certified Neuro-linguistic Programming practitioner (NLP) with a background in Hypnotherapy, skills which have driven his interest in the psychological factors impacting on the voice. He aims to continue developing in these fields over the coming years with the hope of providing new insights that can further assist performers in their recoveries and in the mastery of their voice use.
Prior to retraining as an SLT, Paul worked as a gigging musician for a number of years, as both a singer and guitarist. This musical background has been the catalyst for focusing his career towards assisting high level performers in their vocal recovery. Enjoying speaking publicly on vocal care, Paul also provides bespoke workshops for performing arts establishments in the North of England, educating students on vocal health.
Jane Oakshott MBE, BA, MA LAMDA (Gold)
I work for the three Universities in Leeds and in private practice with a wide range of professional voice users. My particular interest is the transformative power of voice in everyday life. My first academic job was setting up and running the Drama Department at Otago University, New Zealand, involving town and gown communities in performances, and instituting the country’s first course in Radio Drama. I was appointed MBE in 2008 for re-introducing and directing large-scale medieval street performances of Mystery Plays with community groups (Leeds, Wakefield, Chester, York 1975-1998). I set up my coaching business in 1992; Tri Literati (performance company) in 2003: and with a Speech Therapist colleague, Leeds Voice Days, in 2008. All ongoing.
Dr Nikolaos Spantideas
Nikos Spantideas started his career as a speech therapist. Having completed his speech therapy degree in Patras, Greece, and an MSc in Voice Pathology at University College London, he returned to Greece where he worked as a specialised speech therapist, while he completed his Medical Degree and his PhD which he got awarded in 2013 by the University of Ioannina. He returned to London for his ENT training. Currently, he is an ENT registrar at the London North West Healthcare NHS trust. He has served as elected vice president of the Association of Scientists of Speech Therapy of Greece for six consecutive years (2008-2013) and board Member (2013-2017). Currently, he is head of the Voice Disorders Special Interest Group of the same association. He has published several voice related articles in peer reviewed journals and is interested in research and teaching.
Sarah Wright-Owens BSc (hons), SLT, GBSM
Sarah works as a Vocal Rehabilitation Coach and Singing Teacher in private practice. She is registered with the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine and is the Vocal Consultant at the Professional Voice Users Clinic for the University Hospital, Birmingham. She is a visiting lecturer at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and University of Birmingham. Sarah is currently researching vocal rehabilitation and vocal pedagogy with a particular focus on singers and singing teachers speaking voice, the science of vocal exercise and tension release. She runs a Singing for Lung Health group supported by the British Lung Foundation.