meet the conductors
Find out more about our fantastic Youth Proms Conductors.
Saphran Ali – Birmingham Schools’ Brass Band
Saphran Ali began his musical journey when he started secondary school and encountered a ‘strange instrument’. After persistent ‘nagging’ he was allowed to take up lessons on this ‘strange instrument’, the Euphonium.
Saphran graduated with honours from Birmingham Conservatoire in 2010 and then undertook a PGCE as a Secondary music teacher. Saphran began teaching for Services For Education in 2013.
As well as working full time with SFE, Saphran is also a very active musician. He is currently Principal Euphonium of the Langley Band, Musical Director of the City of Birmingham Brass Band, Langley Community Brass and Birmingham Schools’ Brass Band. Further to this, Saphran likes to keep busy by helping orchestras and ensembles around the country, either conducting or playing Euphonium, Baritone Horn, Trombone or Bass Trumpet.
Away from music, Saphran enjoys playing snooker, travelling, and socialising with friends.
Saphran is so pleased that he now conducts the band he grew up in, sharing his knowledge and experiences with the students and the music service which gave him so much.
Charlotte Buxton – Deputy Head of Music Service and Head of Ensembles – Birmingham Schools’ Training Wind Orchestra
Charlotte began her musical journey with Nottinghamshire Arts Support Service where she progressed through their excellent ensembles system. From age 16 she studied clarinet under the expert guidance of Colin Courtney from 1998-2001 before gaining a scholarship to study under Hale Hambleton at Trinity College of Music from 2001-2005 where she also studied conducting with Gregory Rose and Peter Stark from 2003-2005. She began working for Bromley Youth Music Trust as a Licensed clarinet and saxophone teacher in 2003.
After graduating with a BMus(Hons) degree in 2005, Charlotte was appointed as a full-time member of staff at BYMT. Over 11 years Charlotte progressed through the ranks and ultimately held the post of Wider Opportunities Coordinator and Assistant Head of Woodwind for the borough. She was an active conductor working with bands, orchestras and jazz bands of all levels and toured extensively with Bromley Youth Concert Band including to the World Music Contest in Kerkrade where she was instrumental in steering them to a Platinum award. Alongside this, she was lucky enough to teach many young people to Diploma level before they continued their journey to higher education with many specialising in music.
Charlotte joined Services For Education in September 2014 as Head of Woodwind and enjoyed five years leading a vibrant department and teaching across the city. She was appointed Deputy Head of Music Service and Head of Ensembles in September 2019 and has since spearheaded exciting collaborations with international artists Nicola Benedetti and Jess Gillam whilst leading the ensemble system into the digital age to maintain provision throughout the pandemic. She was the inaugural recipient of the Music and Drama Education Awards Gold Star Award in March 2021 for ‘formidable impact and reach, with a remarkable ambition and vision’.
Nick Chamberlain – Birmingham Schools’ Guitar Ensemble
Nick studied classical guitar and composition at Birmingham Conservatoire. He combines teaching, performing and composition.
During his years with the Birmingham Music Service, he has given many workshops and presentations for teachers and students. Videos of his teaching are used for teacher training as part of the Reel Learning programme. He has directed three central ensembles, and each have been invited to the National stage of the Music For Youth Festival.
Nick writes and arranges music for all instrumental combinations. His choral piece, ‘From a Railway Carriage,’ was recorded and broadcast on ‘Performance on 3, BBC radio 3, as part of Sound and Music’s ‘Adopt-a-Composer’ scheme. His guitar tuition music and arrangements are frequently used by teachers and his ‘Songs and Dances’ for Classical Guitar received excellent reviews. His latest installation piece, ‘Moments of Nature in Music,’ combines recorded music and video. It was exhibited in June for 3 weeks at the Hive Gallery.
Dianne Charles – Birmingham Schools’ Recorder Ensemble
Dianne Charles studied Music at Royal Holloway College before going on to the Royal College of Music with Recorder as her first study. After several years of teaching and playing in London and Surrey, she moved back to Birmingham and embarked on a new career in IT. She continued to play and teach in her spare time, finally returning to a full-time career in Music in 2010.
As well as conducting BSRE, she has conducted several choirs and currently teaches piano, recorder and singing. She sings with the chorus of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and is the Administrator of the National Youth Recorder Orchestras GB.
Sarah Chatt – Birmingham Schools’ Training Percussion Ensemble
Sarah studied music at Birmingham Conservatoire and in New York, gaining an undergraduate and a Masters degree. She has been teaching percussion for Services For Education (formerly Birmingham Music Service) since 1999 and has been Assistant to the Head of Ensembles for the last 8 years. Sarah set up the Birmingham Schools’ Training Percussion Ensemble after identifying a need for an ensemble to develop the specific musical and technical requirements of young percussionists. She is incredibly proud of the way the ensemble has progressed.
When not teaching or assisting with ensembles, Sarah maintains a busy freelance performing career, appearing regularly with The Royal Shakespeare Company, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and many of the leading baroque period practice ensembles.
Paul Douglas – Birmingham Schools’ Jazz Ensemble
Paul Douglas joined the Music Service in 2006 as a Brass, Piano and Keyboard Teacher, and was SFE’s Head of Ensembles from 2014-19. Before joining the service, Paul was involved in live performances and songwriting collaborations all over Europe and the USA, as well as various studio recordings and music projects.
He has had a number of music books and arrangements published, the latest of which is ‘Famous Hymns and Marches’ (published by Warwick Music 2022) for beginner and intermediate brass players.
Paul’s current role in SFE is Deputy Head of Music Service and Head of Music School.
Jamie Fekete – Birmingham Schools’ Guitar Sinfonia
Since completing his degree at the University of Birmingham in English Literature and Philosophy, Jamie has composed and toured extensively with TG Collective and The Destroyers appearing at concert venues and music festivals across the UK and in Europe, highlights being numerous Glastonbury appearances. He also worked as principal guitarist for the RSC and has a background in flamenco guitar, being a flamenco dance accompanist for many years.
More recently he has focussed on composition and has written music for labels such as EMI, BMG, and others. Jamie has taught guitar playing for over twenty years and has directed and composed for the Sinfonia since 2017.
Peter Fisher – Birmingham Schools’ Concert Band
Pete has worked with BSCB since 2002 starting as Trumpet Tutor, then as Conductor from 2009. He has been lucky enough to have worked with the ensembles department at all levels, Brass Attack, one of the entry level Ensembles and up to Symphony Orchestra as a Tutor. Performing has always been Pete’s real passion and he takes great pleasure in watching and hearing the young players develop as they move through the various ensemble levels.
Prior to life with SFE he was a Trumpet player fortunate to have many fantastic performing opportunities, regular engagements with the CBSO and most regional orchestras. A couple of highlights would be the World Circus in West Berlin 1979 and a regular slot on Tiswas the manic Saturday morning TV programme. This was followed by 20 happy years with The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon and on tour around the world which kept him busy.
Wioletta Francis – Birmingham Schools’ Secondary Choir
Wioletta was born and brought up in Poland, where she studied music at the Music School from the age of 6. She played piano for the first 7 years and moved on to play bassoon for the next 3. After A levels she studied Music Education at the University in Olsztyn and she finished it in 2003 with Master Degree.
Throughout her whole life she sung in choirs, bands and small vocal groups and was taking part in vocal and choral competition and festivals around the world. Since singing was her biggest passion throughout life, she decided to gain some formal knowledge in it and after Masters she studied Voice Production at the Bydgoszcz Conservatoire. In 2006 she moved to England and was lucky to join Birmingham Music Service Vocal department in 2010.
Adam Hickman – Birmingham Schools’ Training Guitar Ensemble
Adam graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (formerly Birmingham Conservatoire) in 2008 with a BMus (Hons) degree, where he studied classical guitar with Mark Ashford and Mark Eden. Upon graduation, Adam completed a PGCE in Primary Education at Birmingham City University and has since worked as a peripatetic music teacher. He is currently Deputy Head of Music Service at Services For Education.
In the past, Adam has worked as an External Examiner at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and coordinated and lectured on music education modules at both Birmingham City University and The University of Birmingham.
In June 2019, Adam was awarded Honorary Membership of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in recognition for his work in music education. Adam is also active as a conductor and ensemble director through his work with the Birmingham Schools’ Training Guitar Ensemble and the National Youth Guitar Ensemble.
Michelle Holloway – Birmingham Schools’ Recorder Sinfonia
Michelle Holloway studied recorders at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating in 2010 with a First-Class Honours degree, and now has an active performing career. She has played live on BBC Radio 3, at the Bridgewater Hall, Cadogan Hall, St Martin in the Fields amongst others, and also toured Europe and Egypt. She is equally happy in muddy festival fields where she can often be found with her fun and fiery folk band Bonfire Radicals.
Michelle is a keen advocate for the recorder and has developed an expansive teaching portfolio. She has conducted BSRS since 2011 and is a conductor for the National Youth Recorder Orchestra, two adult recorder orchestras, and on staff for multiple summer schools. She has conducted BSRS at the Royal Albert Hall, and in tours across Italy and the Czech Republic.
Michelle is currently studying for a Masters in Music at the University of Birmingham, where she is exploring recorder music by female composers.
Bethan Jones – Birmingham Schools’ Percussion Ensemble
Bethan is the Assistant Head of the Percussion and World Music department at Services For Education. She began working for SFE during her undergraduate studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, firstly as a drum kit and percussion teacher. Over the following years she has added many other responsibilities to her role, including conductor of the Birmingham Schools’ Percussion Ensemble and tutor for both the Birmingham Schools’ Wind Orchestra and Training Percussion Ensemble.
Bethan also works as a freelance percussionist playing with various ensembles around the UK, specialising in orchestral and choral ensemble music, with a particular interest in contemporary classical music.
Tom Lenthall – Birmingham Schools’ Secondary Choir
Tom Lenthall began his choral training as senior chorister at Grimsby Minster. From there he studied composition at The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, whilst actively participating in vocal groups and ensembles including CBSO chorus. Upon graduating Tom formed a folk/indie group that has performed in various festivals.
He joined SFE in 2012 and has worked as a conductor and choral animateur with many primary and secondary choirs performing both in Birmingham and around the country. Alongside working for SFE Tom is a session musician specialising in piano, synth and vocals.
Stephon Phillip – Birmingham Schools’ Steel Band
Stephon Phillip has been the conductor/ arranger/ teacher of the Birmingham Schools’ Steel Band since 1993. He has worked with the Birmingham Music Service and SFE for over thirty years. Stephon has spent most of his life teaching, but apart from that, he also runs his own steel band, which has been going for over forty years.
Stephon has often visited the “mecca” of steel pan, Trinidad, and has played in the Panorama Competition with BP Renegades, which includes five wins and more recently Caribbean Airline Skiffle.
Daniele Rosina – Birmingham Schools’ Symphony Orchestra
Daniele Rosina is a UK-based conductor who has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious music festivals including the Beijing Modern Music Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival and the BBC Proms. In the theatre he has worked as assistant conductor for San Francisco Ballet both in the United States and on tour at the Edinburgh International Festival with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Described as “one of the most gifted and exciting young conductors around” (Birmingham Post) and his performances as having “lilt, sensitivity, flexible space for the music to breathe” and “a real sense of cataclysm” (midlandsmusicreviews.com), Daniele is renowned for his insightful conducting and innovative programming.
Daniele is resident conductor and principal conducting tutor at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He regularly leads the RBC’s ensembles and orchestras in concerts and tours across the UK, Europe and Asia. He is principal conductor of the Junior RBC Symphony Orchestra and is currently Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Birmingham. Daniele studied conducting at Birmingham Conservatoire with Edwin Roxburgh. He has reached the final stages of prestigious competitions including the Leeds Conductors Competition and the LSO Donatella Flick Conducting Competition and has participated in masterclasses with Colin Metters and Pierre Boulez. He assisted Mirga Gražinytè-Tyla with the Royal Gala opening of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Kirsteen Scott – Birmingham Schools’ Junior String Orchestra
Kirsteen has been working with young musicians in Birmingham for over 30 years after completing a four-year course at the Birmingham School of Music, now known as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
In that time, she has had the pleasure of teaching both violin and viola across the city, leading workshops, coaching chamber groups, writing and arranging music in addition to a wide range of professional playing commitments.
Kirsteen says; “Conducting Junior Strings is a highlight of my week as I truly believe that the skills the members of the orchestra gain from working together musically and the friendships formed between children from varied backgrounds encourage commitment to their individual instruments and help create more confident young musicians who will go on to appreciate the importance of music throughout their lives.”
Harjit Singh – Birmingham Schools’ Azaad Dhol Group.
Harjit is a specialist in Music Education and has been for over 35 years, his work also involves working in the community with various music projects. He was part of the pioneering and famous Bhangra Band of the 80’s and 90’s called Azaad from Wolverhampton and played Indian percussion with the band. His mission is to make Indian drumming classical and folk genre accessible to a wider audience, and to see people from all cultures playing Indian drums in schools and the community.
Harjit Singh-Has worked in Music Education for the last 35 years teaching traditional Indian Music, mainly Folk Music of Punjab “Lok Virsa”. My teaching role mainly is working in mainstream education and with the community, I have been with the Music Service in Birmingham since 1994.
David Taylor – Birmingham Schools’ Brass Attack
Having been brought up in the Salvation Army, David came to study euphonium at Birmingham Conservatoire in 2005 under the teaching of David Childs. During his studies, he won many prizes and scholarships including the Ludlow Philharmonic Concerto Prize, Countess of Munster Scholarship and a Silver Medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Since graduating, David has continued to perform as an ensemble member and soloist at such venues as the Symphony Hall, Cadogan Hall and the Great American Brass Band Festival in Kentucky, USA.
Alongside David’s performing, he is also a highly skilled teacher, having gained teacher status as a primary school teacher and then teaching brass for different authorities across the West Midlands. David was appointed Head of Brass within Services For Education in 2016 and leads a department of twenty teachers across the city to deliver high standard brass teaching.
Bob Vivian – Birmingham Schools’ Concert Orchestra
Bob studied trumpet for three years at the Birmingham School of Music now the (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) with David Haines, Alan Whitehead (Principal Trumpet – CBSO and Ray Farr (BBC Radio Big Band). This was followed by a year at Teacher Training College, after which he began teaching for the Birmingham Music Service in September 1973. He continued studying trumpet in London with John Wilbraham (Principal Trumpet – BBC Symphony Orchestra), James Watson (Head of Brass, Royal Academy of Music) and Philip Jones (Head of Brass, Guildhall School of Music and Drama).
Whilst at the Birmingham Music Service (BMS) Bob became Head of Brass, then Ensembles Director and an Advanced Skills Teacher.
After working with the Birmingham Schools’ Training Orchestra as the brass specialist since 1975, the orchestra was renamed the Birmingham Schools’ Concert Orchestra in 1980. In 1984, Bob took over the conductorship of BSCO.
With BSCO he has toured to Switzerland, Norway and Munich as well as annual residential courses in Denbigh, North Wales. Following auditions with Music for Youth the orchestra was invited to perform on the last night Schools’ Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, five times.
Guest artistes invited by Bob to work with BSCO have included Sir Simon Rattle, John Wallace, Gordon Langford, Crispian Steele-Perkins, the King’s Singers and the late Ron Goodwin who was the orchestra’s Patron. The orchestra’s new Patron is the conductor, John Wilson, who has guest-conducted with the orchestra.
As well as playing trumpet for many Musical Theatre Companies in the Midlands, including the Alexandra and Hippodrome Theatres, freelancing with orchestras, including the CBSO under Simon Rattle, and various Opera Companies, Bob played regularly at the “Night Out” Club in Birmingham and accompanied such artistes as: “The Three Degrees and Diana Ross and the Supremes.
Bob also conducts local amateur and professional groups in the Midlands, including regular performances with The Royal Sutton Coldfield Orchestra, including an annual Young Soloists’ Concerts which support and develop young musical talent. He recently spent 6 weeks working with a group in The Sage Gateshead. The performance (due to Covid regulations) was attended by a socially distanced audience as well as being live streamed, which was favourably received by The Barbican Centre in London.
Sandra Passmore – Former Adviser, Services For Education
Sandra has extensive experience in safeguarding, health and wellbeing and evidence based practice. She has worked nationally with key government departments (Departments of Health and Education) to help shape strategy and policy whilst still retaining the focus on working for the best outcomes for children and young people.
She has a PhD on the psychology of health related choices which has informed the development of award winning, evidence based programmes such as Health for Life in primary schools and Health for Life in nursery schools which have been proven to have a sustainable impact on improving the health and wellbeing of children and families.
Sandra led the development and delivery of the DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead) training for SFE. She was pivotal in expanding the remit of the safeguarding work to also include issues such as domestic abuse and sexual violence and harassment within the education context.
Sandra’s passion for improving the lives of children has led her to develop work within Public Health and managed RCT (Randomised Control Trials) on the effectiveness of interventions such as the daily mile. Additionally, Sandra has written books for teachers and pupils as well as peer reviewed academic journal papers.