About the Association
The Association Council
The current Council comprises:
Geraldine McElearney (President), Rehab Awad (Treasurer), Jonathan Fishman, Louise Gibbs, Jane Oakshott, Samuel Queen, Rebecca Schwarz, Nikolaos Spantideas (President-Elect), Besfort Williams, Sarah Wright-Owens (Company Secretary).
Dr Rehab Awad MBBCh, MSc, MD, PG Dip (Voice Disorders)
Clinical lead for Speech and Language Therapist at University Hospital Lewisham since 2009. She leads the voice services for both adults and children in the Speech and Language Therapy Department and provides voice therapy input in the Multidisciplinary voice clinic at UHL, one of the leading Voice Disorders clinics in the UK. She is also a Visiting Associate Professor of Phoniatrics Sciences at Kasr Alaini Hospital, Cairo University. She graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of Cairo University in 1996.Shewas awarded both an MSc and MD in Phoniatrics Sciences from the University of Cairo in 2000 and 2008 respectively. Rehab studied voice disorders at UCL and was awarded a post-grad diploma in 2005. She has an interest and passion for research and has publications in the field of voice. She was recently co-opted as a BVA council member.
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.
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.
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 first academic job was setting up and running the Drama Department at Otago University, New Zealand, where I also involved town and gown communities in performances, and instituted the country’s first Radio Drama course. I was appointed MBE in 2008 for services to drama, as a deviser and director of large scale, historically informed performances. I set up my Voice Coaching business in 1992, Trio Literati (performance company) in 2003, and – with a Speech Therapist colleague – Leeds Voice Days in 2008. All ongoing. What fires me about voice coaching is how it can transform everyday lives.
Samuel Queen MA (Cantab), MA (London), AdvDip (RAM)
Sam trained on the opera course at the Royal Academy of Music after reading English at Cambridge. He enjoyed a number of years as a baritone soloist on operatic stages and concert platforms in the UK and abroad, and toured and recorded extensively. He furthered his studies privately with Professor Janice Chapman, as well as continuing his teaching development with courses in a variety of pedagogical models and approaches to voice, and observing in Voice Clinics and multi-disciplinary practices.
Sam runs London Singers Studio, which he formed with his partner, John Lattimore. Clients of the studio include international opera singers, West End principals and recording artists. Sam and John co-teach in the majority of lessons, and have a particular interest in meeting the varied demands of performers in a range of genres. Sam also teaches at ArtsEd and has been a member of the BVA since 2009. More information at www.londonsingersstudio.com.
Rebecca Schwarz BA (Hons) LLCM, ALCM (TD)
Rebecca has been teaching singing for over 15 years and running choirs for almost as long. In that time she studied almost every approach out there but the thing that stuck with her most was her initial training through the BVA.
In 2017 she joined the BVA Education Working Party and since then she has led or been involved with teams that organised events about dancers, extreme voice, neurology and spoken voice.
Rebecca has a special interest in how mindset and emotional blocks can inhibit “free” singing and expression. She has studied and qualified in various therapeutic approaches.
Rebecca loves bringing people and activities together and making things happen.
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.
Besfort Williams trained at The Guildford School of Acting. He is an associate of renowned singing teacher Mark Meylan, and has clients working in television, theater, and the recording industries. He teaches on the musical theater BA Hons course at Arts Educational and has previously taught at LAMDA. He has assisted as vocal coach on The Book of Mormon tour, and most recently has acted as vocal consultant for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new production The Magician’s Elephant. He has sung with Gary Barlow, Paloma Faith, Joss Stone, The Who, Nitin Sawhney, BAFTAs, The Royal Variety Performance and the BBC Proms. Besfort completed Somatic VoiceworkTM Certification Levels One, Two and Three in 2018, and Sessions I, II and III from The New CCM Institute (Shenandoah University) in 2019. He serves on the Council and Educational Working Party for the British Voice Association and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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.