Creative Team

Producer, Claire Marshall
Claire Marshall makes things happen. She has worked in a diverse range of settings and has a proven record of enabling people to achieve in challenging circumstances. As a facilitator and project manager working primarily within the arts and education sectors, she drives large visions through achievable steps that are tailor made for those she works for. There are three arts organisations that Claire has a continuing relationship with: for Welsh National Opera she is one of the Producers within the MAX Department; for Birmingham Hippodrome she supports the development and delivery of their larger education projects and is an associate of Open Theatre Company (aka shysters). In 2011 she co-formed and became one of the five Directors of changing cultures and from April 2012 has taken on the role of Learning and Participation Manger for the CBSO (part-time).

Composer, John O’Hara
John is a composer and musician who graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music and has gone onto have a rich and diverse musical career as a performer, composer and teacher. Performances include with The Halle, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Rambert Dance Company, The National Theatre and The Royal Exchange.  He was the resident composer at the Bristol Old Vic for over a decade and television commissions include: Miracle on the River Kwai, History in Action and Nicks Quest (Wild Life Series). John holds teaching postions at Bath and Bristol Universities and is a guest tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where in 2007 he adapted and scored Quadrophenia for the stage, which in 2009 was transferred into a professional production that toured the UK under his musical direction.  For Welsh National Opera he has composed The Boy Who Went To The West Wind, Magic Voices, The Merman King and is currently working on the commission for Horizons. He also plays piano and accordion in the band for Jethro Tull and is working on two commissions with Karen Hayes for the 3 Choirs Festival.

Writer/Librettist, Karen Hayes
Karen Hayes is a poet and librettist with a long theatre track record specialising in collaborative work across art forms, usually in settings in which people have in some way found themselves marginalised or at the edges of society and often feeling that they are without a voice. For Welsh National Opera she has previously co-delivered two music projects with SEN schools and is currently in the middle of the third (Horizons). She has worked poetically with groups including prisoners, survivors of domestic violence, elderly Chinese and young and trafficked women in danger of sexual exploitation. Work in these contexts involves collaborating with musicians and singers to find the lyric content and to put the work into a performance setting to represent the creative voice. She is currently working on two libretto commissions with composer John O’Hara, a song cycle and a community opera for the 3 Choirs festival 2013. Karen’s view is that everything is potential poetry.

Filmmaker, Mathew Beckett
Mathew Beckett is an award winning filmmaker with a passion for the cinematic, challenging and beautiful. Focussing in particular on content that empowers youth voices and clearly communicates positive representations of young people and their real stories, Mathew has worked closely with hundreds of young people over the past ten years to produce many short films for broadcast both in the UK and abroad.  Mathew has been involved in producing many films for companies such as Churches Conservation Trust, National Express, Glastonbury Festivals, Town Hall/Symphony Hall (Birmingham), BBC, USAID, British Airways, Stans Café Theatre, ACE Youth Dance, Round Midnight films, National Disability Film Awards, London Arts Forum, RIO, Brightspace/CP, Podnosh (digital media) and Media Trust.  In addition to being a highly skilled filmmaker, Mathew is an Arts Award Advisor and has helped over 130 young people attain their Arts Award over the past 4 years through working closely with students in both film and music based projects throughout the UK.  He joined the Horizons team in September 2012 and has quickly begun to bring his experience of working in care homes, special schools and in film to the project.

Movement Director, Lee Fisher
Born in Essex, Lee Fisher trained at the Royal Ballet School before joining Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in 1988 which became Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1990. He performed many roles during his 17 years including Tybalt (Romeo and Juliet), The Moor (Petrushka), Boldwood (Far from the Madding Crowd) and Drosselmeyer, King Rat (The Nutcracker). He has created roles in ballets by Bintley, MacMillan, Wright, Kudelka, York, Lustig, Redmon and Hindle and holds an MA in Applied Dance. As BRB’s Dancer in Education, he regularly leads a diverse range of workshops and projects. He is also Artistic Director of Freefall Dance Company, a company of young adult dancers with learning disabilities, established in partnership with Fox Hollies Special School that recently undertook a new commission and took a lead role in a London 2012 Festival project with Mencap. Lee also works in the Arts, Education and Commercial sectors to facilitate performance enhancement with individuals, groups and organisations as part of his coaching, consultancy and facilitation services.  Horizons is his first Welsh National Opera project and will utilise his dance and community arts experience within the project.

Chorus Master/Mezzo Soprano, Kate Woolveridge
Kate has had a long association with Welsh National Opera since first seeing the company perform at the age of ten. Inspired to become a singer with the company she has since sung with all the major opera companies in Britain, touring the UK and Europe as a soloist. She has been a member of the WNO extra chorus for 16 years and in the chorus for the last two years combining this with a successful solo career. Working on WNO education projects has given her the opportunity to communicate her love of singing and performing with eager students of all ages. She has worked as an animateur and performer on many schools and community projects and for Horizons is singing one of the key roles and leading the community chorus with never sung before staff from the school and care home.  In October 2012 Kate won the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award as seen on the Lorraine Kelly Show and voted by members of the public, for her work as the co-founder and musical director of the Forget-me-Not Chorus, which hosts weekly singing workshops for dementia patients in Cardiff, Wales.

Baritone, Owen Webb
Owen was brought up in Pontlliw, South Wales and studied at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with Beatrice Unsworth where he won numerous awards. At Welsh National Opera, he was an Associate Artist and the recipient of the Schäfer and Chris Ball burseries during 2005/2006 and toured with the company in 2010/2011. In addition to main house productions, Owen has performed and led many workshops for WNO education work for both schools and community projects including Through Listening Eyes which was made into a DVD and won Best short film at the Calgary Film Festival, Canada and The Merman King, which was also been made into a DVD as well as a staged performance. Owen also has extensive concert and recording experience. It’s with great pleasure that he is working on his third Birmingham WNO project with the Horizons Creative Team.

Soprano, Claire Groom
Claire graduated with distinction from the Royal Northern College of music in 2005 where she studied with Barbara Robotham.  Whilst at the RNCM she was awarded the Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss, the Bruce Millar/Gulliver Prize for young opera singers, the Dame Eva Turner Award for potential dramatic soprano’s and the Diva Opera Young Artist Award. She has also been supported by the Amanda Roocroft Award, Robin Kay Memorial Prize for Opera Singing, Lucy Pierce Award and the John Cameron Prize for Lieder.  In 2005 Claire was awarded a coveted BBC Fame Academy Bursary to fund her training and promotion.  Already in her career she has enjoyed an exciting concert and recital schedule as well as performed as and oratorio soloist and worked with contemporary composers. Alongside this she teaches singing lessons with 10 years experience working with beginners to professional singers. Horizons has been her first WNO project, that started with performing aspects of the new commission as part of work in progress sharings for participants and invited audiences in June 2012.