College Council Biographies

Huw Edwards

huwSince January 2003, Huw Edwards has been known to millions of viewers as presenter of the BBC's Ten O'Clock News and he accepted an invitation to become the Patron of the National College of Music in 2005. As a result of his acceptance, he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the College.

Formerly Chief Political Correspondent for BBC News 24, Huw spent 12 years reporting politics at Westminster. He combined this with presenting a range of programmes on classical music on BBC TWO, Radio 3, Radio 4 and S4C. He is an organist, pianist and oboist, and in his youth had hopes of becoming a concert pianist, before deciding to focus on things academic.

In recent years he has presented The Story of Wales, Songs of Praise, and hosted coverage of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Service at St Paul's Cathedral.

Huw has presented a wide range of BBC programmes, including Newsnight, Panorama and Breakfast News.

Born in August 1961, Huw was raised in Llangennech, near Llanelli, and attended Llanelli Boys Grammar School.

He graduated, with a first class honours degree in French, from the University of Wales, Cardiff. He is also a Fellow of the University.

Huw is married and lives in South London.

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Jeffrey Fraser FRCO, LRAM, AMA

Jeffery Fraser was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1929, grew up and was educated there, qualifying as a trained teacher at the college which is now the Queensland University of Technology, of which he is an alumnus. He showed an early interest in music, and was given private tuition in piano and theory; then organ lessons with George Sampson at St John's Cathedral, where he played regularly for the 9.30 am Eucharist. He also gave organ solos on the famous Father Willis organ in the City Hall, in the Civic Concerts series. At the age of sixteen he was appointed as Organist and Choirmaster at a Brisbane church, then subsequently at St Mary's Church, Kangaroo Point, which has a historic organ by Lincoln, "Organ builder to the King".

He was awarded the diplomas of Associate in Music Australia, and Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music. Even in those early days he was composing short pieces of music and his part-song "Carol of the Reapers" was sung in City Hall.

The Royal College of Organists, in those days, did not hold examinations overseas, so in 1953 Jeffery (with his wife and daughter) travelled to England to teach and to study. He was invited by Raymond Gray to join the choir at St Barnabas Church, Dulwich, and was appointed Deputy Organist. Continuing his teaching career, he was subsequently appointed Organist & Choirmaster at, successively, Emmanuel Church, West Dulwich; Christ Church, Purley; St John's Church, Old Coulsdon; and St Mildred's Church, Addiscombe. It was during his time here that his first anthem, "Our Blest Redeemer", was published (by Oxford University Press). He continued his organ studies, passing the ARCO exam and gaining the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists.

He continued composing occasional music for his choirs, and in 1999 composed a hymn-tune for St Paul's Cathedral's competition for a new hymn to celebrate the Millennium. His hymn-tune won second prize and was sung (conducted by the late and sadly missed John Scott) in the cathedral at the London Millennium service, at which Jeffery and his wife had reserved seats.

Since retiring to West Dorset in 1994, Jeffery has continued to deputise at local churches in the Beaminster area and also, in particular, Holy Trinity church, Bothenhampton. Here, with the help and dedication of the enthusiastic members of the choir, he was instrumental in preserving the high standard they had achieved, despite not having had an appointed organist for many years. For this church Jeffery has composed choral items and a unison West Dorset Communion Service, as well as organ pieces which have been published by animus music publications.

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Dr Michael Walsh DMus ThD GTCL FTCL HonFNCM HonGCM FGMS

Michael Walsh studied singing and organ at the RSCM and Trinity College of Music where he was awarded prizes for conducting and research. His main performing interest has always been in sacred music and, after eighteen years as Head of Music at a large comprehensive school and a Lay Clerk in Chichester and Portsmouth Cathedral Choirs, he now divides his time between working as a freelance musician and as the Design Director of The Better Book Company, a publishing company based in Chichester.

He has been Conductor of the St. Richard Singers for a total of over 20 years, and sings with the chamber choir Chichester Voices, to whom he is composer-in-residence. He recently retired as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Chichester Symphony Orchestra and for almost 35 years was Musical Director of the Chichester Amateur Operatic Society. He is now devoting more time to composition, including a complete setting of the Missa pro Defunctis earlier in 2015.

Michael is Secretary General of the Guild of Musicians and Singers and also acts as Publications Manager for the Guild of Church Musicians. He edits the magazines Fanfare and Laudate for each Guild respectively.

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Andrew Wilson B.Mus.(Hons), Hon.FNCM, PGCE, MISM

awilsonAndrew M. Wilson was born in 1960 in Bedfordshire. He held a Junior Exhibition to Trinity College of Music, London, before proceeding to study Music at the Royal Holloway College of London University, where his teachers included Brian Dennis for composition and Martin Neary for organ.

He has taught music at a series of distinguished schools and for 22 years was Director of Music at Kelly College, Tavistock, where he also conducted of the Kelly Choral Society, and the Plymouth-based South West Chamber Choir. He is a very busy much-published composer and in the past year his music has been performed all over the world, including at the Royal Albert Hall, London; he has had a number of commercial recordings released of his orchestral, chamber and keyboard music. His music has won numerous awards, most recently: first prize in the International Small Choirs Composing Competition 2015 and the “Harvest of the Sea” City of London Composition Competition 2015 and he was a finalist in the Greyfriars’ Kirk, Edinburgh Composition Competition 2015 and the Dorking Choral Society Carol Competition 2015. He has been the organist of several important churches, including All Saints’ Worcester and Upton-upon-Severn and is now the organist and Musical Director of Okehampton Parish Church, Devon.

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Paul Cheater BA MIMgt HonFNCM Cert Ed

prc1In addition to a successful career as a musician, Paul Cheater has enjoyed a wide-ranging and distinguished teaching career that has embraced all aspects of education, from primary to university level, in the United Kingdom and overseas. He has held many positions of responsibility, including that of head, in several schools since he was appointed to his first teaching post at Papplewick School in Ascot in 1973.

Paul was inspired by two teachers while at Kingswood School in Bath: the first was Roger Pope, MBE, who became the Warden of Trinity College of Music, and the second was Dr John Byrt, former organ scholar of St John’s College, Oxford, who left teaching to become a highly acclaimed composer. After Kingswood, Paul went on to train as a teacher with the Oxford University Education Department and concurrently to study the organ at University College, Oxford with the university organist, the late Dr John Webster. He also studied the piano with the Oxford-based pianist, Vernon Mann, and vocal studies with Dr Olga Wilson.

Paul was one of the founder members of the team from Monash University in Melbourne that set up the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, and he became a research fellow of Monash in 2008. His involvement with this project led to him giving a number of television and radio broadcasts and also being invited to speak about the project in many different forums. An interview that Paul gave to BBC Oxford may be found here: View article.

He was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the National College of Music and Arts in 2003 for services to music and he has been a member of the College Council since that time, becoming Principal of the college in 2015. He is very much involved in active music-making, being the organist and choirmaster of two churches in the West Country, making him a popular choice as a recitalist in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America.

Paul is a fully qualified teacher, an Associate of the College of Teachers and a Fellow of the Guild of Musicians and Singers. He lives with his wife Diana, also a teacher, and two black Labradors, in West Dorset.

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Michael Feben-Smith, B.Ed (Hons) FGMS

Michael began his musical career by winning a place at Westminster Abbey as a chorister, where he sung for many prestigious occasions. He then further enriched his musical skills while a student at Hereford Cathedral School, where he continued to develop both his vocal studies and to progress his viola playing.  Later, as a student, he managed to combine his educational training as a teacher with numerous musical activities, graduating with an honours degree in Education from the University of Southampton in 1978. Although now a retired teacher after a highly successful career, he combines his work as Finance Director of the NCM with that of private tutor.

Michael is a founder member of The Orlando Singers, one of Dorset's most celebrated chamber choirs and it is he who is responsible for the administration of its annual itinerary and finances.  He is also a member of the prestigious Purcell Club, which organises monthly lecture-singing tours in Westminster Abbey. He was elected as a Fellow of the Guild of Musicians and Singers in 2008.

During his first teaching post at Summer Fields School in Oxford, Michael was invited to try his hand in business and he headed for London, where he was appointed as Company Secretary to two property development firms for ten years, responsible for all of their financial affairs. It is this unique mix of commerce, education and music that makes Michael a perfect fit as Finance Director of the NCM.

Michael lives in Dorset and is married with one child and a Golden Retriever. He continues to keep several business interests active.

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Paul F Woods LLCM, LTSC, L Mus

Paul’s association with the NCM goes back to the 1970s, when he was one of the youngest people to gain the college’s fellowship diploma in piano playing. He is the longest-serving member of the College Council, having served under two previous Principals. He is predominantly a pianist and he is also a proficient church organist, and a teacher of both piano and organ using both standard notation and tonic-sol-fa. He holds a licentiate’s diploma from the College of Tonic-Sol-Fa.

Paul is a highly qualified musician, holding fellowship diplomas from the London College of Music, the National College of Music, and the Victoria College of Music in which he was awarded a Pass with Honours. He has also received honorary fellowship diplomas from the Council of Sacred Music and the North and Midlands School of Music, and he was awarded a Gold Medal from the world-famous London Academy of Music, Drama and Art.

He is much sought after as a teacher of piano, organ, the theory of music, and speech, and he is passionate about the methodology of music teaching and liturgical music.

Paul lives in Caerphilly, being a Welshman born and bred, where in addition to his musical portfolio, he gives of his time to working for charity.

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Tom Cheater B.A.(Hons), Hon.ANCM

Tom Cheater was appointed to the NCM Council as the college’s Young People’s Representative in 2010. After attending Monkton School, where he won the top music scholarship, he studied at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, graduating as Bachelor of Arts.

His first public solo performance was as a violinist at a concert in the Holywell Room in Oxford when he was just eight years old, and he has performed in many venues on many instruments since then.

Tom is an eclectic musician and is primarily a bassoonist, as comfortable playing the bassoon with a professional orchestra as he is playing the drums in a contemporary band. He also plays the violin and viola and all members of the recorder family. As far as contemporary music is concerned he enjoys a reputation as a talented and sensitive drummer and a competent bass guitarist.

Tom has sung with several choirs and has been fortunate to have travelled with the choirs to many venues in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, and North America.

As well as a profound love for, and knowledge of, classical music, Tom is enthusiastic about modern experimental music in both classical and contemporary genres and he is in the process of compiling his first album, which he hopes will be released publicly in the near future.

Tom’s brief is to be an ambassador for the NCM and to devise and develop new initaitives that will attract and encourage younger musicians to develop their potential to the best of their ability. He was elected as an Honorary Associate of the College for his work in 2015, and he has recently been accepted as a trainee examiner.

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