Music Department Staff
Chris Lewis – Director of Music
Chris is a graduate of Reading University, where he was awarded the Peter Wishart Memorial Prize. He went on to study on the Advanced Course at the Royal Academy of Music before embarking on his teaching career. Chris has worked as a successful Head of Department in several independent schools, including King Henry VIII Junior School, Coventry and the British School of Houston, Texas.
Lynn Meredith – Teacher of A-level Music
Lynn is a graduate of Leeds University where she was awarded the Frank Toothill Memorial Prize for Music. She has worked extensively in music education, teaching in schools in Leeds and serving, for many years, as Chair of Examiners for Music at Advanced Level for a major examining board. For five years she was responsible for running the secondary music PGCE course at the University of Leeds. Lynn is Music Director of CSI: Halifax, a choir formed by Calderdale Music Service to entice adults back into singing. She has been Music Director of Halifax Young Singers since 1995.
Visiting Music Staff
Paul Brown – Piano
Paul graduated from The City Of Leeds College Of Music with a first class degree in Light Music and a piano-teaching diploma from Guildhall School of Music. He has travelled extensively playing on several cruise liners as band-leader and gigging both at home and abroad in theatres, clubs and hotels. He has taught piano at The Licensed Victuallers School in Ilkley and joined Rishworth School in 1990. He also teaches privately. Paul enjoys composing and his music has been performed in Dance Shows, Music Festivals, exams and more recently in collaboration with his son, A.J. Brown, a former Heathfield and Rishworth School student who is forging a career as a singer.
Mark Wagstaff – Drums and Percussion
After graduating from the University of Huddersfield with a first class BMus(Hons) Mark went on to the Royal College of Music where he completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Performance with Distinction. He now works as a freelance timpanist and percussionist with many leading orchestras including; Opera North, Hallé and BBC Philharmonic. Mark is a member of Backbeat Percussion Quartet and is a guest tutor with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain.
Ruth Burbidge – Flute and accompanist
Ruth Burbidge studied for three years at the Royal Academy of Music where her principal studies were piano and flute. After teaching music at Goole Grammar School for seven years, four of them as Head of Department, she went for a year to Trinity College of Music adding recorder and harpsichord to her studies and winning the prestigious Raymond Russell prize for all harpsichord students in the UK. A lecturing post took her up to Leeds, where she settled in Mytholmroyd and now maintains a successful career as soloist and accompanist. She is now in great demand as a tutor and conductor at recorder workshops and festivals in the UK and America. Much of her time is spent developing a recorder and Early Music publishing and distribution business. She has enjoyed teaching the flute, recorder and piano and providing accompaniment to generations of pupils at Heathfield and Rishworth School for more than 30 years.
Neil Darwent – Guitar
Neil Darwent graduated from The University of Huddersfield as a classically trained guitarist with a subject distinction in performance. He specialises in chamber music, performing pieces for guitar, strings, woodwind and keyboard but also enjoys playing solo guitar music for intimate recitals, functions and restaurants. He has taught and examined guitar at the University of Huddersfield and worked for music services in Oldham, Calderdale, Kirklees and Barnsley. Neil joined the Rishworth School team in 2002 and also teaches privately.
Caroline Davis – Violin
After graduating with a degree in Music from the University of Manchester, Caroline went on to study postgraduate performance and specialist strings teaching at the RNCM. Whilst in Manchester, Caroline was fortunate to study with Ronnie Birks of the Lindsay and Chilingrian Quartets. Following her studies, Caroline taught violin with the Menuhin Foundation in Bermuda. During this time, Caroline played with numerous visiting orchestras and has worked with artists including James Galway, Quincy Jones and Josh Groban. Now permanently back in the UK, Caroline is enjoying teaching violin at Rishworth and Heathfield and also regularly tutors for the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain.
Katharine Curlett – Brass
Katharine studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester She appeared as a soloist at the Wigmore Hall and was awarded a place on the LSO Brass Academy. Katharine regularly works as a freelancer with the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony and Hallé orchestras. As well as orchestral playing, Katharine has performed with pop artists including ‘Adele’, ‘The Ting Tings’ and ‘Elbow’. As a musical educator she has worked with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain for a number of years and organises numerous outreach projects with her Brass Quintet ‘Northern Brass’.
Paula Sides – Voice
Paula Sides received the Tagor Gold Medal from the Royal College of Music after completing the International Opera School and the Karaviotis Prize at the Les Azuriales International Competition. At the Royal College of Music, she was a finalist for the Young Concert Artists Trust and received the Coutts & Co. Award along with the Sir Thomas Allen Scholarship supported by a Clayton Award. She not only has a flourishing opera career, performing regularly with English Touring Opera, but also performs on the concert platform with conductors including Richard Farnes and David Hill. Teaching and pedagogy has always been a part of her career as well, and she now works with the NHS voice clinic as a voice teacher and teaches privately.
Harry Michalas – Woodwind
Harry Michalas graduated with Distinction from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2012, having previously graduated from the University of Manchester with a First Class Degree. During his studies he was awarded the RNCM Gilbert/Fell Solo Woodwind Prize in two consecutive years. He has performed as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician in many of the UK’s top venues, and across Europe and the USA. Highlights of his career so far have included performing at the BBC Proms, being broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and live on ITV and Channel 4. As a member of chamber groups, Harry has been a finalist in the Royal Overseas League and St Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Music Competitions.