Jonathan Kilhams BMus (Hons) ABRSMdip MISM
Jonathan has built a reputation on being one of the most encouraging and supportive choral directors for both amateur and professional groups. In 2020, when Covid struck the world, he was determined to not let it stop community music making. He quickly established a way of keeping all his groups going and even formed a brand new virtual choir. His supportive approach during a time when people needed it most led to him being shortlisted for a Making Music award which saw him reaching the final three candidates in the whole of the UK.
Jonathan’s career in music was kickstarted from a young age when he was a chorister at Chichester Cathedral. From the age of seven he had a love for music and particularly choral music. This continued at his secondary school, Lancing College, where he gained a choral scholarship to Royal Holloway, University of London. It was here where his love for choral music and community music making flourished. Studying under Rupert Gough meant that he was lucky enough to record several discs on the Hyperion record label, tour around America, China and Europe and perform at some highly prestigious venues across the world. Until his second year at university most of Jonathan’s music making was performing as a bass but this was soon to change when he was awarded, at the time, the highest ever mark given to a choral conducting student. Jonathan is continuing his professional development with conductor, Neil Ferris, and is a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
Jonathan conducts two adult community choirs in Surrey, Walton Voices and Weybridge Male Voice Choir. Both choirs Jonathan has conducted for eight years and are known to be two of the happiest choirs in Surrey. Jonathan’s patient and supportive approach has resorted in one choir doubling in size in the first few years he conducted them. Jonathan is also Head of Music at Cleves School in Weybridge, Surrey where he directs all of the school ensembles, including the handbell group, which have gone on to represent the UK in a national event. Jonathan has transformed the music at this school and it has resulted in the school being awarded its Music Mark status for two consecutive years. Outside of his school he was the brainchild behind the Elmbridge School Choirs Festival which is now in its fifth year and sees close to five hundred children singing together. This has become one of the highlights of the year for schools in Elmbridge.
When Jonathan isn’t conducting or teaching he enjoys playing hockey, being out amongst nature, running and watching cricket. Jonathan has also recently become a dad for the first time so if you have any wise words for him then please do let him know!
Anna Maria Raffa BA (hons), LRSM, CT ABRSM
Anna has been accompanying choirs, singers and instrumentalists since the age of nine, discovering her sensitive, intuitive approach and love of accompanying, and has continued ever since. She studied piano with Jean Anderson and violin with Ita Herbert at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music. She went on to study Music at Southampton University and later gained two Piano Diplomas from the Royal Schools of Music. Anna has a successful piano teaching practice, teaching in three top independent schools in Surrey and London, and is sought after as an accompanist.
As a choral accompanist, she has played with numerous choirs including Horsley, Hampton, Teddington, Claygate and Southampton Choral Societies, Sheen Gate Choir, Singlive UK, Promenade Youth Choir and In Accord, Woking Youth Choir, as well as accompanying many school choirs including Notre Dame, Cobham; St Teresa’s, Effingham; Newland House, Twickenham; Esher Sixth Form College, Kensington Park and St George’s College, Weybridge.
Anna has been fortunate to perform in a variety of beautiful locations, as accompanist on sixteen European school choir tours - the most memorable being Notre Dame Cathedral. In the UK, she has accompanied adult choirs at venues such as Westminster Abbey, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Hampton Court Palace. She has worked as accompanist alongside the flautist Atarah Ben-Tovim MBE and the baritone David Wilson-Johnson on residential music courses in France; and Catherine Moore, principal trumpet for the BBC Concert Orchestra. Anna also plays as an orchestral pianist for Philarmonia Britannica Orchestra in London. For eight years till 2019 she was a Vocal Coach for the adult choir Espressivo Chorus.
Since 2009, Anna has played for many Musical Theatre shows across Surrey, with companies including BLOS, the Nomads, Mid Surrey Theatre Company, Kingston Vale Theatre Group and Starmaker Youth Theatre and was MD for the Nomads’ Tom Lehrer Review ‘Tomfoolery’ in 2009, Stonecircle Productions ‘Liliaceae’ in 2018, and Assistant MD and pianist for Teddington Theatre Club’s Sondheim Review ‘Side by Side’ in 2015.
Anna also has a love of West Africa and studied djembe drumming in Senegal, France and Germany, and later went on to work in London with djembe masters Mamady Keita, Famadou Konate and Seckou Keita. Outside of music, Anna enjoys a round of golf, having recently been in the winning teams of two competitions.