Our 2021 Adjudicators

Karen Blackburn      RAD (RTS) AIDTA

Karen has been involved in the performing arts from an early age, appearing on television at the age of six on ITV’s Junior Showtime, alongside Bonnie Langford and Lena Zavaroni. She has competed in festivals from a very young age winning many awards including a Laban scholarship prize for choreography, Runner Up in Miss Dance of Great Britain and the title of IDTA British Junior Ballet Champion.

Karen initially trained with Hilda & Phyllis Skinns of Hull and Louise Browne in York, and graduated from The Urdang Academy before going on to a successful performing career spanning several years throughout the UK and abroad. As a classical/contemporary dancer she worked with Ballet Independiente company (Mexico) and toured extensively throughout Germany with Spiel der Kräfte where two solos were created for her.

Alongside her dancing career, Karen has worked as a freelance choreographer since 1988 when she choreographed and danced at the first Summer Season at Alton Towers. Karen has also created works for Euro Disney and Adidas.

Karen is a registered teacher with the RAD, ISTD, and Rambert Grades and is also Principal of her own busy dance school in Hampshire. Several of her former students are currently working with major ballet companies worldwide, in West End Musicals or on television.

Karen is a member of the British and International Federation of Festivals.

Lucy Hollins    

Lucy Hollins is one of the most respected conductor-animateurs of her generation. Having studied and won several prestigious prizes in the UK and Canada, her leadership experience ranges across vocal and instrumental music-making with professional, amateur, youth and adult ensembles at the very highest level of each. It has seen her appear on TV and radio, premiering new works, adjudicating competitions, touring extensively throughout the UK and internationally, and working alongside some of the world’s finest musicians and directors. Lucy also works as a concert designer and presenter, and has recently worked on projects with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Lucy is Assistant Director of Music at the University of Warwick; a post she has held since 2005. She directs all of the university’s major vocal and instrumental ensembles and motivates music making passionately amongst students, staff and members of the local community. She is Director of the Royal College of Music Chorus and Associate Conductor of the London Symphony Chorus. 

Lucy is a leading expert in the field of music education and engagement, specialising in vocal outreach. She is Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Junior Choir and Associate Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Senior and Community Choirs. This role has seen her work alongside some of the UK’s most eminent conductors on premieres of new works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Jonathan Dove. She was previously director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Training Choirs and also lectured in choral conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Lucy’s commitment to music in development has taken her all over the world, including leading singing projects for charities African Prisons Project in Uganda and Songbound in India. 

Other recent work includes directing and conducting projects for the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Hippodrome, Sing Up, Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Music in Offices, Cranleigh Choral Week, Association of British Choral Directors and Crisis, in collaboration with musicians, actors, dancers, poets, writers and artists from many fields and backgrounds. 

Louise Manders

Louise first trod the boards when only five days old. Her professional theatrical career, which included repertory, musicals, television, films and touring in the UK began with Haymarket Stage Productions.

Louise is presently not only an adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Festivals and the Guild of Drama Adjudicators, but is also an adjudicator member of the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama. Her work takes her all over the UK as well as abroad.

Louise was Artistic Director of the Phoenix Youth Theatre in Southend, formerly the New Focus Theatre for many years. She teaches all ages, including adults, and specialises in the LAMDA examinations. She runs workshops and master classes, directs plays, open air productions and musicals, devises original drama compositions, writes poetry and has written many musical plays for children and students. Louise even finds time to dance flamenco!

Louise believes that all performers need a platform on which to perform and share their varied skills and she is happy to adjudicate, as required, either in person or online.

Vivienne Redford      LLAM, MSTSD (Adj)

Vivienne has studied Speech and Drama since the age of four and has been teaching the subject since 1980. She is Head of Speech and Drama at a large independent girl’s school in Bedford. She is also the Principal of the Redford School of Speech and Drama, established in 1982, training children and adults of all ages in all aspects of the performing arts and communication. Many of her former students perform in TV, film and theatre around the world and in major West End productions, the Globe, the RSC and the National Theatre. Others are pursuing careers as teachers of Speech and Drama, Theatre Directors and Technicians.

Vivienne has produced and directed a diverse range of musical and theatrical productions and particularly enjoys writing and devising original and creative theatre with her senior students. For the past nineteen years, she has organised and directed a widely-acclaimed summer school for students aged 7 to 21, which culminates in a commissioned play written for, and performed by, the students who attend.

Vivienne is an examiner for the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, a member of the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama and an Adjudicator member of the British and International Federation of Festivals travelling extensively throughout the UK, Ireland and the Channel Islands. She is a former secretary and now a Vice-President of the Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama which has given her a clear understanding and insight into the work, energy and commitment that Festival organisers, teachers and pupils put into making their Festivals a success. When not working (which is a rare occurrence) Vivienne enjoys seeing as much theatre as possible, reading, particularly children’s books, cooking and relishes spending time with her family.

Hilary Sturt   AGSM, ARCM

Hilary studied the violin with Shiela Nelson, David Takeno, and Felix Andrievsky, graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal College of Music with solo, chamber and contemporary music prizes. As a violinist and violist she performed and recorded worldwide with Ensemble Modern for 20 years, including notable projects with Frank Zappa, Peter Eotvos and Pierre Boulez. She has been guest leader of many British ensembles and chamber orchestras, a member of the Rasumovsky Quartet and Apartment House, winners of the Philharmonic Society Award for the Most Outstanding Chamber Music in 2011.

Hilary is much in demand as a teacher, adjudicator, conductor and sits on many audition and interview panels throughout the UK. She is Head of Strings at St Paul’s Girls’ School, Head of Chamber Music at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music, Instrumental Teaching Tutor at the Senior RCM, a Diploma examiner for the Associated Board and an examiner for AQA exam board. Hilary recorded the violin syllabus Grades 1-4 for the ABRSM in 2015 and was involved in choosing repertoire for the forthcoming ABRSM violin syllabus in 2019. Most recently, she was awarded an MA from the Institute of Education.

Rebecca Thompson BA(Hons), LLAM(Hons)

On graduating from Bristol University with a degree in Drama and English, Rebecca worked for BBC Radio Four’s Drama Department. After further journalism and corporate work, Rebecca studied for her Licentiate Teacher’s Diploma and has been teaching Speech and Drama privately and in schools for over 25 years.

Additionally a voice and presentation skills coach in the region, she teaches in private and state schools, colleges and businesses and is a facilitator for Speaking and Listening Courses in the South Gloucestershire region; in addition she facilitates communication training in schools across the country.

Rebecca has been actively involved in theatre in the South West and is an Adjudicator for the Rose Bowl Awards for Amateur Drama and Music; she also continues to direct plays with young people.

Rebecca is passionate about developing communication skills amongst people of all ages and abilities; she sees the Festival movement as an excellent way of achieving this goal. Rebecca has adapted her teaching methods during recent months and is very happy to adjudicate in person or online

Arthur Webb  MA, B.Ed, LRAM, GGSM

After graduating from Queen’s University, Belfast with a B.Ed degree in English and Drama, Arthur studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London and subsequently completed an MA in Drama and Media at Ulster University.

He taught in a large grammar school for 25 years where he was Head of the Creative and Expressive faculty. Currently he is Chief Examiner for Drama in Northern Ireland and Examiner for A level Performing Arts with CCEA.

As Arts Education Adviser, Arthur was responsible for introducing Drama to the NI Curriculum as a discrete and statutory subject. As an Associate with the British Federation of International Adjudicating and has adjudicated at many festivals throughout Ireland and the UK. He is also an Examiner with New Era Academy, London and has extensive experience of examining both locally and as far as Hong Kong.

Arthur was Director of the Youth Lyric Theatre, Belfast for 16 years and for many years Drama Coach for children’s programmes with the BBC. As a professional theatre director of 5 specially commissioned Shakespeare plays for schools, his work has toured Northern Ireland and Scotland. Arthur has directed a wide range of classical plays, operas and musical theatre and frequently coaches professionals in public speaking.

Michael Young         

Michael studied piano with Lilian Niblette and David Parkhouse, and composition with Charles Hutchings, reading music at Reading University , UEA and RCM. He is currently Professor of Piano at RWCMD and was previously Head of Keyboard at Wells Cathedral School.

Michael has performed widely as solo pianist, chamber musician and accompanist in the UK, USA, Germany etc., broadcasting on radio, and has made a special study of the works of Korngold. He has taught piano at RAM, RCM, TCM, Birmingham Conservatoire and the Universities of Cambridge, UEA and Liverpool and given masterclasses and lectured in numerous countries.

Michael has been an adjudicator for The British and International Federation of Festivals for nearly 20 years, and has adjudicated at numerous festivals, including two visits to Hong Kong. He has been an ABRSM examiner for over 35 years, visiting over 20 countries, and is a member of diploma, jazz and presenter panels.