Anita Bellman, Executive Director
Music has the power to heal, to unite and bring peace, to energise and mobilise, to inspire and transport the musician and audience alike. There is an immense body of research that attests to the positive impact of music education on brain development, social inclusion and cohesion and emotional intelligence and well-being. Music is also fun. Many lifetimes could be devoted to the pursuit of musical knowledge and there would still be more to learn.
Anita Bellman’s role of Executive Director of the Northern Rivers Conservatorium in the regional town of Lismore NSW is varied, to say the least. From hosting Teddy Bears Picnics for the very youngest musicians right through to being Artistic Director of her Conservatorium’s Silver Jubilee. The Silver Jubilee in 2016 was an open-air multi-artform performance of original orchestral, choral, contemporary music, movement and live projection conducted by the acclaimed Richard Gill and involving over 100 musicians, singers and performers of multi-generations.
Community engagement and partnerships are vitally important to Anita’s commitment to providing her local community with access to quality music education and performance experiences. As President of the Association of NSW Regional Conservatoriums, a network of 17 Regional Conservatoriums across NSW, Anita is able to expand her work as an educator, administrator, collaborator and advocate at the state level.
Anita has a Bachelor of Contemporary Music majoring in voice and a Graduate Diploma of Education both from Southern Cross University. As an educator, she teaches singing and has taught in high-schools, in the vocational education and training sector and at university.
Our tutors (click +/- to toggle)
Dan Brown – Piano [MIS]
Dan Brown started playing piano as a 12 year old and went on to to study composition at ANU with Larry Sitsky.
Dan teaches in our Music in Schools program at Bangalow Public School.
Dan has enjoyed playing many international tours and major national festivals. Dan has experience in wide range of styles – pop, jazz, reggae, R&B, Electronica and hip hop all have featured in recent gigs.
Over the last 5 years Dan has performed at numerous Australian festivals – including – Adelaide fringe (Pete Murray and The ASO), Island Vibes (the bird, Red Bantoo,Fyah Walk) and Mullum Fest (Shelly Hughes) and Woodford (the Bird and Red Bantoo, Fyah Walk). He has also enjoyed 4 international tours.
As a recording artist he has co-produced/ engineered/ played and composed 3 albums, most recently Shelly Hughes’ “Where the owl was”.
Justin Bannister – Piano, Vocals [CM, MIS]
Justin grew up in Frankenmuth Michigan, USA, and first sat at a keyboard, aged 9, to learn piano. Even back then he knew he’d found his passion and calling. And he has followed it-all the way to Australia, where he now lives with my partner, Robyn.
His musical influences include Jerry Lee Lewis, Elton John, Leon Russell, Jordan Rudess, Gov’t Mule, Billy Joe Shaver and Lyle Lovett. Over the last 20-years, Justin has been privileged to play and perform with musicians across the globe on projects ranging in genre from country, folk and rock to experimental, impromptu works.
In January 2017, he joined the ‘Living in the 70s’ band as a keyboard player and vocalist and has been performing the great songs of that decade ever since. “It’s always great to see our audience up and dancing and having so much fun with the music from that era!”
When he’s not performing or writing, Justin is teaching piano. Justin started teaching at the NRC in May 2021 and currently teaches at Eureka, Corndale and Newrybar in the Music In Schools program as well as the Community Music program.
You can check out Justin’s website, www.justinbannister.com for more information.
Nic Campbell – Youth Jazz Orchestra; Saxophone, Piano [CM]
Rex Carter – Drums [MIS]
Rex has been teaching drum kit for nearly 30 years. He moved to the Northern Rivers in Jan 2006 and is currently tutoring over 40 students. Rex is a professional musician who is working regularly with country/ bluegrass band ‘The Round Mountain Girls’, reggae/ latin band ‘Ragga Jump’, funk/soul band ‘The Crew’, and others.
Rex teaches in our Music in Schools program at Bangalow Public School and Byron Community Primary School.
For more info please visit www.rexcarterdrums.com.
Felicity Clifton - Voice, Early Childhood Music - Community Music
BA Cont. Mus, Grad Dip Ed
Having won a Dolphin Award in the folk genre in 2000, Felicity graduated from Southern Cross University, Lismore in 2004 with a Bachelor of Contemporary Music (Vocal Major) and Graduate Diploma of Education. She has directed various community choral groups for both children and adults in Australia and internationally.
Felicity specialises in singing as a therapy for pre/post-natal groups as well as mental health and aged care home choirs. Highlights include choir directing and vocal workshops (Mental Health Conference, 2009 Sydney), and co-facilitating A Cappella choirs in Italy and Samoa.
As well as teaching vocals with the Community Music Department for 15 years, Felicity has been a valued and energetic member of the Conservatorium’s Early Childhood Music department for over 10 years. For the past two years she has sung and performed with Isabella A Cappella at Southern Cross University in Lismore.
Lynne Compton - Piano, Flute, Cello, Ensembles - Community Music
Dip Modern Langs , B.Mus / B.Teach
Lynne has always been a musician, curious about all music and all instruments. This led to studies initially in piano then flute, cello and guitar. Lifelong music education with adaption according to skill levels then became the main focus.
Lynne teaches in our Community Music program onsite at the Conservatorium.
She has taught music K-12 in Government and Non-Government Schools, trained Primary and Secondary Bands, arranged scores for musicals and accompanied for Eisteddfods , exams and concerts. She has presented students for AMEB exams in Piano and Flute and at present teaches Piano, Flute, Cello as single studies and Pre- Instrumental , Cello Group, and an Elementary Band as group activities. The age range of her students is 5 years to 75 years.
As a result of her arranging experience Lynne has performed the role of Musical Director for the Northern Rivers Youth Orchestra Workshop in 2013 and 2014.
Adam Gardiner - Drums - Community Music
Adam Gardiner is a musician and composer from the north coast of NSW Australia, who began playing drums at the age of 13. He completed a Bachelor of Contemporary Music at the Southern Cross University in Lismore. During the years spent there Adam honed his skills in the genres of jazz, blues, funk, latin and fusion. He has worked with a number of artists and bands including: Candice Casagrande, Stan Walker, Charlotte Marshall, Sarah Grant, Pink Zinc, Rich Latimer, Cath Simes Band, The Northern Rivers Big Band, Andy Jans-Brown and more.
Adam has worked regularly as a performer, session musician, teacher and composer. In 2018 Adam was awarded first class honours for his creative works and research project “Sounds of Contemporary Media”. Adam’s compositions have been licensed internationally and have been heard on TV and video games in Australia, France, the USA and the UK. Some placements include: “All Aussie Adventures”, “Totally Wild”, “SA Weekender”, “Queensland Weekender” and “Seafood Escape with Andrew Ettingshausen”.
Adam teaches in our Community Music program onsite at the Conservatorium.
Katrina Harris - Piano and Singing Teacher, Music in Schools Program (MIS)
Katrina Harris M.Mus.A, L.Mus.A
Katrina is a piano and singing teacher for the Music In Schools Program, currently teaching at Bangalow Primary School and Byron Community Primary School.
She has a Masters Degree from Sydney University, where she studied Piano Performance under renowned Australian pianist Stephanie McCallum. Whilst studying for her Masters Degree, Katrina completed both her Associate of Music and Licentiate of Music Degrees in Piano Performance. Her Masters thesis was entitled “Female Jazz Singers and Their Contribution to the Development of Jazz”. Katrina has a passion for all forms of music, including classical, jazz, pop, blues, rock and contemporary styles.
Katrina is an established piano and vocal teacher with over 20 years experience, teaching both adults and children. She performs regularly in and around the Northern Rivers, as a soloist and as part of various bands, and is also a composer, writing music for film, and songs in the pop/jazz idiom. Katrina also works as a presenter/announcer on local radio station Paradise FM, contributing her voice to various projects.
Laura Hymers - Woodwind - Music in Schools and Community Music
Laura learnt oboe in a school program in England and has been teaching woodwind and performing in this area for over 15 years including tutoring students for AMEB exams.
Laura teaches in our Music in Schools Program at Wyrallah Road Public School.
She performs regularly here and on the Gold Coast as a semi-professional oboist as a soloist and with various chamber groups.She also has extensive orchestral experience and was principal oboist with the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra for more than 15 years.
Laura is also a qualified primary school classroom teacher and has worked for many years in various schools in this area. She has particular experience in teaching children with learning difficulties.
Passionate about the joy and benefit of learning and playing music, Laura works to empower children with the skills they need to get the most from their musical opportunities.
Fiona Kerr - Piano, Voice and Recorder Community Music
Mathew Lydon - Violin, Mandolin, Guitar - Community Music; Music in Schools
Mathew completed his Bachelor of Contemporary Music at Southern Cross University in 2013, majoring in Music Education and Production.
Mathew teaches in our Community Music program onsite at the Conservatorium and in our Music in Schools program at Kyogle and Mullumbimby Public Schools.
He currently plays violin for the three-piece band Border Rangers and regularly performs and records in a range of other local ensembles that are explorative of jazz, classical, blues, country, old-time, eastern European folk music, rock, experimental and improvised music. Mathew has been very much involved in composition and song writing projects as a collaborator and solo artist since 2002.
Mathew’s experience in a diverse range of genres allows him to deliver lessons that are very much interest/goal based however he can also assist with following a specific curriculum such as AMEB. He can also assist with music theory and composition.
Michael McCabe - Violin, Viola, Cello, Ensembles - Community Music; Music in Schools
Michael has qualifications from NSW State Conservatorium of Music in Sydney and Newcastle Conservatorium. He has been teacher, performer, conductor and administrator. In the mid-1990’s he studied conducting with Myer Fredman whilst working with youth and community orchestras in Penrith.
Michael teaches in our Community Music onsite at the Conservatorium and in our Music in Schools program at Byron Bay and Wyrallah Road Public Schools.
Exploits over the decades have included Musical Director of the Macquarie University Symphony Orchestra, musical director for various musical theatre productions in both Penrith and Newcastle, Director of Strings at St Paul’s Grammar School in Penrith for seven years where, in the early stage, he also administered the Peripatetic Program and was Head of Strings at Tamworth Regional Conservatorium of Music. Michael was a member of the committee for the NSW Chapter of the Australian Strings Association (AUSTA) for six years.
Michael teaches violin, viola and cello at Northern Rivers Conservatorium and directs the Strings Ensemble Program.
Neil McCann - Drums, Guitar - Music in Schools
Neil McCann has been teaching guitar and drums as well as performing and recording in the Northern Rivers for fourteen years. Before that he was teaching and performing in Sydney.
Neil teaches in our Community Music program onsite at the Conservatorium and in our Music in Schools program at Byron Bay, Empire Vale and Ocean Shores Public Schools.
Neil has performed at many national festivals including Bluesfest, Tamworth, Gympie muster, Reggae Fest and Karuah Bluegrass festival.
His teaching style is relaxed and fun with an emphasis on student goals.
Mark Mulder - Guitar, Bass and Ukulele - Community Music
David O'Meara - Brass instruments - Community Music and Music in Schools
Diploma of Arts – Music (VCA) Graduate Diploma in Education (Monash University)
David commenced french horn studies in the Royal Australian Navy with Alex Grieve, Principal Horn with the Melbourne Symphony. He then played in RAN Bands in Victoria and NSW, the flagship HMAS Melbourne and on recordings. After military service David continued his brass studies at the Victorian College of the Arts with Alex Grieve, Gordon Webb and Reg Bishop (formerly of the Sydney Symphony). He completed three years undergraduate studies then undertook two years Graduate Studies majoring in ‘Community Music Projects’and ‘Horn Solo and Orchestral Repertoire’ with electives in conducting with John Hopkins and jazz piano with Bob Sedergreen. During these years David undertook community music projects in the NT and Victoria and was as a freelance horn player performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra plus many theatre orchestras and chamber music groups. David then joined the Victoria Police Band as a professional musician playing horn, trumpet and keyboards and was the assistant conductor.
David eventually launched a career in education achieving a Graduate Diploma in Education from Monash University and was Director of Music in five secondary colleges. He created and developed band programs and passionately integrated instrumental music into the classroom curriculum. His student concert bands and rock groups won various inter-school awards and competitions. In Melbourne he played first horn with the Heidelberg Wind Ensemble, trumpet and electric organ (simultaneously!) in the lounge music band ‘The Kahuna Daddies’ and trombone in the Victoria Brass Quartet.
David loves teaching and continues to play french horn, trumpet, flugël horn, euphonium, trombone and keyboards performing in community bands and the Lismore Symphony Orchestra.
‘Never underestimate the power music has to change lives’
Luke Rosten - Piano - Community Music
Luke Rosten is a passionate and dedicated musician, performer and composer. Born and bred in the Lismore area, Luke started his musical journey by undertaking his first piano lessons at age 9, learning classical music and undertaking AMEB exams under Robyn Egan, until he earned a A.MUS.A at age 19. He also has a Bachelor of Contemporary Music degree majoring in education and performance, as well as an honours degree majoring in composition.
Luke has been actively involved in the local music scene since 2010 where he was part of the very first Jazz Orchestra at the Conservatorium, run by Julius Hofftetter. Since then Luke has performed in a wide variety of bands including Mr. Speaker & the People Party, Ladyslug, Ragga Jump, Undercover, Ahiru and recently formed tribute act for Faith No More. His diverse range of musical influences include Dream Theatre, Sergei Rachmanioff, Tigran Hamasyan, Sting, and just about all forms of video game music.
Geof Webb - Voice, Piano - Community Music; Music in Schools
Geof studied piano at Melbourne University with Trevor Barnard and Margaret Schofield; and singing with David Ashton Smith. He performed on stage and in the pit of many operas and musicals in Melbourne in the 1980s; and with Whitehall Choir in London from 1989-2005.
Geof teaches in our Community Music program onsite at the Conservatorium and in our Music in Schools program at Bangalow and Mullumbimby Public Schools.
Since 2006 he has performed with the Melbourne Chamber Choir, Coro Innominata (Sydney) and Vox Caldera (Lismore); in NORPA’s Railway Wonderland (2012 & 2015) and The Events (2018). In 2016 he joined the Opera Queensland chorus for The Barber of Seville at HOTA (2016) and as Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi for Opera Gold Coast (2019).
Geof has sung as soloist in Handel’s Messiah and Mozart Requiem for Byron Music Society; Bach’s St Matthew Passion for Amatori; and regularly gives recitals with Nicholas Routley and Gaynor Morgan. He is also the [pipe] organist at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Bexhill.
Imogen Wolf - Voice - Community Music
An award-winning vocalist, Imogen has been teaching at the Conservatorium since 2002.
An inspiring and thoughtful teacher, she enables others to find ease, freedom and confidence in their voices – and have fun doing it.
Imogen teaches in our Community Music program onsite at the Conservatorium
With a passion for community harmony, Imogen is a choir director, arranger, and facilitator of two WolfSong choirs which run weekly in Lismore and Bangalow. Annual workshop offerings include two five-day singing workshops in Bellingen (Camp Creative Joy Of Singing, and the Joy of Singing Winter Camp); Heartsong, a weekend of rhythm, yoga and song for women in the Gold Coast hinterland; and SeaSong, a weekend of choral singing in Brunswick Heads. She regularly facilitates Harmony Singing, Vocal Technique and Reading Music workshops.
Imogen offers students a grounding in vocal anatomy, physiology and function, providing a technical toolbox to help build their skills. Motivated by the joy and sense of community that is fostered when people come together to sing, she is committed to nurturing harmony and healing through the voice.
Rochelle Wright - Early Childhood Music Co-ordinator - Community Music; Early Childhood Music
Rochelle Wright is a musician, songwriter and teacher dedicated to bringing the joy of music into children’s lives. Her music career has encompassed working as a choir conductor and voice teacher at Melbourne’s NMIT and as a performer at many top Australian music festivals including Womadelaide, Woodford & National Folk Fests, and Bellingen Global Carnival. Rochelle has also worked as a marimba instrument maker, a member of Melbourne women’s Bulgarian choir Petrunka, and for the last decade in Early Childhood Music teaching and entertainment.
Rochelle founded ECM classes ‘Sing by the Sea’ in 2003 in Northern NSW which ran for ten years. She has recorded numerous albums including 3 celebrated children’s albums. Playschool has performed Rochelle’s music in their 2011/12 ‘In the garden’ series, and co-ordinator Hannah Stone quotes “Everyone at Playschool loves listening to your music!”
Rochelle is also known as ‘Sunshine’ in well loved theatrical performance trio, ‘The Curly Cousins’. Formed in 2008, the Curlies engage in interactive concerts aimed to musically inspire and delight young children and families.