The Festival appoints Adjudicators for each class. These are generally nationally renowned and appointed via the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Drama & Speech.  We ask our adjudicators to give praise, encouragement and constructive criticism in appropriate balance.  We hope that all performers will be encouraged and motivated by the adjudicators’ comments to further develop and advance their skills.

Our Adjudicators for 2018 

Speech & Drama Section                       

Stephen Owen

Stephen trained as a teacher of drama, speech and movement at Trinity and All Saints’ College, University of Leeds. After qualifying, he studied with Eliner Rutherford. As well as being responsible for drama at the schools in which he worked, he also taught pupils of all ages and abilities privately, from complete beginners to Licentiate (RAM) and Fellowship (LCM) level. Since retiring from headship in July 2007, he has been appointed as an examiner for the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and is an adjudicator for The British and International Federation of Festivals.

Music Section  

 Helen Deakin GRSM LRAM ARCM PGCE   - Piano

Helen Deakin studied piano and clarinet as joint first study at the Royal Academy of Music. She performs as both soloist and accompanist, with a particular specialism in chamber music.

As an ABRSM examiner, presenter and mentor, Helen has worked extensively throughout the UK and around the world. She has run a flourishing private teaching practice for over 25 years and is a very busy adjudicator member of the British and International Federation of Festivals.


Ian Smith    - Strings

Ian was born in London and is a graduate of York University. He studied violin privately with Frederick Grinke. He has held 4 teaching posts in his career (3 as Director of Music). Between the last two he was Head of Bedfordshire Music Service for 11 years. Ian is still in demand as a violinist but spends most of his time now conducting. Ian is Musical Director and principal conductor of the Bedford Choral Society (since 1985) and the Danesborough Chorus (since 1977), posts which he still holds. He conducted the Bedfordshire County Youth Second Orchestra for many years with whom he gave frequent performances at the Edinburgh Festival.

This breadth of musical experience and his enthusiasm for music has resulted in Ian being invited to conduct a number of other orchestras, give vocal workshops, run courses for adults and to adjudicate at various music festivals. As a violinist he is also leader of the Beverley String Quartet.



 Maria Jagusz    - Vocal, Adult choirs

Maria trained at the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio. She has worked as a singer all over the U.K. and abroad. She has been a soloist at E.N.O. Opera North, Scottish Opera, R.O.H. Opera de Lyon and Lisbon Opera, where she sang in operas with many leading singers including Domingo, Freni, Carreras, Lesley Garrett and Dame Felicity Lott.

Even when Maria was singing full time she was always interested in helping young singers to improve their vocal technique and performing abilities. Over the past fifteen years Maria has built up a large teaching practise and is passionate about creating opportunities for young talented singers especially those wanting to try for careers in singing and musical theatre. She was on the music staff at London College of Music and has coached at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Northern College of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire. Over thirty of her students are now working professionally and many of her younger students gain places at leading music conservatoires.

 John Witchell    -  Brass, Community Bands and School Choirs

John Witchell has worked with choirs and orchestras throughout his professional life. He has di-rected the music in schools in Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire and was at Northampton School for Boys when it became comprehensive. For fifteen years he was Head of Hertfordshire Music Service and County Adviser for Music and, more recently Chief Executive of the Federation of Music Services. He now accompanies various choirs on piano and organ, and plays the double bass for fun!

 Luan Shaw MA PgDip BA(Hons) ABSM(P) ABSM(T) HonBC PgCert(LTHE) FHEA    -  Woodwind

Luan has been an adjudicator member of the British and International Federation of Festivals since 2001.

Her portfolio career spans 25+ years, involving solo, orchestral, and chamber music performance, recording for television and radio, instrumental, classroom and ensemble teaching and workshop facilitation.  For the past decade Luan has worked as an ABRSM Diploma examiner and as Co-principal Clarinet with Orchestra of the Swan.

Luan is Senior Lecturer at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where her roles are Head of Pedagogy, Professional Performance Course Director and Assistant Director of Postgraduate Studies.  She was awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.


Joel Barford    -  We welcome Joel as our Percussion Adjudicator