Adjudicators for the 2021 Festival

James Kirby — Piano

JAMES KIRBY ARAM, GRSM – Piano – gives recitals throughout the UK including Wigmore Hall, and in Europe and the Far East. He studied at the Moscow Conservatoire and regularly returns to perform in the former Soviet Union. He has given concerto performances with the English and Scottish Chamber Orchestras and Moscow and Khazakh Symphony Orchestras. He has been a member of the Barbican Piano Trio since 1992, which performs at major festivals and concert series throughout Europe and the USA. James enjoys teaching at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Royal Holloway, University of London and Eton College. He is an Honorary Professor of the Rachmaninov Institute in Tambov, Russia, is an examiner for ABRSM and serves on the juries of many international competitions.


Anne Hodgson — Winds

ANNE HODGSON BA, FTCL, LTCL – Winds – has been a BIFF adjudicator since 2009 and is delighted to be adjudicating for Sutton Festival again in 2021.  Anne is based in West Sussex, and has a busy teaching practice at Brighton College, Hurstpierpoint College, Lancing College and Worth School. Whilst performances have been curtailed in 2020/21 she is very much looking forward to planned concerts with Sussex Flutes Flute ensemble and the Mistral Wind quartet, as well as the Howard Blake concerto for flute and strings this autumn. 


Alison Rose — Speech and Drama

ALISON ROSE BA – Speech and Drama – has an acting degree from The Drama Centre and has worked in theatre, film and TV, appearing most recently in ‘Coffee Shops and The Occasional Bah Mitzvah’ and ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’. She has just played Alice in ‘Firebird’ and is about to play Antigone in a new adaptation of ‘Oedipus at Colonus’. Alison is a playwright and screenwriter and has written for Kudos Film and TV, Midwest Media, The BBC and Channel Four/Kismet Films. She is developing a TV series set in 1979 and her play, ‘If You Can’t Say Something Nice’, is in development following rehearsed readings at RADA and The Swiss Church in Covent Garden. She is an examiner for Trinity College London, has been a consultant for the learning disability charity LD Media and has taken Shakespeare into prisons with the London Shakespeare Workshop. She has also mentored for ‘Write to Life’.

Jessica O’Leary — General Instrumental and Strings

JESSICA O’LEARY ARAM, B Mus, Dip CSM – General Instrumental and Strings – is a violinist with a persuasive portfolio career combining performing, teaching, seminar presenting, mentoring string teachers and writing violin tutor books. As principal 2nd violin with OSJ, a regular player with the ROH Orchestra and a former member of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, she has recorded and performed around the world. Passionate about music education, she is Head of Strings at a London Independent School, string consultant and examiner for ABRSM and regularly presents seminars to teachers in the UK and Asia. Her articles are published in international music magazines and her violin tutor books, including the co-authoring of a popular Basics series of beginner string books, are published by Faber. She was recently made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of her services to music.

Ben Costello — Vocal

BEN COSTELLO MA, PGDip, B Mus, FRSA, FISM – Vocal and Choral- is a freelance musical director, singing coach, adjudicator and accompanist, working internationally.  He is also Artistic Director of Thames Concerts, Chorus Master for the Leith Hill Musical Festival, and a lecturer in musical theatre at the University of Portsmouth.  He is a generalist music adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Festivals.  Born and based in London, Ben trained as a pianist, singer and conductor.  A specialist in musical theatre, he has been MD on numerous productions, and has taught at most of the major London performing arts colleges.