...in fact we're lovely (if we do say so ourselves!) and when you become part of our choir family you'll meet lots of interesting, friendly, welcoming people. Sometimes though it's nice to put a face to a name, so here are a few you might like to know.
Pleased to meet you!
We’re a friendly bunch...
Jon Szunko - Musical Director
Jon started his journey with Northern Proud voices as an enthusiastic bass. A few years later and he is delighted to take on the role of musical director. He plays woodwind, dabbles on the piano, but his real passion lies in arranging, composing and, of course, directing. A keen traveller Jon has based his singing mantra on a trip to Fiji. After spending time living on a tiny island in the South Pacific he has seen how a few songs and a guitar can bring a community together. The locals there could not understand why the Brits would refuse to sing, if they would not refuse to speak. We all have voices and should have the courage to use them! Jon looks forward to the opportunity to help build upon the success of Northern Proud Voices and to do his bit, with the rest of the choir, to help bring the LGBTQI+ community together.
Andrew Richardson - Accompanist
Northern Proud Voices had their first rehearsal on Friday 25th March 2011 and Andrew Richardson played piano for us. He's been with us from the very beginning and we're happy to tell you that eight years later he's still supporting choir as a singing tutor and accompanist. Andrew said, "I have very much enjoyed accompanying Northern Proud Voices and watching them grow and evolve as a choir." He lives in South Shields and works as a peripatetic pianist for many Primary Schools in the South Tyneside area. He has written several musicals for children which have been performed all around the borough. Andrew is also the resident pianist for popular singing group 'Encore' who perform at the Customs House twice a year. He loves all styles of music but admittedly his favourite genre is musical theatre.
Thiago Monteiro - Second Musical Director
Thiago has joint NPV as a tenor in 2018, and is now acting as second MD in the choir.
Born in a Christian family and having spent his entire childhood and adolescence going to church, Thiago started his musicality journey early. At the age of 12, he joined the musical team as keyboard player for the teens band, becoming main keyboard player / pianist at the age of 17, by when he had also had classes of guitar and drums. By the age of 18, as he started his graduation in Production Engineering at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, he joined Musicanto Music School in Niterói - RJ, Brazil, for formal singing lessons, and graduated as a singing teacher by the age of 20, following the exclusive school's methodology, which focused on vocal health. By the age of 22, Thiago had already worked as a singing teacher at the same school for 2 years, and acted as a focal point in development of out-of-tune students. At that same time, he took the role of musical leader at the church, being responsible for vocal and instrumental arrangements and rehearsals, music theory training and repertoire decisions, while still acting as keyboard player and soloist singer. By the age of 25, the church environment no longer made sense to him, as he came out as gay, and he focused on his Engineering career, though never leaving the appreciation and love for music behind.
Our hard working committee are passionate about Northern Proud Voices and are dedicated to making sure we are a vibrant, sustainable community choir. The committee are very approachable and welcome anyone's input and suggestions from all.
Kathleen MacDonald - Chair
Kath came along to one of the very first NPV rehearsal back in 2011. The choir has been an important part of her life ever since and she looks forward to rehearsals every week. The community and friendly spirit of the choir has seen her through some challenging times and gave her a reason to get back into the swing of things. During her 9 years with the choir she has been an ordinary committee member, secretary and chair. She is now Chair and looks forward to a bright future with NPV reaching new heights.
Gavin Hennessey - Treasurer
Gavin is a qualified accountant having worked in private
practice as well as in industry for over 30 years! He joined NPV some 4 years ago and agreed to act as the choir's independent examiner (of its annual accounts) up until last year, when he was then appointed as Treasurer. Gavin's main job is as Head of Finance and Operations for a local property company. Before joining NPV, Gavin used to be a member of Whitley Bay Operatic Society and Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society where he performed on stage in a number of musicals including Oliver, The Boyfriend, Fiddler on the Roof and Singing in the Rain. He was also in 42nd Street despite the fact he cannot dance!!
Andrea Routledge Colledge - Secretary
Andrea was persuaded to come along to choir by a work colleague and was hooked straight away. This was 4 years ago and since then has made great friends and enjoys performing with them. The weekly practice provides a respite from the stress of 'real life' and is the highlight of the week. She has taken the role of Secretary.
Megan Towler - general committee member
She joined Northern Proud Voices around a year and a half ago, and till this day it is the best thing she's ever done! She always wanted to be a part of a LGBT group but never had the confidence to go alone and join anywhere! So when her friend Rachel told her to come along she was more than excited to say the least!
Choir is so important to her, the people there are more like an extended family than friends. Any chance she gets to perform she's there! Thursday is now the highlight of her week and something she looks forward to all the time! Which is also great as it helps her look forward to the weekend.
She's always enjoyed singing, even as a child she'd always be the one singing ‘That’s Amore’ or anything Engelbert Humperdinck; which shocks people to this day that she even knows who he is!
To be part of such a wonderful group is one thing, and for that she is so lucky and grateful, but to also have the chance to work behind the scenes for the group would be amazing! Megan is a bubbly, friendly individual that never fails to have a smile on her face even at the toughest of times. Being part of the committee, she feels she would be able to bring new fresh ideas to the table and to try and help the choir grow. She would be able to connect with the younger generation and hopefully encourage more people to join us in singing! She'll always try her hardest to carry on the amazing work done by the previous committee members.
Michael Edwards - general committee member
Michael joined NPV in December 2019 after moving from Nottingham to Newcastle in the same month - Michael has over 22 years of experience and involvement with Choir’s both traditional and contemporary; His roles have included, singing in choirs, being a Musical Director and also as a lead musician playing 7 different instruments within various contexts.
Michael has had experience of launching choir’s from scratch and also recovering Choirs from collapse and along those journey’s he has has taught singing and music to people of all ages in order to prepare them for performing.
Michael is delighted to be joining the committee and passionate about helping NVP in delivering Hand in Hand: Newcastle 2022.
Vicky Barton - general committee member
Vicky was raised in the posh part of Sunderland, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron, in a mahoosive house crowded with animals, plus opera singers and ballet dancers a lot of the time (her favourite adolescent anecdote concerns a costume designer from decades back showing up out of the blue with his Spanish waiter boyfriend, a Spanish accountant and HER girlfriend in tow. That was a fun weekend). She somehow managed to pass enough exams to go to uni (twice!) and work in Barcelona as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (if you ever meet any very sweary Spaniards, it’s all her fault)! In most places Vicky has lived she has joined a singing group of some kind; one in Barcelona was called The Brown Virgins (She wasn’t!) - happy days. Joining NPV was the best thing she ever did. Vicky now works in mental health and spends her time reading, doing cryptic crosswords and trying to improve her prowess as a pianist. She very occasionally attempts to arrange songs, one of which the lovely Jon once tried out at a rehearsal. She looks forward to working with the other lovely committee members on getting HiH on the road.
Chloe Wright - general committee member
Chloe joined Northern Proud Voices in September 2019 after being brought along by a friend. Deciding to join was the best decision she's ever made as she has met the most wonderful people who she otherwise would’ve never crossed paths with!! Her love of music combined with all things rainbow and glitter makes her wonder why she didn’t join sooner. Working in the labs of a hospital can be exhausting at times so having something to look forward to every Thursday evening makes everything so much better (it‘s the highlight of her week!!) so being involved in choir as a committee member to have an even bigger input on the thing she loves the most is an added bonus.