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Who Are We?

Emma Cunliffe
Outreach Programmes Manager

Emma originally trained as a secondary school Music teacher, going on to be Head of Music at a large comprehensive. From there she went on to work at Huddersfield University, the BBC Philharmonic and The Bridgewater Hall in community music and music outreach roles, as well as working with many other arts organisations as a freelance project manager and consultant. Having studied at Chetham’s as a student, she couldn’t keep away and came back full circle to work here in 2010.

Emma lives in the Greater Manchester area with her husband and two young children and spends her spare time playing the bassoon, cooking, reading, swimming and trying valiantly (but in vain) to keep the house tidy.

Sarah Heard
Senior Outreach Programmes Coordinator

Sarah grew up in rural north Devon on a farm.  Her love of music led her to study the flute at the University of Southampton and from there she worked for Mark Warner in Kos, Greece and also for P & O Cruises on the Oceana and Arcadia.  Back on dry land, Sarah spent twelve years in Hampshire where she set up community ensembles Saxophony and Funky Flute Club as well as managing workshops for flute and saxophone players.  She helped curate the Musical A to Z for the Cultural Olympiad in 2012, bringing a Hip Hop orchestra to West Quay Shopping Centre and a massed Saxophone and Xylophone ensemble to the Turner Sims.  She was an ensemble leader and taught the flute for Hampshire Music Service while working for Winchester Cathedral and Winchester Festival facilitating their busy concerts and events programme.  Always keen to perform and support the performing arts Sarah has played for many amateur musical productions, over 80 so far!
Sarah moved to Manchester in June 2019 to work at Chetham’s School of Music as Concerts Manager.  She was delighted to join the Outreach team in November 2019 and began work for the Royal Opera House in their Learning & Participation department in April 2020.  Sarah enjoys travelling and photography, often at the same time, as well as exploring the beautiful Peak District.

Sarah Atter
Workshop Leader and Animateur

Sarah Atter is a Manchester-based musician with extensive experience of devising and delivering education and community projects, alongside student and teacher training, large-scale residencies and consultancy work. She works across a variety of fields including music in healthcare, music in the community, music in education, music in criminal justice and collaborative cross-art form projects.

Sarah specialises in music facilitation and music engagement with vulnerable, challenging and hard-to-reach groups, and works both as an independent practitioner and in partnership with organisations including Manchester International Festival, Manchester Camerata, Streetwise Opera, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Music in Prisons.
As the Creative Director of Tram Tracks – a creative composition project conceived by Sarah and delivered in partnership with the Bridgewater Hall – Sarah worked with a team of practitioners and musicians, as well as nearly 100 community and education groups across Greater Manchester to write a song for every stop on the tram network. These can all be found on Youtube!

Sarah also lectures on the Participatory Music course at The University of Manchester and works at the RNCM as one of the Creative Project mentors for students. She designs and delivers artist development training for TiPP, Music in Hospitals and Care and Chetham’s School of Music. Sarah also inspires the next generation by teaching flute players of all ages across Greater Manchester.

As a flautist, Sarah works across the country in orchestras and chamber ensembles. She has performed at the Houses of Parliament as well as being filmed for the Real Housewives of Cheshire!

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys cooking (and eating), trying to do DIY and having lots of sleep!

Gemma Ashcroft
Workshop Leader and Animateur

Gemma studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity Laban and now leads a varied musical life as a freelance double bassist.

She is passionate about music education, working with a variety of organisations across the country to deliver music programmes and creative workshops, including the Hallé Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, TiPP and the RNCM.

Gemma teaches the double bass at Chetham’s where she also works with the youngest string ensemble, Violetta. She teaches whole-class strings for Wigan Music service and is the double bass specialist at two independent schools in Greater Manchester. She is proud to be on the tutor team for the National Children’s Orchestras, Greater Manchester Youth String Orchestra and NLMS Summer School.

As musician-in-residence at Martenscroft Nursery School, Gemma works with over 100 children a week in an ongoing music programme, as well as delivering staff training and regular parent and child music sessions in the community.

Alongside her teaching and workshop leading Gemma has enjoyed performing with many of the UK’s top orchestras and recording artists including the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sting, and Russell Watson.

Gemma is a keen scuba diver and open water swimmer, and she likes to spend her time out of the water attempting overly complex recipes and devouring good books!