What is MDBrunch?
MDBrunch is a skills sharing, training, networking and support organisation for people who make singing happen (MDs). Through events we aim to both create a community for this often lonely profession and also promote the vital health and wellbeing work that we do for the communities around us and the impact it has. Having grown over the last 6 years, MDBrunch now has a steering group led by Mel Field (Events Director) and Naveen Arles BCA (Founding Director).
MD (Musical Director), or, People who make singing happen: vocal leaders, choral directors, MDs, conductors, singing teachers, animateurs and all the people who have somehow been tricked into leading their school choir etc
Brunch = a meal that has all the qualities of being chilled out and so cool people don’t even have to pretend to decide which meal they’re having. A level or freedom of mind that is mostly always missing from MDs.
Meet the team
Naveen Arles BCA
Naveen Arles BCA FRSA, has established himself as an energetic and inspirational vocal leader and animateur. His 36 years in music incorporates two and a half decades of creating and running singing groups of all ages and abilities.
Nav's ability to motivate people to try music and train any group of people has meant he has led choirs with all aspects of society. Using this experience, Nav creates and delivers workshops and self development sessions in senior management training courses, with wellbeing support groups and in prisons.
Nav currently directs several diverse vocal groups. NewYVC, the leading youth choir in Newham, is the delivering partner in 'Newham Harmony' a vocal project empowering youth in 30 schools over 3 years 2018-2021 funded by Youth Music and Newham Music. Grand Union Voices, the project based vocal unit of the acclaimed 30 year old world music fusion jazz big band, Grand Union Orchestra. Liberty Choirs in prisons and Sing With Ovacome which supports women and their support networks who have been affected by ovarian cancer. The last 10 years saw him grow the London International Gospel Choir into a 150 member, 3 rehearsal per week performance choir now seen regularly on all UK broadcast formats.
He is very excited to have received an Artist Teacher certificate from the CME Institute, trained under Dr Doreen Rao, Mandy Miller and Jane Wheeler. Nav now joins the UK faculty training other choir directors which he furthers through his work having founded and developing 'MD Brunch', a training and networking meeting hub for musical directors to build community and their skills in this 'lonely' profession.
All these exciting projects mean Nav regularly conducts on the capital's major stages and at a range of venues and events from the House of Commons to the pitch at Twickenham during the Rugby World-Cup semi-finals. Thanks to creating groups of singers so quickly and efficiently Nav has provided vocal groups to the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, BBC, ITV, Endemol, Thames, Tuesday's Child, Open Mike Productions and from conferences and retail events to studio sessions.
Nav's strong belief in inclusion, equality and social justice has led him to work with homelessness and rehabilitation centres, and he co-founded Sanctuary Voices for refugees and asylum seekers. As someone who relishes the opportunity and responsibility to inspire the next generation of music makers, Nav is proud to have served four years as Artistic Director for the Hertfordshire and Ware primary schools music festival, with over 500 young people annually. He has also facilitated vocal workshops for Music For Youth and worked with ARK Schools.
Nav studied piano with Murray McLachlan and Richard Beauchamp and gained valuable experience from staging musicals between Edinburgh and London. He later created the role of Musical Director at London Metropolitan University, founding all extra-curricular musical activity there. Sponsorship from the Southbank Centre's Voicelab initiative helped him further his conductor training beginning his journey in CME Institute training.
Marta Mathea Radwan is a conductor, composer, arranger, award-winning vocalist, music director, and workshop leader. She has over 30 years experience on stage and in the music industry. She works internationally, in Poland, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
As a conductor she has a wide education both from classical F. Chopin University of Music in Warsaw (MA in choir conducting) as well as rhythmic course at The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus/Aalborg in Denmark (diploma line in rhythmic choir conducting). Currently she is a doctoral student at the F.Chopin University of Music writing a PhD dissertation on the topic of jazz choir conducting.
Marta also gained a qualification as a Dalcroze Eurhythmics teacher (6-years course at J. Elsner Music High School in Warsaw) and has a practical experience with this method both in Poland and the UK. Currently she is working on a program for conductors based on Dalcroze philosophy and exercises.
Her versatility shows in the variety of roles and musical styles she has assumed as a musician. Marta has worked in studio recording and live stage performance for over 30 years, as a singer, conductor, and music director. She made her first recorded radio performance in 1984, and has worked in live & recorded TV and radio constantly since then.
She has worked as music director and performer for both spoken and singing voice over, and localisation dubbing of TV.
She has composed and arranged for jazz ensembles, choirs, contemporary ballet, and commercial advertising. She has led over a dozen choirs composed of 4 to 100 singers, and also led big band and orchestras. Marta was co-founder of “Korskolen”, the evening music school in Copenhagen, where she was head teacher and music director.
She is a leader of several music projects in London including jazz choir Alle Choir London, London Open Choir, Offbeat Choir, and Scandinavian Singing Club, and regularly leads workshops in the UK and Poland.
Ben Sawyer is a dynamic choral conductor, vocal tutor and singer. Since leaving classroom teaching in 2012, he has built a busy schedule conducting a number of choirs on a regular basis. He has been director of award-winning chamber choir, The Oriel Singers since February 2015, having led Hanley Voices and Tyndale Choral Society from 2012 and 2013 respectively. In June 2018, Ben directed a major collaborative performance of Jonathan Dove’s ‘For an Unknown Soldier’ in Tewkesbury Abbey. He was also Assistant Conductor for Cheltenham Festival’s production of Benjamin Britten’s community opera, ‘Noye’s Fludde’ in July 2013. He leads popular workshops and masterclasses, including for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and at the UK Choir Festival, and is complimented for his good-humoured, informative and engaging sessions. Ben was a judge on the Sky One talent show, ‘Sing: Ultimate A Cappella’. Ben co-directs Gloucestershire Youth Choir, and in January 2019 he founded Gloucestershire Boys’ Choir. In July 2019, Ben conducted ‘The Burning Boy’, a community opera by Stephen McNeff as part of the Three Choirs Festival 2019.
Aside from conducting, Ben sings countertenor. He is a member of the international award winning male voice a cappella group, The Songmen. With The Songmen, he has toured America, China, much of Europe and the UK. He is the group’s composer-in-residence and has had a number of his compositions and arrangements played on national radio. Ben is an experienced consort and cathedral singer: he has been a lay clerk at Birmingham and Gloucester Cathedrals and sings with Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, as well as being in demand as a countertenor soloist. Every summer, he enjoys singing in the Edington Festival of Music in the Liturgy.
As an educator, Ben is vocal tutor to the choristers of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum at Dean Close Preparatory School, including Cassian Pichler-Roca, BBC Young Chorister of the Year 2019. He teaches singing at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, including singers that have gained Choral Scholarships to King’s College, Cambridge and Merton College, Oxford. Ben is in demand as a private singing tutor and directs 'Close Harmony' and the new ‘Viri Chorum’ male voice ensemble at Dean Close School.
Ben is grateful to Cheltenham Arts Council for awarding him the ‘Joyner Cup’ in February 2019 for his contribution to the cultural life of Cheltenham.
Ben lives in Tewkesbury with his wife Catherine, his teenage stepson, and five-year-old
Sophie, who is generally happy to sing along whenever Daddy practises.
Mel Field has been running primary school choirs for seven years, building the numbers from a 12 to a 60 strong choir, leading and performing with them at various events including the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. Mel has workshopped with the likes of Pete Churchill (Guildhall/Royal College of Music), Omari Carter (Lead dancer in STOMP) and has performed on stage at The O2 with Hugh Jackman, Take That and Lulu (London dates of their world tours) and the BBC Proms. Mel’s background incorporates thirty years of stage productions, including lead roles in “Fame”, “Pirates of Penzance”, “Moby Dick” and “Slice of Saturday Night”. She has also performed as the Princess in many Pantomimes – Oh yes she has! Mel has extensive experience in event organising for major fundraising organisations and is very much looking forward to working on this positive project – to unite, motivate and encourage people to #GetSinging for their health & well-being.
Claire has been a member of La La Choirs since 2011, having previously sung in choirs through school and university. In 2012, she helped Sam with the organisation of a gala concert at the Great Hall in Exeter and since then has helped with all La La's big charity concerts.