Sam Laughton, Chair

Sam grew up in Penn and now lives in Speen with his wife Kate and their four children, all of whom are budding young musicians. As well as his day-job as a barrister, Sam is a semi-professional musician. He conducts the Elysian Singers in London and the Trinity Camerata in Bicester, as well as being a busy local organist. He is delighted to have been present from the birth of CMA, and looks forward to continuing to spread musical excellence to the widest possible number of young people.

Anne-Marie Southall

Anne-Marie is a parent of two music-loving children and has lived in the High Wycombe area for almost 30 years. She is the Managing Director of a Strategy Management Consultancy, and specialises in helping people in organisations to change. In being one of the Chiltern Music Academy’s first trustees, she commented that she is “Really looking forward to helping create a new musical community in the Chilterns. Over the last ten years I have seen the benefits for so many young people of playing and singing in high quality groups led by the kind of inspirational teachers we will have at the CMA. Kids who play music just seem happier somehow!”

Alex King

In her youth, Alex benefitted from local music education and she still takes an active part in local music making, being a member of Wycombe Sinfonia and Wycombe Chamber Choir, and a recorder teacher in schools. She is mother to four musical children, and, although having no tiger DNA, would fight tooth and nail for their opportunities. Cutting her teeth in the pharmaceutical industry, Alex now devotes her time to her flourishing children and to supporting worthwhile organisations in the area. She puts CMA at the top of that list, and is a passionate ambassador of this burgeoning community creation.

Hilary Nohavicka

Hilary was involved in primary education for over 30 years. She is mother of three girls who all benefitted from the excellent music provision in the Wycombe area. Although they have gone on to do different things, enjoyment of and participation in music continues to be an important part of all their lives. As both parent and teacher, Hilary has seen the many benefits musical activities bring to children of all ages and abilities in terms of their academic, social and emotional development. She is delighted to be part of the exciting and vibrant community of CMA and will work hard to support the staff and students to maximize opportunities for all.

Andrew Connolly

Andrew’s career in classical music management, including at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Welsh National Opera, culminated as Director of the BBC Concert Orchestra. He has twice been a Director of the Association of British Orchestras and is now on the board of  EM Records. Growing up in South Wales, Andrew received free instrumental tuition and played French Horn in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. He has lived in South Bucks since 1997 and is determined to ensure that local youngsters can access excellent musical opportunities. In his spare time Andrew plays for Little Missenden Misfits and Buckinghamshire County Over 60s cricket teams, attends many concerts and enjoys any excuse to study a map.

Amir Jafri

Amir’s love for music started as a child when he received formal training for Indian semi-classical music and ghazals. He enjoys singing at private musical sittings and recitals. He has two children currently learning music at CMA. A medical doctor by training, Amir spent most of his professional life running businesses of leading multinational Pharmaceuticals and Life Science corporations regionally and globally. He is currently involved with global healthcare and international education, and has a successful track record of business turnarounds, start-ups and divestments. Amir enjoys playing cricket and golf, and has a special corner in his heart for fine culinary experiences.

Jo Smart, Treasurer

Jo is passionate about helping children enjoy music, after spending her youth playing clarinet, oboe and saxophone with the Shropshire County School of Music and as many local bands and orchestras as her long-suffering parents could shuttle to.  She has two musical sons with the youngest an enthusiastic member of CMA, and a less musical springer spaniel.  Jo chairs the board of a cancer diagnostics company and is a director and adviser to life sciences companies, investors and government medical innovation funding panels. Jo is also a primary school governor and enjoys an occasional trail run and bike ride.

Julia Bentley-Dawkes

A graduate of Leeds College of Music, Julia met her husband Jon when working at Dawkes Music. A certified teacher of the British Suzuki Music Association, she has taught and performed at workshops and summer schools as well as venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, The Royal Albert Hall and St John Smiths Square. Born into a musical family, Julia is passionate about enabling children to experience live music and musical instruments. She launched Concertini family-friendly live music events in 2015, producing over 100 concerts and introducing children to styles of music as diverse as Baroque to Bluegrass. Julia has two children who enjoy the musical opportunities provided by CMA.