Lancashire Choir of the Year

Lancashire Choir of the Year

Meet the judges

Saphena Aziz


Saphena Aziz - Director of Inclusion at Curious Minds

Saphena Aziz has developed contemporary choirs for over 25 years in schools, colleges, arts organisations, businesses and the commercial music industry. Highlights include working with, Gareth Malone on The Choir series, creating BBC Radio Drama soundtracks and performances for The Barbican, The Royal Festival Hall, the V&A and The Tate.

Her day job is Director of Inclusion for Curious Minds, an arts education charity passionate about breaking down the barriers that prevent children and young people from experiencing great arts and culture. 


Loz Kaye


Loz Kaye, Director of Lancashire County of Song

Loz Kaye has worked extensively as a Choir Leader, Musical Director, Composer and Vocal Teacher, and is Director of Lancashire County of Song. His music has been heard in performances all the way from Nashville, Tennessee to Okinawa, Japan. He has worked with many Lancashire arts organisations notably Horse and Bamboo and More Music. Theatre music credits include Trestle Theatre, The Royal and Derngate Northampton, Dark Horse and Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. Recent projects include large scale participatory works “The Last Rose” for Encounter Festival, and “River Runs” commissioned by Lancaster Arts, funded by Historic England.

He has taught widely, and is former leader of music programmes at GITIS Scandinavia Drama School in Aarhus, Denmark. He is a passionate advocate of the public power of song, winning multiple awards. Currently he is Musical Director of Hope Mill Community Choir and Director of Sound for Separate Doors Theatre Company.

John Garrett

John Garrett, Conductor

Having graduated from Huddersfield as a singer and pianist, John went on to study singing privately with the late Patrick McGuigan (RNCM).

He combined a career of teaching in secondary schools with his private practice and continued to sing as a soloist with many choral societies in the North of England. Several of his singing students have gone on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

John has been conducting the Pendle Ladies' Choir (formerly Nelson Civic ladies), winners of The Lancashire Choir of the Year 2023 for 21 years, as well as other societies and also directs the Burnley Community Choir.

He has composed several pieces of choral music for Pendle ladies and has written music for several TV documentaries including ‘The Jury Room,’ for CBS and ‘Nurses who kill,’ for UK Really TV.

“ I am thrilled to be judging this year’s competition and look forward to hearing all the choirs perform.”

Council leader, County Councillor Phillippa Williamson

County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, a Lancastrian, was born and brought up in Poulton-le Fylde and following a career in finance and the civil service, entered politics in May 2017 when she was elected to represent Lancaster Rural North - the County Council’s northern most outpost - where she has lived for over 25 years. Phillippa was re-elected to the County Council in May 2021 when she became Leader of the Council.

Music has been a significant part of Philippa’s life, playing the piano and flute from a young age and competing in local music festivals.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be involved in Lancashire’s Choir of the Year, celebrating the power of music and the voice to bring us all together."