Music Adjudicators 2025

Rebecca Dowden

Rebecca trained as a mezzo soprano on the opera course at The Royal Academy of Music. She lives in Hurstpierpoint in West Sussex, teaching at Hurstpierpoint College alongside a large private teaching practice. Her career has included much singing, conducting and stage direction but it is as a vocal coach that she was become widely known. Her singers have developed from West End child actors and National Youth Music Theatre regulars to principal performers in UK & International tours, West End leads, Glyndebourne and Royal Opera soloists. A lover of all styles of singing she has coached Benedictine monks, rock star legends and practically everything in between.

Recent student successes in London’s West End include The Boy in Starlight Express, continued success for Lizzie Bea currently playing Sister Mary Robert and UK Tours for Nate Landskroner playing Clyde in Bonnie & Clyde, and one of her youngest students playing Jeremy in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Rebecca was Chair of the Mid Sussex Competitive Music Festival for many years, she was a resident judge on The One - a South East area talent show for soloists and bands, and has adjudicated for performing arts festivals, local area music competitions and at Shrewsbury School.

Her work as a musical and stage director enhances her practical approach to coaching. Guiding singers to truly know a score and offer guidance on acting through song is vital for success in all styles of music. Rebecca always strives to bring out a performer’s individuality and offer technical solutions to vocal challenges. Enabling singers whether on stage, TV, film, the concert platform or recording studio is her passion.

Joanna Garcia

Joanna gained a First Class Honours Bachelor of Music degree from Manchester University in 1996. She also won the Hargreaves Music Prize and the Sir Thomas Beecham Medal for outstanding achievement throughout the course.

Following this she continued her studies at the RNCM with Paul Jones and Renna Kellaway, obtaining the sought after Professional Performance Diploma and a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance. She won the Granada Chamber Music Award, the Song Cycle Accompanist's Prize, an Allcard Award and an English Speaking Union scholarship to study piano in France with teachers from the Paris Conservatoire.

Joanna has a busy teaching schedule as director of the Garcia Piano School and works with students internationally. She is also a pedagogy coach with her own associate tutors as well as other instrumental teachers and works as freelance staff pianist at the RNCM. Joanna also enjoys working with singers as a coach.


David Hoult

Professor David Hoult has been an adjudicator member of the Federation for over forty years. He studied at Manchester University, the Royal Northern College of Music and Lancaster University, and is a former professional singer and brass player, and regular broadcaster on BBC Radios 3 and 4. He was Principal of Leeds College of Music from 1993–2008, having previously been Head of Music at University College Salford and Director of Music at Cheadle Hulme School, Cheshire.

As a horn player David performed with many UK orchestras, including Sadlers Wells Opera, the Hallé, and the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra. From 1975 until 1990 he was a member of the BBC Northern Singers, giving countless concerts and broadcasts throughout the UK and Europe, and also in Australia, Hong Kong and South East Asia. He has performed at most of the major British festivals, including the Proms, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh and Cheltenham. As a soloist he has sung much of the standard concert and oratorio repertoire, as well as a number of operatic baritone roles, including Figaro in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Leporello in Don Giovanni.

David is well known as an adjudicator of music festivals and competitions, appearing at UK events such as the National Festival of Music for Youth and the Granada Television National School Choirs Competition, and further afield at festivals in Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Trinidad.

Gordon Pearce

Gordon lives near York and trained as a specialist secondary music teacher. He taught in secondary, middle and primary schools before becoming Head of Vocal Studies for a Local Education Authority. He was a specialist singing examiner for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Gordon became a Senior Adviser for Performing Arts for a Local Education Authority and was an Ofsted Inspector for Schools.

He retired from full time employment in 2011 and now teaches privately, adjudicates and examines for the London College of Music, University of West London.

As a postgraduate he studied singing with Lilian Stiles-Allen who was one of the original soloists in Vaughan William's Serenade to Music (Stiles-Allen was the singing teacher of Julie Andrews)

Gordon holds the following degrees and diplomas, BA, MA, PhD, FLCM, LTCL, ARCM. He is a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and the Royal Society of Arts.

Gordon has over 40 years teaching experience and has had students study at all the major music conservatories in the UK with several being awarded entrance scholarships. Some former students have had successful careers performing with various opera companies and in Musical Theatre.