CLIFF VAN TONDER BCAa
Cliff moved to England from South Africa in 2004, bringing with him 25 years experience of directing and conducting choirs all over Southern Africa. Settling in Cobham, he realised that there was a lack of choirs accessible to those with no choral or musical experience. In 2005 he established Elmbridge Choir, an affordable, inclusive, non-audition community choir, giving people, regardless of background or musical experience, the opportunity to enjoy choral singing and performance, whilst giving something back to the community.
Fast forward 13 years, Surrey Music (formerly Elmbridge Music), founded and directed by Cliff has raised more than £175,000 for charity, has created a community big band, supported a youth band and created weekly music lessons for adults with learning disabilities.
Keen to support local music and talent, Cliff established a music grants scheme, which for four years awarded grants totalling £14,000 for musical initiatives – from mother and baby music classes, to rock guitar tuition for a talented teenager and drum lessons for a 70-year-old.
Exceptionally and surprisingly, Cliff has had no formal music training and is entirely self-taught and although he moved to East Sussex five years ago, continues the weekly 120-mile round trip to Cobham to take rehearsal.
Nominated by: Debbie Groves