Dr Kathleen McGuire

Conductor, Composer and Artistic Director

Dr Kathleen McGuire is an award-winning Melbourne-born conductor, composer and educator with a career spanning more than three decades making music in six countries, directing orchestras, choirs, ballet, opera and musical theatre at such prestigious venues as the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

Kathleen's earned qualifications in music and education include a Bachelor of Music in composition from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, a Graduate Diploma of Education from Monash University, a Graduate Diploma in Music (conducting) from the Victorian College of the Arts, a Master of Music degree in conducting (with Distinction) from the University of Surrey (Guildford, UK) and a doctorate in conducting from the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA). She also holds two certificates in tertiary education.

While based for two decades in the United States, Kathleen led the 200 voice San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the Community Women's Orchestra, and in 2010, encouraged and inspired by Jonathon Welch, she founded Singers of the Street: a choir of San Franciscans affected by homelessness. Recognising her contributions, "Kathleen McGuire Day" was designated twice by San Francisco mayors and she received official recognitions from the California State Legislature and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Kathleen has also received awards from The American Prize and she is a Rotary International Ambassadorial Fellow. In addition to her Upbeat Arts duties, Kathleen now serves as Director of Music at Queen's College The University of Melbourne, teaches music at Brunswick Secondary College, and works as a freelance composer and arranger.


Kerry Gerraty

Musical Director

With a lifelong love of music, theatre and performance, Kerry has a background in classical piano, choral music and arts event management. Utilising her wide range of skills she has been working in choirs since 2010 and has been with the Upbeat Arts/School of Hard Knocks since its inception

Kerry is an engaging Musical Director who loves to connect with people from all types of backgrounds and experience and share her passion for music. In addition to her work around Melbourne, her understanding of the needs of 'all-abilities' singers saw her receive a 2017 Regional Arts Grant enabling her travel to Far North Queensland to run choral workshops and assist in the creation of an all-abilities project choir Voices of Gold. Kerry is also a highly regarded Choral Accompanist having worked with numerous choirs and choral events around Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

Since 2011, Kerry has worked with Short Black Opera Company - Australia's National Indigenous Opera Company. Her role as Manager of the Dhungala Children's Choir (DCC) sees her working with indigenous youth performers from all over the country during touring and special events managing all aspects of the rehearsal and performance period. Events have included the opening of MPavilion, recording and performing with Archie Roach and SBO Intensives (various 3 day workshop events). 

Kerry also has a passion for youth performance. In addition to running a regular programme at Donvale Primary School, recent engagements have been with the Australian Children's Choir and the youth chorus of More Than Opera's "Peace A Cantata for John Monash" at Hamer Hall. She has been selected as one of the conductors of the 1300-voice Massed Choir for the Victorian State Schools Spectacular for the past two years. When she's not busy running choirs, Kerry sings with Melbourne-based "Choristry".


Levi McGrath

Social Justice Musician

Levi McGrath is committed to music and social justice and he wants to motivate and inspire a new generation of people to stand up and make a difference.  
Levi is passionate about bringing music to disadvantaged and isolated young people.
He is currently involved in two projects... Instruments for The Outback engaging with, and providing opportunities for young indigenous musicians to perform, record and be mentored by professional musicians, and Instruments for Ethiopia a similar project delivering traditional instruments and funding for teaching those instruments to homeless and marginalised street children in Addis Ababa.

Levi began his professional music career in 2007 with the release of his debut album MOVE. In 2009 Levi spent 6 months living in Uganda working with former child soldiers, this led to his critically acclaimed album CHILDREN OF WAR rich in passion for social change and heart-rending stories of suffering, hope and dignity.

Levi's third studio album COME HOME continues with his powerful mix of musical storytelling and passion for social change. Levi bought an exciting new sound to COME HOME "I wanted to create an up-beat, catchy record that would grab people's attention and inspire them at the same time", says Levi.

Warren Wills

Composer, Musical Director

Warren Wills is a composer, musical director, and performer who has worked with many of the world's best cabaret, opera, jazz and classical artists. One of the most versatile and gifted musicians on the international scene, he has authored 8 original operas, 10 musicals, 13 children's musicals, 8 albums, 5 major orchestral works and music direction credits on more than 50 productions.
Warren has played and composed for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), as well as Woody Allen in New York City , and has toured extensively in Europe, Asia and the US, with appearances on MTV in the Middle East. Warren was awarded the prestigious Best Musical, Carling London Award, and nominated for Critics Circle Award, Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, finalist for the Vivian Ellis Awards, Evening Standard and Theatre Management Association (TMA) Award for Best Composer, best musical.

Warren is convinced that music education is a fantastic catalyst for touching hearts and breaking down barriers. He receives many invitations from Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK to give master-classes with adults and children, and has a special interest in inclusive music education for children with special needs. He dedicates much of his time in London working with the Haringey Shed Theatre Company which helps North London's troubled teenagers, as well as those physically, intellectually and socially disadvantaged, to swap a life of boredom, violence and abuse for singing, dancing and acting in large scale music productions.

Andy Payne

Teacher, Playwright, Poet

Andy Payne is a teacher, playwright, poet and occasional singer who is passionate about community involvement in the arts. Trained originally at the Guildhall in London, he has written and directed projects for schools, youth and community groups in the UK and Australia.

Part of the original team that conceived the Hard Knocks project, Andy wrote and delivered the training for the first cohort of staff, as well as teaching the pilot programmes in Drama and Creative Writing. Andy claims to have no spare time whatsoever since he formally retired, but continues to support the work of Upbeat Arts by generously donating his time and expertise.

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