STAFF BIOGRAPHIES

Susan Gilmartin

Queensland Operations Manager

Susan has a wealth of experience in project, event, travel and volunteer management, and is proud to have been involved with Upbeat Arts since the launch of the first choir in 2014.

Born in Bundaberg, Susan studied piano, dance and voice and was involved in the local theatre company before leaving Bundaberg.

Alongside her professional knowledge, is this lifetime passion for and involvement in the arts through singing and performance. This combination of skills lends itself perfectly to the role of Queensland Operations Manager of Upbeat Arts.

Before working for Upbeat Arts, a career highlight for Susan was working at World Expo 88, where she played a pivotal role in the planning and development of events at the Piazza venue. World Expo 88 was an iconic Australian event and the Piazza itself showcased 10 – 12 events each day for 180 days!

At Upbeat Arts, her work entails managing the day to day operations of the business. As well as coordinating the venues, staff, members and volunteers, and events; she’s responsible for all ‘behind the scenes’ duties to ensure the business is managed effectively, and is set up for further growth and development. She loves the collaboration between all involved to ensure the success of the Queensland programs.

 

Melissa Gill

Conductor - Brisbane Choirs

Melissa Gill is a versatile singer, and passionate choral conductor with an undergraduate degree in Jazz and Popular Voice from Queensland University of Technology and a classical singing certification from Trinity College, London.

Melissa has been with Upbeat Arts since the launch of our first choir in Brisbane in 2014, so brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to the work we do. She also conducts the North Brisbane Choir which launched in 2022.

Melissa’s career includes performances as a featured soloist in music festivals (Brisbane Biennial, Brisbane Jazz and Blues), in music theatre (Into the Woods Moonlight Theatre, Stepmother / Baker’s Wife cover, Pirates of Penzance Deseret Theatre, Edith), and in concert (Gospel at the Symphony, Queensland Symphony Orchestra). Melissa has sung everything from Jazz with Australian icon James Morrison, to gospel with American conductors Isaiah Jackson and the Reverend Alvin Paris III, and the soprano solo in the Australian premiere of British composer Havergal Brian’s ‘Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, The Gothic’ under the baton of John Curro AM MBE. Melissa has also lent her voice to the Queensland Ballet’s ‘King Arthur and the tales of Camelot’ and the soundtracks for award winning Australian playwright Sven Swenson’s works ‘A Night in the She-Devil’s Salon’ and ‘The Siren’s Kiss’.

In recent years Melissa has become a passionate advocate for community choral singing. Alongside working with Upbeat Arts, Melissa has launched Sing Sing Sing, a choir for people living with dementia, operating in Bulimba and Redlands.

Richard Thayil

Accompanist - Brisbane Choirs

Richard Thayil, Melbourne born, Brisbane freelance multi-instrumentalist, composer/arranger, music educator and accompanist.

Richard is our resident accompanist for both Brisbane choirs and has a long history with Upbeat Arts. Richard studied the Piano, Saxophone and Trombone in his schooling years in Melbourne.

He has been accompanying since 1993 and began working professionally as a performing musician, composer/arranger and music educator in 1997.  Richard moved to Brisbane in 1999, completed a Bachelor of Music in composition at QUT.  He teaches multi instrumental music in primary and high schools and currently lectures in aural studies and arranging at QUT.  Richard is often called upon as a brass and woodwind clinician.  As a conductor he has been MD for various musicals and shows – Les Misérables, Fiddler on the Roof and other local productions.  Richard enjoys regularly performing locally, nationally and internationally.  He loves to be in the studio recording music for various artists. Richard’s eclectic skill set has afforded him the privilege of working with many and varied artists, such as James Morrison, Pete Murray and Gerry Connelly. He is the founder, director and arranger for his big band The Empty Chair Project.  Richard has a deep passion for musicians, especially his three beautiful children.

Claire Christian

Creative Writing Leader

Claire Christian is a storyteller; a writer, theatre maker and facilitator.

Claire teaches our two creative writing programs - one is online only, and the other is face to face, although with an online option.

She has four plays published by Playlab, including Lysa and The Freeborn Dames which debuted at La Boite in 2018. She has had the great joy of directing Michelle Law’s smash hit comedy Single Asian Female since 2017.

Her debut novel Beautiful Mess won the Text Prize in 2016 and was released in 2017. Her second novel It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake, a contemporary adult fiction romance, was released in 2020 through Text Publishing. 

Amelia Harris

Program Facilitator

Amelia - bio to come

Chantal Le Goff

Sunshine Coast Program Leader
Chantal

Chantal is managing our choir program on the Sunshine Coast. Chantal is a skilled project leader and is experienced in business administration, project and relationship management and has lead community support projects in the UK and Australia across a range of sectors including charities, education, finance and engineering. She is personally aware of how uplifting singing can be especially within a supportive environment and

the benefits singing can have to your overall wellbeing, energy and the importance of community and connection with others. She is also a keen advocate for promoting positive mental health and creating a safe nonjudgemental environment where you can feel comfortable to just be yourself.

Chantal is a creative, warm and energetic person with a passion for art, music and more specifically singing. She has loved singing from a young age and has an appreciation for the mental health benefits singing can provide. She has been a member of an acapella choir and has previously trained with the Sydney Philharmonia Choir for a season to perform in the televised Christmas Concert at the Sydney Opera House. 

Chantal moved from the UK two years ago to make the Sunshine Coast her home and she is excited to lead the Upbeat Arts Choir program for the Sunshine Coast Community.

Lincoln Scott

Conductor - Sunshine Coast Choir
Lincoln

Lincoln is the Conductor of the newest Upbeat Arts Choir and he looks forward to leading our new choir members in song.

Lincoln is a highly trained singer, teacher and choral conductor. He has sung from an early age, and believes in the benefits of singing for wellness.

His long list of performance credits including several productions with Opera Australia,

a UK tour of The Pirates of Penzance, a US tour of Die Fledermaus and lead singer onboard the Constellation for Celebrity Cruises, he’s right at home on the stage. 

He was also Musical Director of the Sunshine Coast Choral Society and Noosa Arts Theatre’s production of The Boy from Oz. 

Lincoln is looking forward to working with the Upbeat Arts members and helping them to grow together as a choir, hone their vocal technique and to watching them shine when they take to the stage in performances.

Ally Bing

Accompanist - Sunshine Coast Choir

Ally is the piano accompanist for our newly-formed Sunshine Coast choir and is a dynamic teacher, accompanist, visual artist, songwriter, and musician.

Ally lives in the Hinterland of the Sunshine Coast near Maleny, Queensland. While taught classically on piano 1998 - 2008, her upbringing in the southeast of the United States also informed her taste for Appalachachian folk music

and she enjoys playing clawhammer-style banjo in addition to piano. She completed a Bachelors of Science degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from the Honors College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina in 2012. Ally has taught piano and music lessons in Australia for over ten years, and, like many who immigrate to a new area, also opened a small food business. 

Ally’s joy in life is singing and harmony. She has participated in choirs for most of her life, most recently, Sweet Chilli, an all-women’s a capella choir in Maleny. Ally is well-known locally to the Maleny community for her soulful musical performances, including with her jam band Bizarrely Quartet. 

Ally brings a warm, friendly, and supportive personality, with energy and musical skill, to the team.