Our Team

Our small, friendly team is dedicated and passionate about NCMA.

James Donaldson, Director, Nelson Centre Musical ArtsJames Donaldson
Director NCMA

James brings to the position a broad range of professional skills including in the fields of management, music education and music performance.

Prior to his role at NCMA, he was Head of Department of Music at Auckland Grammar School, one of the most prestigious secondary schools in the country. Since graduating with a teaching diploma in 2003 has undertaken a wide array of professional learning opportunities across many genres from choral conducting to music technology.

James graduated with a Bachelor of Music (with honours) from the University of Canterbury in 1998 and went on to gain a Master of Music with Distinction in Dissertation from the University of Manchester in 2006.

He worked as a professional cellist for eight years when he performed with orchestras, chamber music and jazz ensembles and contemporary music groups.

James has studied cello under Peter Dixon, Principal Cello BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), Galina Zelinskaia (Ukraine /NZ) and Prof. Dr. Alexander Ivashkin and Natalia Pavlutskaya (Russia/NZ/UK).

James brings proven leadership as well as a great passion for a wide range of music to the position here at NCMA.

Kim McCormack
Deputy Director, Venues Manager

Kim is NCMA's Deputy Director.

Kim has been with NCMA in various roles since the reopening in 2018 (Admin, Bar Manager, Education Manager, Venues Manager, Acting Development and Funding Manager, and Deputy Director).

Among her qualifications, Kim has a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma in Teaching.  She has worked in schools for over 25 years, some of this time as a music teacher (running music programmes, directing school musicals, choirs, ukulele groups). She also plays a few instruments and has experience in musical theatre.

Kim is passionate about delivering quality events and an exceptional education programme at NCMA.

If you have any questions about venue hire or running events at NCMA, please get in touch with Kim at: [email protected]

, staff, Nelson Centre for Musical Arts NCMAClare Monti
Operations Manager

Clare has been involved with NCMA / Nelson School of Music most of her life, playing piano from the age of 6, later violin & percussion. She performs regularly with the Nelson Symphony Orchestra as well as accompanying students of musical theatre. Clare has also worked for the Adam Chamber Music Festival since 2008 and is Chamber Music New Zealand Concert Manager for Nelson.

Clare has a BA and a LTCL in piano.

Clare is responsible for the day to day operations of NCMA.

Myles Payne
Education Manager

Myles has recently joined the team as Education Programme Manager.

Myles has always been involved in Education. He gained a Bachelor of Music degree from Birmingham University and studied viola under the late Gwyn Williams (CBSO). In his 20s, he lived and worked as an English teacher in France, Italy, and Japan before deciding to return to the music world, gaining his postgraduate teaching qualification in 1996. 25 years in the classroom has seen him teach at 3 schools; Thomas Telford City Technology College (UK), Newlands College (NZ) and Nelson College for Girls, where he was Head of Music for 10 years.

Myles is a member of the Nelson Symphony orchestra and has played in many of Nelson’s string groups.  He looks forward to adding his knowledge about music education to the team at NCMA.

Dean St Germain
Education Coordinator, Office Administrator, Contemporary Pathways Coordinator

Dean was born in New Zealand, grew up in Australia, and spent most of the 2000’s in the United States. His musical journey started as a teenager playing the electric bass guitar in local contemporary bands, studying through the jazz outreach program at The Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and eventually playing in music venues and festivals around Australia and across the U.S.A. When Dean is not working at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, he is painting, playing the bass, and spending time with his wife and two kids.


Joel Bolton, piano teacher, flute teacher, NelsonJoel Bolton
Orchestral Pathways Manager

Joel has been associated with the NCMA since 1986, as a respected piano and flute teacher and orchestral conductor. He began his flute studies at 12 and piano studies at 14. After 4 years he passed grade 8 piano with distinction after which he went on to pass ATCL and LTCL. He also completed a degree in flute performance at Auckland University and played 1st flute in the Auckland Youth Orchestra.

In the early 90s, he established the Greenhill Community Orchestra which he continues to conduct. As Director of the Orchestral Pathway Programme, he also conducts the NCMA Senior Youth Orchestra and the NCMA Junior Youth Orchestra, as well as leading the Victory School Music Programme. He regularly arranges festivals with other regional orchestras and is an enthusiastic promoter of youth talent.

Joel received the Queen’s Service Order (QSO) for services to music in 2017.

JR Richardson
Venue Technical Manager

JR Richardson is a professional freelance audio engineer and production technician based here in Nelson.

He provides a range of audio engineering, technical management, and production services to performing artists, events, venues and festivals.

JR is the present Venue Technical Manager of The Theatre Royal, the Technical Director of Nelson Fringe, and the Head of Sound for Nelsons Arts Festival.

Having been associated with the NCMA since 2010 as a regular venue technician and lighting engineer for our Winter Music Festivals, JR co-ordinates our technical department and spearheads the production aspects of the events we host.

If you have any questions about our spaces and their technical capacity, don't hesitate to get in touch with JR on [email protected].

Jessica St Germain
Funding and Development Manager

Jessica attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology. After graduating, she worked in Antarctica at the US South Pole and McMurdo science bases. Following the “ice,” she went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Acting from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) in Sydney. With an acting degree in hand, she moved to Los Angeles to work in film and television. She then moved back to Minnesota to become an On-Air Host for the home shopping network ShopHQ.

She came to Nelson with her husband and two kids in 2021. She’s excited to bring her varied background to help launch the NCMA Foundation and move the organisation towards financial

Lucy Davies
Community Music Manager

Lucy studied at the University of Auckland gaining a Bachelor of Music  in oboe performance as well as her LRSM. She then played in the Auckland Regional Orchestra for a year before moving to Sydney. Once in Sydney, her musical activities were on hold for a number of years while she raised a family. After resuming playing, she gained her L.Mus.A and began freelancing in various orchestras and chamber music groups in and around Sydney. In 2002, she gained a full time position as oboist with the NSW Police Concert Band and played with them for ten years before moving to Nelson in 2012. Lucy currently plays in the Nelson Symphony Orchestra and is also an accredited teacher with the NCMA.

As Community Music Manager, Lucy assists the Nelson Symphony Orchestra, the Nelson Civic Choir and the NCMA Pathways Orchestras with their administration and organisation.


Leonora Soares
Front of House Coordinator

Leonora grew up in Brazil, moved to the UK in her teens for University reading for a BA hons in Tourism and Events Management with Languages. She has trained as a keep fit instructor and has had a go in quite a few styles of dances since the age of 6. She is now a Kiwi citizen sharing her Brazilian culture through percussion and dance. Leonora teaches dance and creative movement to all ages from preschoolers to adults. When not dancing or organising events, she is a photographer and a gardening teacher. Leonora is the NCMA Front of House Coordinator and runs our team of event staff.