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

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.

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


Lucy Davies
Community Music Manager

Lucy gained a performance degree on the oboe at Auckland University before playing for a year in the Auckland Regional Orchestra. During that time, she also gained her LRSM and taught the oboe both privately and in schools.

Lucy then moved to Sydney and, after a break to raise a family, resumed playing obtaining her L.Mus.A and working as a free-lance musician in many chamber music and orchestral ensembles in and around Sydney. Lucy then held a full time position as oboist with the NSW Police Concert Band for ten years, playing in both the full band and the wind quintet.

After moving to Nelson in 2012, Lucy became an accredited teacher with the NCMA and also joined the Nelson Symphony Orchestra.

When not involved with music, Lucy enjoys biking and hiking in Nelson’s beautiful surroundings.


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.