Having been a full-time classroom teacher for thirty years, Margaret now has a varied portfolio of roles in music. She formed Lutley Community Voices in 2012, whilst music co-ordinator at Lutley Primary School, with whom she has appeared at Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Dudley Town Hall. In 2016 Margaret became Musical Director of the Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir, and she has also created two other vocal groups in her hometown of Halesowen: a singing for pleasure group, Shenstone Singers, and an upper voices chamber choir, Shenstone Roses. Her own development as a music director has been supported by her involvement with the Association of British Choral Directors, with whom she has completed Initial and Intermediate extended courses under the tutelage of Julian Wilkins, Sue Hollingworth and Keith Orrell and taken part in masterclasses with Nicholas Cleobury, Patrick Russill and Will Prideaux. She has also attended summer school courses at Shrewsbury and Sherborne.
Education remains central to Margaret’s working life, teaching part time at Lutley providing small group instrumental and vocal lessons. She also facilitates primary music training to Initial Teacher Training students and leads musicianship workshops for adults. Her passion for vocal leadership started with school groups and she has directed a massed choir of over 200 voices from Hales Valley Multi Academy Trust, of which Lutley is part. Although she now spends much of her time at the front, Margaret still enjoys being in the middle of a choir as an alto in Birmingham Festival Choral Society. She has performed in Germany, Slovenia, Estonia, Slovakia, Ireland, France and Romania in her 20 years with BFCS.
Below is full list of our musical leaders since the choir was formed in 1957
|1957 - 1961||Harry Ord||Conductor|
|1961 - 1964||Tom Simmons||Conductor|
|1964 - 1982||Noel J M Lee||Conductor|
|1982 - 1997||Noel J M Lee||Musical Director|
|1997 - 2007||Lynn Andrews||Musical Director|
|2007 - 2008||John Walley||Acting Musical Director|
|2008 - 2015||Mike Wells||Musical Director|
|2016 - Present||Margaret Jones||Musical Director|
John Walley has been a member of "The Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir" since January 1989. His usual role on the second row of the Second Tenors has nothing to do with his love of rugby!
John took early retirement from his position as a Civil Engineer with Sandwell Council, and first served as Choir Chairman during 1998. It was in 1998 that John, who also is a Church Organist and Choirmaster, was appointed as Deputy Conductor to "The Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir".
John's musical and artistic talents are often deployed to the full when he leads the choir (some of you will have seen him conducting "This Old Man"!!!!) and the choir supporters in "songs and actions" at our regular concert afterglows and in the bar on choir tours - often ending flat on the floor at the end of leading a group singing "Who Killed Cock Robin?"
Neil began reading music at the age of five, and learnt to play the recorder in a lunch-time group at infant school. He continued to play most members of the recorder family at Causeway Green Music Centre for ten years, and then joined the "Zephyr Consort", playing bass recorder until the group disbanded in 1994.
Neil's piano lessons commenced at the age of seven, and continued for eleven years, by which time he had achieved Grade 8 in piano playing. Throughout his years in school and higher education, he has learnt to play the tuba, violin and clarinet amongst other instruments, and he played clarinet in his school Wind Band, "The Sandwell Training Concert Band", and finally "The Sandwell Youth Concert Band" (as first clarinet), before leaving to concentrate on his academic studies.
Whilst at school, he played the piano in the Jazz Band, and the Bass in "Neither Brass Nor Strings" - a Steel Band, the latter making a recording in a professional studio to raise money for school funds. They also played at many school fetes, concerts, assemblies and even at a wedding and a birthday party.
Neil was appointed Assistant Accompanist to "The Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir" in May 1998, after meeting his mentor, Lynn Andrews, whilst undertaking his first teaching practice at her school. He has served as Accompanist to the "Sandwell Young Singers", a choir for school children within the Sandwell Education Authority area, and has also acted as an official accompanist at the Dudley Festival of Music Drama and Dance.
In his professional life, Neil is the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in Sandwell.
Neil was promoted to Accompanist at the end of March 2003. He is also the organist at St. Peter’s Church in West Bromwich, and an accompanist for ‘Singing for Pleasure’ - another Dudley based choir.
Phil joined us as Assistant Accompanist in December 2010 whilst still at secondary school. Since then, his musical career has blossomed - so much so that he is in great demand by choirs, bands, orchestras and musical theatre companies throughout the land and beyond.
This progression has been enhanced by the fact that he attended the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - graduating in July 2016 with a BMus First Class Honours Degree in Performance, specialising in percussion. He is now working as a freelance pianist, percussionist, guitarist, musical director, arranger and composer. Since then, his career has included:
Royal Shakespeare Company
Musical Direction: A Museum in Baghdad (Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 2019 - 2020), Romeo & Juliet UK Tour (2019), Hamlet UK and International Tour (2018)
Assistant Musical Direction: The Rover (Swan Theatre, Stratford -upon-Avon (2016-2017)
Phil has also performed in the RSC’s Associate Schools Festival, Playmaking Festival and the Shakespeare World Congress
Other Musical Direction
Peter Pan (2017), Aladdin (2018) – Wyvern Theatre, Swindon. Flashdance (2016), The Wedding Singer (2017) Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama
Other Assistant Musical Direction
Singin’ In The Rain (2019) – Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
UK Tours: Keyboard deputising on On Your Feet, The Bodyguard, The Book of Mormon (2019), Wicked, Evita (2018), Tango Moderno, The Commitments (2017)
He has composed and produced soundtracks for WILD Zoological Park and has arranged for Percussion Ensembles at the CBSO and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He regularly works and performs with local singer/songwriter Alex Jayne and has collaborated and worked on several recordings with her in the studio.
Whilst we don’t see too much of Phil these days, we know that he values his roots, and that should we need his services in the future, and he is free, available and not in some far flung corner of the globe (no pun intended!) we will be able to call on him to accompany us again.
“Well Done Phil”
Further details are available on Phil’s website: www.philjamesmusician.co.uk
From time to time, we also use the very valuable services of our Associate Accompanist, Peter Clay, to accompany us. Peter normally resides and sings in the Bass Section, but is equally at home sat at the keyboard doing an excellent job for us