For more than 30 years the Lancaster Singers has grown to a 70 strong mixed-voice choir.
What unites us is a love of music and performance and the pursuit of musical excellence.
All of us have had a short, informal audition and although some musical literacy is required we believe the variety of our musical backgrounds adds to the diversity and flexibility of the group.
See below for quotes from some of our members about themselves and what they love about the choir:
Helen Sayers - soprano
I have always loved singing, right from a young age. It definitely is a passion of mine, and being able to sing some beautiful music in the Lancaster Singers is fantastic. I have sung with the Hornby Choir for many years, on and off, and as a child I used to join in the Gilbert and Sullivan performances in Hornby with my Mum and Dad. All my family are musical, and it was a treat to sing the Verdi Requiem as my first piece of work with the Lancaster Singers, as it meant that I could sing it with my sister playing the violin in the Lancashire Sinfonietta. I worked as a Staff Nurse at the RLI for nearly 6 years and whilst there sang in the hospital choir for their carol concerts. From 2007 to 2011 I moved abroad to live with my husband, who was working in Sudan at the time. There I taught violin to a number of students and was an assistant to the International school’s art, drama and music department. From there we moved to Ethiopia. Here I tried to join a choir, but felt it would be too tricky for me, as they only sang in Amharic! We then lived in Kenya for a year, before moving back home to Lancaster. On moving back, I have started singing lessons, and my teacher recommended that I audition for the Lancaster Singers. I am very glad she did, as I am thoroughly enjoying singing with them. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and I love the music we sing. Both members and conductors are very professional, and create a wonderful sound. I enjoy the fact that some of the music is challenging and we are pushed to achieve a very good standard. I hope that I will be a member of the choir for many years to come
Beatriz Perez – Alto
Why do I sing? Fundamentally because it makes me feel good; all that oxygen to the brain is even better than a large gin and tonic. And cheaper and healthier! Also, I am a big believer in the power of community. And as I sing, I am aware of other voices around me – sometimes alongside me and at other times weaving in and out around me. I love the feeling of being part of something where my contribution counts but is just one component of many that come together to produce something that I couldn’t do alone. One of my jobs is to teach class music in schools. Lovely and satisfying as this is, at the end of some days I feel I’ve had my fill of wrong notes! Choir practice is the perfect antidote at the end of such a day. Mostly the notes are in the right places and that is bliss for me.
Maggie Bremner – Alto ( middle of photo right)
How can one live without singing? It’s the icing on the cake of life! I have sung all my life; at school, in the church choir, in London in the sixties, in Oxford in the seventies and in Lancaster in the eighties, nineties and noughties. I indulged my love of singing vicariously when my sons were young and in the local Priory choir. What a marvelous musical education they had there. An exciting experience was in joining them and some members of the Lancaster Singers in the community choir accompanying the earlier Shakespeare productions by our local Duke’s Theatre in Williamson Park, for the Theatre’s well-established and highly successful summer ‘Play in the Park’ series. It is fun singing with the Singers under the baton of director Marco. He works us hard in rehearsals and is so encouraging even when we are rubbish. I feel our singing technique is constantly improving and look forward to new and challenging work.
Janet Hopkins – Alto (pictured above on right)
As a very young child I was used to hearing my mother singing – most of the time. She and father were Gilbert and Sullivan enthusiasts and frequently burst into song at appropriate (and inappropriate) moments. My mother sang to me a lot and especially at night before turning off the light. She started taking me to concerts as soon as I was old enough to sit still and listen. She also encouraged me to harmonise with her. After singing in the school choir and whilst at university I joined the Gilbert and Sullivan Society. In 1970, I joined the Birmingham Choral Union, and in 1979, the Bekker Toonkunst Choir at Groningen in the Netherlands, under the leadership of Charles de Wolff. Last but not least, I joined the Lancaster Singers and have enjoyed the various programme of choral music performed with them.
Music has been part of my life from earliest memories sitting as a small boy in the choir at St Peter’s Church, Wolviston near Stockton-on-Tees. The vicar’s son was already a chorister at Durham Cathedral so I suppose someone must have suggested it for me too. My very first experience of Durham’s ‘Grey Towers’ was the beginning-of-term choir practice on a dark, icy and very scary Saturday night in January 1963. No underfloor heating in those days. There are so many striking memories even after so long – but singing in the televised Maundy Service in 1967, attended by the Queen, ranks amongst the most vivid.
After twenty years at sea (which was a bit of a musical wilderness though I did conduct an officers’ carol concert on the QE2 one Christmas!) I settled in Lancashire to teach at the Nautical College in Fleetwood. I joined the Lancaster Singers in the early 90s and have thoroughly enjoyed the mix of music and performance since then.
Living with my wife Jane (pictured with me), in Preesall, life revolves around family, Uni (where we both work), travelling (Jane lived in Oz and has family there), theatre and the garden. I also help out as chorus master for our local youth drama group, The St Oswald’s Dramatists. The 80-strong group have been performing musicals since 1995 and working with them is invigorating and always challenging. Sons Peter and Nick were members and both continue to enjoy making good music which has made, and continues to make, the journey unbelievably rewarding and worthwhile.
Hermione Roff – Soprano
I have always been interested in music and singing. One of my earliest memories is of lying in bed and hearing my father singing excerpts from the Messiah with my Mum accompanying him on the piano. I have four brothers each of whom sang in our local cathedral choir. It was a source of envy and incomprehension that I was not allowed to do the same. It was such good training and seemed such fun. However as compensation I was allowed to join the Choral Society alongside my Mum and it was a high-light every Tuesday to go along and sing works like the Bach Passions and Gerontius and of composers like Britten and Faure…… Wherever we have lived I have always sought out a choir to sing with – Sheffield Bach Singers, Nottingham Harmonic, the Halle Choir, Chester Bach Singers. The repertoire of these choirs is so great. I find it a joy to sing about things I believe in and can enter into, in an emotional and intellectual way. Someone gave me a ‘potshot’ postcard with these words on it…. ‘Dieu m’estime quand je travail, mais il m’aime quand je chante.’ (God esteems me when I work but he loves me when I sing)……………and that sums it up for me really. Hermione is a music graduate but has spent most of her working life as a Child and Family Systemic Psychotherapist in the NHS. She has published a clinical book about her work with disadvantaged children and their parents (Wiley 2008).
Gilian Sheath – Alto
I was introduced to classical singing with the ‘Sound of the Trumpet’ with the irrepressible Mrs Francis at Warrington Girls High School. Before that it was Mum and me singing along with ‘South Pacific’, ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ and any other musicals Mum had vinyls of. I joined the Bach choir in Birmingham as I wanted a night out in the middle of the week! With them I made three cds and toured to Leipzig, before the ‘wall’ came down and Lyons, France. I do so enjoy Tuesday nights. The grey matter is stimulated and the efforts of the day forgotten. Plus – there’s always something to laugh about. All good therapy. Then there’s the annual dinner. What fun that is!
Margaret Fancy – Soprano
I have been singing ever since we had an inspirational teacher at my secondary school. (You can see from the colour of my hair that it was a long time ago!) It was a co-ed grammar school so we had the benefit of men’s voices too and every choir I have joined since then has been for mixed voices. Due to moving up and down the country following my husband’s work I have sung with many choirs, both large and small. This included one large choir in which Jonathan, son of David Wilcocks, was the director, two Bach choirs and a Symphony Chorus. The latter enabled me to experience many different conductors at concerts, professional soloists and orchestras and made me learn the music quickly. In the 70′s I was also a member of the Preston Cecilian Choral Society. I first sang with the Lancaster Singers in Oct ’09. That was also Marco’s first performance as director with the Singers. It has been a joy to come to rehearsals; everyone has made me feel so welcome. I am continually learning and look forward to those opportunities that have been planned for improving our singing and enjoyment. My regular weariness disappears on a Tuesday evening’s rehearsal. For me – singing is wonderful!
John Nickols – 1st bass
A native of Croydon I came to Lancaster in 2007 having spent 40 years in the Nottingham/Derby area as a solicitor in company and commercial work. At the age of 7 I sang in a very good church choir and a year later aged 8, took part in in a Festal Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral. That experience remains memorable. After school there followed singing with Southampton University Choral Society, Nottingham Harmonic Society and the Sinfonia Chorale, a forty strong chamber choir of which I was Chair for 18 years. It was in the Sinfonia Chorale that I met Pamela (pictured with me), a soprano, now my wife and together we share life in our home at St Michael’s on Wyre, when not travelling together as clinical trials consultants and auditors. I’m enjoying membership of the Singers and have been made very welcome. John has sung in over 35 performances of Handel’s Messiah and enjoyed the last with the Singers as much as any.
Joan and I were founder members of the Lancaster Singers. But our singing together dates from almost 10 years before that when we met in a small Christian choir in Cambridge (led by a John’s College Choral Scholar). The choir was called the Ichthyan Singers – and a later member was Stephen Watson who sang with the us in the Lancaster Singers for a few years. You may be amused that I was librarian for a while and that I remember saying out loud, that it was a choir, not a marriage bureau, on noticing several engagements within it. But clearly I was unable to practice what I preached! Immediately after Cambridge I went out to Ottawa and sang a lot there. I was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Research Council – as was Denis McCaldin, now our outgoing Music Director, a couple of years before. I recently had an amazing exchange of e-mail correspondence about my singing experiences at the time, resulting in the discovery