The Phoenix Singers, 'one of the pre-eminent musical organisations in Shropshire', celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2015. Currently numbering between 40 and 45 voices, a few members who joined when the choir was founded are still singing with us; many others have joined in recent years.
Richard Walker, the current conductor, was appointed in 2012, and earlier conductors included Richard White and John Naylor
Orchestral accompaniments are usually by the Phoenix Orchestra led by Paul Bramwell: 'an excellent orchestra with some spectacular obligato work'.
Apart from our staple diet of repertoire suitable for a choir of this size, we encourage new music, having commissioned several works, and organised two composition competitions. Visit the New Music page for details
We have travelled abroad on many occasions, and have had links with the Celle Streicherensemble (near Hannover) for 20 years and perform with them every two or three years, most recently in 2017 with performances of Handel's Dixit Dominus and Mozart's Requiem.
The Phoenix Singers usually offer three concerts a year, with around ten rehearsals for each. We also have a vibrant social programme - ranging from regular pub chats after rehearsals to Come and Sing days, singing carols for charity and organising our spectacular post-concert parties, which are justly the envy of other choirs.
Our Conductor - Richard Walker
Richard moved to Shropshire with his wife, Gay, in 2005. They have two sons (both of whom have played for us) and four granddaughters. He became our Musical Director in 2012, and has continued our tradition of providing demanding programmes sung to a high standard.
Richard’s career was as a teacher and organist, firstly in Edinburgh where he took up his first Director of Music post, then in Cambridge (Director of Music at the Leys School), and 1985 he was appointed Director of Music at Harrow School, a post he held for 20 years.
At Harrow he was responsible for the major choirs: Chapel Choir which sang weekly services and the Choral Society which sang large-scale works (Verdi’s Requiem, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast and many others) with professional orchestra and soloists.
Harrow School Chamber Choir, which he founded in 1986 became one of the school’s ambassadors. It undertook several foreign tours - to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and several times to Germany, sang nearly 50 Cathedral Evensongs and numerous concerts in local and London churches.
He also conducted the concert band and orchestra, the latter in the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of HM the Queen Mother in 2000 for a concert of Harrow Songs.
Richard’s main instrument is the organ; formerly Assistant Organist at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh and then Organist at St John's Church, Princes St in Edinburgh; he is now Assistant Director of Music at St Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury, where he plays for most of the larger-scale events. He has given recitals in many English and Scottish cathedrals and churches and also in Germany and the USA.
He lives in Church Stretton, and has been closely involved with the Church Stretton Arts Festival. He also organises the lunch-hour concerts at St Chad’s, Shrewsbury, of which there are 55 a year.
Other musical activities include piano duet playing, chamber music and accompanying.
Richard also plays double bass, and together with Gay (who plays the horn) they are members of both Shrewsbury and Ludlow Orchestras.
Assistant Conductor - Michael Turner
Assistant Conductor Michael Turner joined us in 2017, and conducts his first Phoenix concert on June 9th. His experience is wide: he was appointed Music Director of the Bloomsbury Chamber Orchestra in 1996 and the Oswestry Sinfonia in 2014. He made his debut with the Manchester Camerata in 2007, while other conducting has included the Telford Orchestra, appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe, and the Harlington Festival (founded and chaired by Michael). He was appointed joint conductor of Shropshire Youth Orchestra in September 2016. As a choral conductor, he has worked with the University of Leicester Singers, City Voices (Birmingham), Harlington Festival Chorus and the Birmingham Singers. He is also an active composer and has worked in the recording and arts administration fields.
All voices are welcome, but especially tenors and low basses at present. If you can read music, can commit to regular rehearsals and are enthusiastic about singing together, we would love to hear from you. You would normally attend about three rehearsals and then have a short informal audition with the Conductor.
For each concert we usually have about ten rehearsals with a final one on the day of the concert. Rehearsals normally take place on Thursdays at Shrewsbury Baptist Church, Crowmere Road, SY2 5JJ from 7.30pm - 9.30pm with one or two rehearsals at the concert venue. Members are expected to attend as many rehearsals as possible.
Details of forthcoming rehearsals, concerts and social events are to be found on the Concerts page. Subscriptions are collected termly and are currently £50.
Concert dress: Gentlemen: DJ's and black bow ties, ladies: black trousers / long skirts, black top, scoop or polo neck (depending on the weather) and a purple jacket supplied by the choir.