HCS Highworth Choral
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About Us

The present Highworth Choral Society was formed when a local GP, Dr David Lawrence, asked all who enjoyed singing to meet at Warneford School in September 1978. He led from the front for the first concert of the newly formed society - a Christmas concert in St Michael's Church, Highworth.


 
 
 

Leon James was born in Bedfordshire. He was a Westminster Abbey Chorister from 1973 to 1978 under the direction of Dr. Douglas Guest and Stephen Cleobury.  Study at the Birmingham Conservatoire began in 1983 with Brian Rayner Cook, receiving coaching from Geoffrey Pratley, Stuart Smith and Pamela Cook MBE.  He graduated on the teaching and performing courses in 1987.  Whilst at the Conservatoire, Leon won the Gordon Clinton English Song Prize and the Reginald Vincent Lieder Competition.  He was a finalist in the Canoldir Award Competition and won the Birmingham and Midland Institute Prize for singing in 1987.

His career over the years has involved performing in numerous Operas and Oratorios, as well as singing professionally for The Sixteen, The Academy of Ancient Music and Ex Cathedra.  He appears as a soloist on some of Ex Cathedra’s CD recordings (under his previous surname of Storey), and performed with them as a soloist in Sicily, Milan, Lyon, Lourdes, Leipzig, Dresden, and Bruges over the years.

 

Leon has always combined his singing engagements with his teaching career. He has been a Choral Animateur for Ex Cathedra and the British Federation of Young Choirs, as well as a highly regarded and successful Head of Music in different schools over the last thirty years.  He was the Musical Director of both the Selly Park Choral Society and The Phoenix Singers in Birmingham up until 2001, rehearsing and conducting concerts, some with piano or organ accompaniment, but most concerts with a full orchestra and professional soloists.

 

He was Director of Music at Chipping Campden School in the North Cotswolds from 2001-2013, where he directed superb student performances of the musicals “Oliver”, “Les Miserables”, “Return to the Forbidden Planet”, “West Side Story”, “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Godspell”, plus concert performances of Vivaldi’s “Gloria’, Rutter‘s “Requiem”, “5 Famous English Church Anthems” and Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”. He also directed the Chipping Campden Swing Band, a big band that at its peak had over 60 pieces on its play list from the 1920’s to the present day. Leon also formed and directed two highly regarded choral groups Canzona and Canzonetta.  

 

Leon moved on to pastures new in January 2014 and was the Head of Music at St. Benedict’s RC School in Alcester up until the end of October 2019, as well as being the MD of the Solihull Chandos Choir and the Warwickshire Singers.

 

Leon has achieved his long-term aim to retire from the classroom (after over 30 years as a secondary school Director of Music), in order to focus 100% on where he feels most at home and in his ‘element’, as a choral director. He began his new role as MD of Highworth Choral Society in September 2021.



 

Our rehearsal accompanist and concert pianist is
Chris Williams. Chris began playing the piano at the age of eight. She studied music at Liverpool University and followed this with a year at Gipsy Hill College of Education.

After several years of classroom teaching, she now teaches piano privately and is actively involved in the musical life of the local community. She has been with Highworth Choral Society since 1994.

  Chris Williams
 

  Highworth Choral Society is a registered charity (1096246) with the aims of promoting different types of choral singing in the Highworth area.

The Committee, under the guidance of our chairman Christine Dunster, manages the choir under the principles set out in the Constitution. The committee determines the course the choir should take, in conjunction with advice from our Musical Director.

These are our current committee members and their roles.
 
 
 
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