Supported and rehearsed by dedicated professional musicians who are fun to work with!              

Meet our conductor and our repetiteur

Ian Smith

Ian is one of the leading and most sought-after conductors in the Bedford and Milton Keynes area. Educated at York University and Queens' College Cambridge, he moved to Milton Keynes in 1975 and to Bedford in 1981. Ian is musical director and principal conductor of Bedford Choral Society and the Danesborough Chorus.

Recent choral performances include Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, Vivaldi Dixit Dominus, Karl Jenkins The Armed Man, Verdi Requiem, Bach B minor Mass. Forthcoming performances include Brahms Requiem, Sullivan Te Deum, Reinberger Mass in E♭, Tippett Spirituals from A Child of our Time, Britten Rejoice in the Lamb.

Ian's wide-ranging career includes radio recordings and television appearances for BBC and ITV. His breadth of musical experience and enthusiasm have resulted in Ian being invited to conduct a number of orchestras, including Milton Keynes City Orchestra and Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra. As a violinist, he is leader of the Beverley String Quartet.

Ian has recently worked for the Professional Development Department of the ABRSM delivering courses to teachers in England, Hong Kong and Singapore and continues to deliver courses to music teachers. He is a Trustee of The Wavendon Allmusic Plan where he is also an active member of the Theatre Board. Until his recent retirement, Ian was Director of Music, Head of Expressive Arts and Assistant Headteacher at Wootton Upper School, near Bedford. He continues to be actively involved in practical music-making throughout the area and is a member of the Bedfordshire Music Trust.

Ian brings a tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the choir, together with a strong commitment, whilst drawing on the abilities of every choir member. With over 35 years of professional experience, his reputation for expressive, high standard rehearsal and performances attracts musicians and audiences alike. The sheer sense of fun that he communicates ensures we return again and again.

 

John Witchell

John has played the organ for most of his life: in churches in London, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire and as a freelance recitalist. Currently he leads the music at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Olney. He graduated from the University of London in 1972 and for sixteen years directed the music in several secondary schools, including Northampton School for Boys, Magdalen College School, Brackley and Hemel Hempstead School. Within a busy schedule of music-making and teaching, his school choirs appeared with distinction in the Sainsbury's Choir of the Year and the International Choral Festival in Montreux.

Later he became County Adviser for Music in Hertfordshire and Head of the music service. During that time the service received the National Council Major Trophy for Music Education five times and its young musicians performed in major venues throughout the UK. One of his fondest and most challenging memories is that of directing commissioned pieces for massed choirs in the Royal Albert Hall.

John was the founder conductor of the London Camerata and Kettering Chamber Choir. However, as Chief Executive of the Federation of Music Services and chair of the Music Education Council he spent considerable time arguing the case for music education and supporting music services throughout the country rather than making music himself.

Since his retirement from full-time work he is once more enjoying practical music, accompanying the Danesborough Chorus and, with mixed results, learning the double bass! He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and, when not engaged with music, he runs along the pathways by the Great Ouse River which are close to his home in Willington.