Sturminster Choral Society is a mixed choir that rehearses and performs in the north Dorset market town of Sturminster Newton. Our aim is to offer people in the community the opportunity to sing in a relaxed, friendly environment, but with the motivation of a concert performance twice a year. We currently have about 80 members, drawn from towns and villages all over north Dorset.
Our general preference is for sacred music to lead our concert programmes, although the repertoire has over the years been quite varied. But this is usually supported, at Christmas, by shorter pieces and carols for solo choir and audience; and, in the Spring, by lighter works. The work of contemporary (and local) composers often feature in our programme.
We are fortunate to be led by two wonderful conductors, who always keep us on our toes!
Caroline D’Cruz was one of the founder pupils at Chethams School of Music in Manchester when it became a specialist music school in 1969. She spent seven years there playing in orchestras and accompanying as well as pursuing academic interests. She then studied with David Parkhouse at the Royal College of Music from 1976 to 1980. After a short spell of teaching she joined the Civil Service and now combines that career with an active musical life in Dorset, where she has lived for the last 25 years.
Caroline particularly enjoys accompanying and works with a variety of singers and instrumentalists, performing regularly in the South West. As well as conducting Sturminster Choral Society, she is Musical Director of Milborne Port Opera, accompanies the Treasury Singers in Whitehall and is Chorus Répétiteur and Company Manager for Dorset Opera. She is the pianist for Absolutely Opera (www.absolutelyopera.co.uk) with whom she has toured in the Far East and South America.
Annemarie Lees studied voice at the Royal Academy of Music with Kenneth Bowen and afterwards with Josephine Veasey with whom she won many awards. She has been a freelance BBC singer and soprano soloist in a wide variety of masses, cantatas and oratorios throughout the British Isles. In recent years the versatility of her voice has been heard not only in choral works throughout Italy and Spain, but also at recitals of songs by Stephen Sondheim at the Edinburgh Fringe. Annemarie recently retired from the post of Director of Music at Knighton House School in Blandford and now teaches singing privately. She is delighted to be involved once again with Sturminster Newton Choral Society.
Our fantastic accompanist, Elaine Korman, keeps us in tune at rehearsals and our concerts.
Elaine Korman was born in Canada and came to London to study with Harold Craxton. For some years she was a rehearsal accompanist with the English National Opera. In 1986, she came to Dorset and has a busy schedule working with many local musicians including Dorset Opera and Sturminster Choral Society.
We are extremely privileged to be able to draw on several accomplished local organists for our concert performances. They include Peter Lattimer, our vice-president, former director of music at Bryanston School and currently organist and choir master at St Mary’s Sturminster Newton; as well as Sam Hanson, Chris Dowie and Graham Scott.
Again, there are many talented soloists living in the south west. We regularly draw on their experience as well as encouraging new names and singing scholars early in their careers. We were fortunate to be able to engage the 2010 Kathleen Ferrier Award winner, Njabulo Madlala, for our Spring 2011 concert, and regular soloists include: Anna Gregory (soprano), William Tyson Smith (baritone), Maria Marton (soprano), Andrew Armstrong (bass).