Our Musical Mentors

Stephen Petch - Musical Director

Steve PetchStephen Petch became Musical Director of the Rushmoor Male Voice Choir in 2001, after being a singer with them since 1997.

He grew up in Aldershot, but has lived in the Fleet and Church Crookham areas for many years.

Steve was a Chorister and Head Chorister in St. Michael's Parish Church Choir, and learned piano and clarinet whilst at Grammar School. He ultimately gained his Grade VIII certificate in piano under the guidance of Julia Wilson and Olive O'Keefe.

These days Steve runs his own company and promotes himself as a freelance soloist, conductor and singing and piano tutor. His own voice training began with Edwin Rolles (formerly Head of Music at Frensham Heights School), and over the next few years won more than thirty first prizes in competitive vocal festivals. He is well known as a tenor soloist in his own right, and recently performed with the Vivaldi Singers of Farnham in a Purcell and Britten programme, and the Holybourne Singers in a performance of Mozart's Requiem.

He was recently tasked with the co-ordination and performance of the choral input for the Wind Tunnel Project, a project dedicated to hosting an exhibition, open to the general public, within the old RAE's 24 foot wind tunnel (known as Q121) in tghe run-up to the Farnborough Air Show.

Steve is also Musical Director of Crondall Community Choir , the Alton Choral Society and the Kindred Spirits Choir, a choir of breast cancer sufferers, survivors and carers affiliated to Frimley Park Hospital, supporting, amongst other charities, Frimley Park's own Breast Care Appeal.

Steve is the Deputy Festival Director for the Festival of Male Voices hosted by Bournemouth Male Voice Choir - but hopes to continue as Rushmoor's Musical Director for as long as the lads want him!

Margery Wakefield - Accompanist

Margery WakefieldMargery's predecessors as accompanist for the Odd's 24 years to 1984 included Fred Titherington, Colin Campbell and Colin Wilson. Margery has played the piano both performing and accompanying since before her teens. Her piano teacher's brother (Johnny Dankworth) did offer to teach her the clarinet - there's a thought!

Margery graduated as a teacher from the Royal Academy of Music although her real wish was to accompany. Another student there was Julia Wilson. While she was being coached by Professor Maria Donska in the 1970's, Margery taught on Saturday's at the Royal College of Music. In the 1990's she was coached by Peter Element of the R.C.M.

Margery's first year as a teacher was in Peterborough, where besides music, she taught tennis, netball and diving! After marrying Don she taught at Ilford and successfully conducted the school choir from the piano.

Don joined Solatron in Dorking, so Margery taught music and technical drawing at Leatherhead but Solatron quickly moved to Farnborough, so in September 1962 they moved with their year-old daughter to Church Crookham. within a month Margery was the accompanist for the Waverley Singers (which she was for 25 years). In many concerts the Waverley's included a piano concerto for Margery to be the soloist. She was also a soloist for the R.A.E. Orchestra.

In November 1962, Margery joined Pax Hill (Finishing) School for Girls to teach piano. When Pax Hill was sold she joined the Hampshire Peripatetic Music staff to teach piano at a number of Rushmoor schools each week as well as to perform all over the County with other instrumentalists. When the organisation of peripatetic work changed in 1986 Margery applied to Lord Wandsworth College (south of Odiham) where she continues to teach piano at all grades and Diploma.

In 1984 Margery was invited to be the Odds accompanist and for a couple of years she accompanied both the Waverley Singers and the Odd Fellows.

In 1987 with kids grown up and parents deceased, Margery (with Don) tried skiing and cycling which has taken them around the hillier bits of Europe, USA, Canada and New Zealand but they still love taking their dogs to the Lake District. They try to keep fit at Cannon (Nuffield Heath) in Weybourne where, in 1997, a trainer cajoled Margery into running which has led to her running, for charities, the 2001 London Marathon and the 2002 and 2004 New York Marathons.

Dr Haydn James - Choir President

Dr Haydn JamesFollowing an early retirement from a successful career in industry, Haydn James devoted himself exclusively to music, and is now in demand as arranger, musical adviser, guest conductor and adjudicator. With more than forty years’ experience as a choral director, Haydn has worked with many male, female and mixed voice choirs, and was Musical Director of The London Welsh Male Voice Choir for thirty years until his retirement in 2010. During this period, Haydn performed in numerous countries throughout the world, and has appeared at most of the UK’s major concert venues.

For the past fifteen seasons, he has been Musical Director for the Welsh Rugby Union, conducting the pre- match singing and Anthems at more than 100 international games in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, as well as at international and cup final games in Paris, Wembley (including the 2008 FA Cup Final), Twickenham, Scotland and Cape Town. He has conducted choirs on four successive British and Irish Lions tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and also at six Rugby League Challenge Cup Finals in Cardiff and Wembley.

Since the inception of the biennial London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs (the 1000 Voices) at the Royal Albert Hall, Haydn has directed nine of these spectacular concerts. He has also conducted massed choirs at Cardiff Castle, St David’s Hall, the Wales Millennium Centre and Sydney Opera House; more recently, he conducted a choir of 400 voices at New York’s Carnegie Hall, in a concert which starred soloist Bryn Terfel.

A committed supporter of the Gymanfa Ganu, Haydn has directed these hymn-singing festivals in England and Wales, as well as in Canada on five occasions, and twice with the North American Welsh Association. As a guest conductor, he travels throughout the UK and overseas; recent engagements have included directing the Aberystwyth University Madrigal Choir’s 60th anniversary concert, the Welsh Choir of Southern California’s 10th anniversary concert, a London Welsh combined chorus at Westminster Hall, a male choir in Chile and The Falkland Islands, the Treorchy Male Choir in ten concerts, including three on their Scottish tour, and adjudicating choral festivals in Krakow, Poland. In 2012, Haydn was Chorus Master for an Olympic Games Choral Festival at London’s Royal Festival Hall, and conducted the European Choirs at this concert. He also recently conducted a new young male chorus, Eschoir, at a St David’s Day reception in No. 10 Downing Street which was hosted by The Prime Minister, and earlier at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at a function hosted by the Secretary of State for Wales and The First Minister.

Haydn conducted the singing at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup Opening Ceremony and also at the semi- finals in Wembley Stadium, and was heavily involved in the recent Rugby Union World Cup, conducting the singing of the Anthems at ten of the games, in Cardiff, Twickenham and Wembley.

Haydn is delighted to have been the Rushmoor Male Voice Choir’s President for the past twelve years; he is also President of Brecon Male Choir, Honorary Member of the Treorchy Male Choir, and Vice President of Morriston Orpheus Choir, London Welsh Male Voice Choir, The South Wales Male Choir and The Maesteg & District Male Choir. He was recently appointed Honorary Patron of both the Australian Welsh and Pontarddulais Male Choirs.


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