ABOUT THE DANESBOROUGH CHORUS

Founded in 1975, Danesborough Chorus is a choral society of around 100 members who enjoy performing to a high standard, accompanied by professionals: conductor, repetiteur, orchestra, instrumentalists and soloists.

Under the baton of Ian Smith, Danesborough Chorus is one of the finest amateur choral societies in the Milton Keynes/south-west Bedfordshire area. We aim to perform a varied repertoire, from standard to newly commissioned works. You'll find details in these documents:

Alphabetical list of works performed by composer (PDF)

Chronological list of concerts and vocal soloists (PDF)


We usually hold three concerts each season, in November, March and June.  Our November concert is often a joint concert with the Milton Keynes Chorale in Milton Keynes Theatre.  In March and June the venue is St. Mary's Church, Woburn, where the acoustic is perfect for the works we perform.

We're keen to attract singers who are eager to learn as well as those already musically educated or experienced in choral singing.

Professional musicians teach us both in rehearsal and in performance and we're regularly accompanied by Milton Keynes City Orchestra.

Meet some of us

Ian Smith
Musical Director

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 40 years’ 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.


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

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

Until his retirement, Ian was Director of Music and Head of Expressive Arts at Wootton Upper School. He continues to be actively involved in practical music-making and is a member of the Bedfordshire Music Trust.

John Witchell
Accompanist
Tessa (alto)

John has been accompanist with the Danesborough Chorus for the last eight years, during which time he has been involved in the preparation of a wide repertoire ranging from Bach’s B Minor Mass to Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony.  As a soloist, he has performed Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and, after putting pen to paper, the choir has performed his quirky arrangement of Good King Wenceslas.

 

His professional career has been centred around music education; first by directing music at Northampton Grammar School, Magdalen College School, Brackley and Hemel Hempstead School, and then as Head of Hertfordshire Music Service.  Most recently he was Chief Executive of the National Federation of Music Services.

 

He has conducted choirs and orchestras for most of his life: at Goldsmiths College and with Kettering Chamber Choir, which he founded.  He has been a regular conductor of Hertfordshire Schools’ Symphony Orchestra and, from time to time, Hertfordshire County Youth Choir.  He frequently plays the organ in local churches and, since his retirement, has made dubious contributions to forgiving orchestras as a double bass player.

Tessa is a housewife whose singing started at primary school under the direction of the inimitable and inspiring Hilary Davan Wetton. She has also sung in a Barbershop quartet and a chamber choir at Saturday morning music school. She originally joined Danesborough in 2006 but then took four years off to move abroad, rejoining in 2012.

"I had to re-audition and they actually let me back in!’ says Tessa. ‘I enjoy the discipline of learning a new piece of music and the satisfaction of mastering it. Rehearsals are so mentally consuming they enable me to switch off and give me a break from everyday life. Choir beats a spa day hands down! Ian Smith cares about the individuals in the choir. He even recognised me from my school orchestral days even though he hadn't seen me for 30 years!"

Tessa’s favourite concert so far is Will Todd’s Mass in Blue. She loves the jazz harmonies and is still humming the Benedictus! Her number 1 desert island disc is not classical: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (for the amazing harmonies and contrasting styles).

 

Tessa loves to cycle long distances on her road tandem.

Euan (bass)
Sarah (soprano)

Primary school teacher, Sarah, joined Danesborough Chorus in 2010.

Her earliest choral experience was, aged 7, in Newport Pagnell Church Choir.  Other singing experiences include being a Bishop's Chorister in Bath Abbey Choir and performing with Gloucester University Choir.  She has Grade 8 Singing from the London School of Music.

 

Sarah says, "I love the friendship, the music, the inspirational musical director and the standard we maintain and grow.

"My favourite concert so far was Haydn's The Seasons.

"Away from the choir, I love spending time with my friends and family, going to zumba, visiting National Trust places, shopping, reading and generally enjoying life!"

Euan worked for the Open University in Milton Keynes.

Although a boy chorister until his voice broke, Euan did no more singing until he joined Danesborough exactly 50 years later. "Everyone was very tolerant and helpful." he says, "At one rehearsal the person next to me pointed out gently that I was singing in the wrong octave. I was persuaded by a friend that it would be a good retirement present to myself; he couldn't have been more right!"

"Rehearsals are a high point of my week. Learning new music requires total concentration and gives a real sense of achievement. Singing is really good for your health. I hope I can go on till I drop."

Euan’s favourite concert was Verdi's Requiem in Milton Keynes Theatre at the end of his first term. He’s sung it seven times since and Verdi’s Libera Me is on his playlist.

Euan loves spending time with his grandchildren, travelling and listening to live music, especially opera.

Les (tenor)

Before retiring, Les worked in banking and NHS finance.

Having started to sing in a church choir at the age of six, he’s sung with many choirs, as either a member or guest and performed in many splendid venues.

 

For the last 16 years, Les has attended the Charterhouse Summer School of Music under the direction of John Huw Davies, where he sings with the Chamber Choir. He joined Danesborough in 2006.

“Danesborough Chorus, under the musical directorship of Ian Smith, inspires a good standard of choral music and is the best large choir in the region. My favourite concert so far has to be Mass in Blue composed and accompanied by Will Todd with his wife, Bethany Halliday, singing solo.”

Les is most interested in early music and A Cappella singing, but he also enjoys the music of Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen. When he’s not singing, Les loves walking in Devon or Wales and listening to classical music.

© 2018 Danesborough Chorus

Registered Charity Number: 279281

Registered address: 12 Heath Road, Great Brickhill, MK17 9AL
President: Jacqui Dankworth