Former Directors of Music

Mark Hindley

MARK HINDLEY began his musical life as a Chorister at Lichfield Cathedral. It was here that he began to play the organ, progressing to Malvern College before being awarded an Organ Scholarship to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge where he studied with David Sanger.

Although he initially qualified as a doctor, his passion for music enticed him away from continuing a career in medicine. His musical background led naturally to many years of close involvement in church music, holding positions at St Matthew’s Church Northampton, St Paul’s Cathedral Dundee and Great St Mary’s Church Cambridge.

In 2003 he returned to Scotland to take up the position of Chorusmaster with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. This marked a change of emphasis to working mainly in secular contexts. Since then, he has worked with choruses and choirs across Europe including Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Royal Northern Sinfonia Chorus, Huddersfield Choral Society, Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, Dortmund Philharmonic Choir, Leeds Festival Chorus, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus and Radió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) Philharmonic Choir, whose Chorusmaster he was from 2012 until 2018. He has established close working relationships through preparing and training choirs for many leading conductors including the late Charles Mackerras, Jac van Steen, Kenneth Montgomery, Thierry Fischer, David Hill and Matthew Halls.

Mark also regularly directs orchestral forces. Recently this included his debut with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in the concluding concert of the Composing the Island Festival in September 2016 and a critically acclaimed performance of Handel’s Messiah in January 2017.

On a smaller scale, since 2009, Mark has been Musical Director of the Cumbrian chamber choir, the Wordsworth Singers, with whom he has established a reputation for adventurous programming and exciting, vibrant performances. He also works regularly with Glasgow Chamber Choir and has been a guest director of the Calton Consort. In 2015 he founded a new choir, the Scottish Vocal Ensemble, which draws together the finest choral singers from across Scotland and northern England.

When he is not directing, Mark maintains a busy schedule as a freelance organist and harpsichordist. He plays regularly with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia and has been invited to perform as soloist in many of the major venues across the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Poland and the USA.

Edward Caswell is a versatile and widely respected choral conductor, singer and teacher.  Working throughout the UK and Europe he has established a reputation for approaching choral conducting from a singer’s perspective.

2017 saw the publication of his first book, It’s always a Pussycat: a singer’s approach to choral conducting.  Since 2004 Edward has worked with professional choirs, amateur choirs and student choirs throughout Europe, particularly in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France.

In 2013 Edward founded Cromarty Youth Opera in his home in Scotland and in August 2016 he led the company in their fourth fully staged opera, Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell.

Edward was Director of The Wordsworth Singers from 2007 to 2009, during which he conducted them in a performance at the Lake District Summer Music Festival, and on a concert tour to Northumberland and Lindisfarne.

James Grossmith is Chorus Director of the Belfast Philharmonic Choir and Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

 In 2014, James was appointed Principal Chorus Master of Kungliga Operan (Royal Swedish Opera), one of Europe’s foremost full-time professional opera choruses, collaborating with many of Europe’s leading conductors.  Before taking up this post he was based in Glasgow for thirteen years, during which time he completed postgraduate conducting and repetiteur studies at the RSAMD, was Chorus Master for Scottish Opera between 2006 and 2014, and conducted performances by, among others, the State Hermitage Orchestra of St Petersburg, London Sinfonietta, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Edinburgh Festival Chorus. For many years he was also Director of Chapel Music at the University of Glasgow.

From 2004 to 2006 James was Director of The Wordsworth Singers and conducted them in a cappella concerts and several larger-scale performances with orchestra, including Handel Messiah and Israel in Egypt and Bach Christmas Oratorio. In 2006 he led the choir on tour to Lithuania and Latvia.

Charles Harrison combines a career as a solo and ensemble player with the post of Organist and Master of the Choristers at Chichester Cathedral, where he directs one of Britain’s most highly respected choirs

Charles was assistant organist of Carlisle Cathedral for four years from 1995 and, with Michael Hancock, is a Founder Conductor of The Wordsworth Singers, having jointly led the choir for seven years. He continues to work with the choir from time to time as conductor and accompanist.

Michael Hancock enjoys a hugely varied musical career. Since graduating from the Northern School of Music in 1972 he has performed all over the UK and in many foreign parts as a pianist, singer and conductor.

As an accompanist and chamber music player he has partnered many eminent musicians such as April Cantelo, Christopher Underwood, Joan Rodgers, Martin Milner, Janet Hilton, Julian Lloyd Webber, Willard White, Laurence Perkins and John Turner. He has served on the staff of the Royal Northern College and Chethams and has performed in many prestigious venues like the Purcell Room, the Wigmore Hall and the London Palladium. Michael has many commercial recordings to his credit, including discs for Hyperion, Pickwick and Campion. He has broadcast for Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as Classic FM and there have been numerous TV appearances.

Along with Charles Harrison, Michael is a Founder Conductor of the Wordsworth Singers, a post he held for seven years, and he is currently their President. A much sought-after teacher of piano and singing, Michael also finds time to adjudicate Music Festivals and he is an Examiner for ABRSM, for whom he also acts as a trainer and moderator. Examining tours have taken him all over the world including Iceland, Malaysia, the Middle East, Turkey, Brunei, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Spain, the Caribbean, Greece, USA, Canada and the Seychelles.

Michael also acted as vocal coach to the choir of Carlisle Cathedral from 1991 to 2010. In July 2007 he conducted the opening concert of the Carlisle International Summer Festival with the Festival Chorus, the Northern Sinfonia and daughter Emma playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

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