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Rebecca Lea

Rebecca completed her MMus with Distinction at the Royal Northern College of Music. Previous to this she studied at The Queen’s College, Oxford, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Recent solo performances include Poulenc’s La voix humaine at the Purcell Room, Judith Weir’s The Consolations of Scholarship at The Sage, Gateshead, King Harald’s Saga at the Wigmore Hall and William Bolcom’s Cabaret Songs at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms Lates Series. She has appeared as a soloist in concert and on BBC Radio 3 with Manchester Camerata, Northern Sinfonia, The Liverpool Philharmonic Ensemble 10/10.

She gave her first solo performance at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2011, performing Gary Carpenter’s One Million Tiny Operas about Britain and at the Lake District Summer Music Festival in 2012 in the newly-devised production The Mask Behind the Face.

Opera roles include Elle (La voix humaine), Galatea (Acis and Galatea), Cis (Albert Herring), Susanna(Le Nozze di Figaro), The Governess (The Turn of the Screw) and Venus (The Judgement of Paris). She recently played the role of Paula in the newly commissioned work, Amy’s Last Dive, by Cheryl Frances Hoad, with the company Wingbeats as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, touring to Leeds and Bridlington Spa Theatre.

She also works as a freelance  consort and ensemble singer  with the BBC Singers, Britten Sinfonia Voices, Buxton Opera Festival Chorus, Cries of London, the NDR Radio Choir in Hamburg, Howard Goodall’s Enchanted Voices, Platinum Consort, as well as with many of the professional church choirs in London. She is also busy as an oratorio soloist throughout the UK.

Rebecca has been the grateful recipient of the Oxford Lieder Festival Scholarship, the RNCM Contemporary Music Prize, the RNCM Kate Snape Award and the Liverpool Opera Circle Bursary.

Rebecca is also Co-Artistic Director of the classical music theatre company Re:Sound, with whom she has performed at various venues across the UK, including Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, The Royal Albert Hall, the Shulman Auditorium, Oxford, and the RNCM Studio Theatre. Their latest production, Battles Within and Without, will tour to King’s Place, London, in 2013.

Rebecca Lea’s website is

Appearances with Chester Bach Singers

Katie Bray

British mezzo-soprano, Katie Bray is fast establishing a colourful international career, most recently engaged as Charlotte Werther in the 2014 Grimeborn Festival. That year, she made her solo début with Garsington Opera as Emma in Offenbach’s Vert Vert, directed by Martin Duncan and conducted by David Parry. Other recent operatic roles include Lazuli L’Étoile with New Sussex Opera, cover Cherubino Le Nozze di Figaro in McVicar’s production at ROH, and NancyAlbert Herring with Opera North.

This season, Katie makes her solo début with English National Opera in Joanna Lee’s The Way Back Home at the Young Vic Theatre, and in 2015, she will join Opera Holland Park as Mallika Lakmé and Opera North as Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Katie is also a keen recitalist, and has performed in prestigious venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, The Forge, the Holywell Music Room and St George’s, Hanover Square. She has given recitals in many song festivals including the City of London Festival, the London English Song Festival and the Oxford Lieder Festival.

Other recent highlights include a recording of Zemlinsky’s Opus 13 with Trevor Pinnock, and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in the Loch Shiel Spring Festival.

Katie graduated as a Karaviotis Scholar from the opera course at the Royal Academy of Music, and was awarded the 2012 Principal’s Prize. Taught by Elizabeth Ritchie and Iain Ledingham, she won First Prize in the Academy’s prestigious Richard Lewis Singing Competition in 2011.

Her website is

Appearances with Chester Bach Singers

Tom Kelly

Tom became a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral aged 7 where he sang for six years under John Scott. He read Music at The University of Manchester where he studied with Martin Bussey. He was a Lay Clerk at Manchester Cathedral and a regular member of the Daily Service Singers on BBC Radio 4.

Since graduating, Tom has been a Lay Clerk of New College Oxford, and has sung with a range of professional choirs including Ex Cathedra, The Sixteen, La Nuova Musica, The Fieri Consort, Britten Sinfonia Voices, The Gabrieli Consort, and Chapelle du Roi. He looks forward to upcoming engagements with Polyphony and The Marian Consort.

As a soloist, Tom has regularly performed a range of concert works including Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Monteverdi’s Vespers, and a particular highlight has been performing the Evangelist of The St. John Passion.

On stage, Tom has performed the role of Jupiter in Semele, and the Mudlark in Mudlark Dances, a setting of music by Monteverdi commissioned as a groundbreaking touring opera for Spitalfields Music with performances designed specifically for babies aged 6 months to 2 years old.

Appearances with Chester Bach Singers

Graham McCusker

Graham was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Paisley. Born into a musical family (his father an opera singer with Scottish Opera and his mother a singing teacher) he began singing at the age of five as a chorister in the Paisley Abbey Choir. During his 16 years in the choir, he became Head Boy at the age of nine and a Choral Scholar at age 15. As a treble, Graham sang with the Scottish Opera Children’s Chorus in productions of The Queen of Spades, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Bohème, Tosca and Hansel and Gretel. He also played Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors and Miles in the RSAMD’s production of The Turn of the Screw. Whilst singing as a treble Graham also studied the piano, and when his voice changed, he continued with piano studies at the Junior RSAMD.
Graham gained a place at Douglas Academy Music School in Milngavie for his final two years of school, studying voice with Ruth Dean and piano with Anna Rastopchina. During this time he sang in many choirs, including The National Youth Chamber Choir of Scotland, Strathclyde University Chamber Choir, RSNO Chorus and the RSAMD Chamber Choir, with which he performed in such renowned venues as the Royal Albert Hall, the Usher Hall and Queens Hall in Edinburgh, Royal Concert Hall and City Halls in Glasgow, His Majesty’s Theatre and St Thomas’s Church in Leipzig. Shortly after completing his studies at Douglas Academy, Graham was offered a position as tutor with the Renfrewshire Schools Senior Choir.
In his second year at the Royal Northern College of Music he was chosen as one of the apostles to sing in performances at the Bridgewater Hall and in the proms at the Royal Albert Hall and which they made a recording of ‘The Apostles’ by Elgar. The CD got Gramophone recording of the year, amongst other awards, and No. 4 in the classical charts.
Recent highlights as a soloist include performing Handel’s Messiah with Chesterfield Choral Society, Beethoven no. 9th symphony with Salford Choral Society, Brahm’s German Requiem with critically acclaimed chamber choir Caledonian Voices and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with Southwell Choral Society. Graham also recently sang with Boy George and Clean bandit live on Radio 1 & 2 alongside the BBC Philharmonic.
On the opera stage Graham is recently played the role of Bogdanovich in the RNCM production of ‘The Merry Widow’ and is soon to play Oreste in Gluck’s ‘Iphigenie en Tauride’ in June in St. Andrew’s. Graham is currently on the Post Graduate Diploma course studying singing with Peter Alexander Wilson at the RNCM.

Appearances with Chester Bach Singers

24th January 2015: Come and Sing – Elgar’s The Music Makers

All Saints Church, Hoole, Chester CH2 3HZ

Join Chester Bach Singers with their conductor Martin Bussey, pianist Graham Eccles and mezzo-soprano Catherine Backhouse.

This is an opportunity for all singers, including members of church choirs, to rehearse and perform Elgar’s The Music Makers with Chester Bach Singers.


1.00 pm – 2.00 pm Singers to register, collect ordered music & be seated.
Tea and coffee available.
2.00 pm – 4.15 pm Rehearsal.
With Martin Bussey and Graham Eccles.
4.15 pm – 5.00pm Break.
Tea/coffee and cake in the church hall.
5.00 pm – 6.00 pm Performance.
Friends and family are welcome at no charge.


The Music Makers op. 69 is a cantata for contralto, choir and orchestra based on a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. It was commissioned for, and first performed at, the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival, 1912.

Elgar had been working on a setting of O’Shaughnessy’s Ode for some years already before the commission so it is reasonable to suppose that the poem really appealed to his nature.

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams…

Later in his life Elgar was to write “I am still at heart that dreamy child who used to be found in the reeds by the Severn side with a sheet of paper trying to fix the sounds and longing for something very great. I am still looking for this.” In Elgar’s own words “the atmosphere of the music is mainly sad” yet, “there are moments of enthusiasm and bursts of joy occasionally approaching frenzy: moods which the creative artist suffers in creating or in contemplation of the unending influence of his creation. Yes suffers – this is the only word I dare use for even the highest ecstasy of ‘making’ is mixed with the consciousness of the sombre dignity of the eternity of the artist’s responsibility.” Much has been made of his use of quotations from his other works – Sea Pictures, Gerontius and Enigma Variations – but Elgar wrote in his original programme notes, “Please do not insist on the extent of the quotations…they form a very small part of the work. These musical quotations form, however, a significant part of the tapestry of The Music Makers.

The work is dedicated to one of Elgar’s dearest friends, Nicholas Kilburn, who exhorted performers to “Sing and play as though you were in dreamland and all will be well”.


This year we are holding our workshop at All Saints Church, Hoole (CH4 7HL). This is the church with the spire on Hoole Road, Chester. It has excellent facilities and is less than 10 minutes walk from Chester railway station. There is very limited parking at the church but we would like to save that for people with reduced mobility. Parking in the streets of Hoole is also possible but can be difficult at the weekend.

We are very grateful to Hoole United Reformed Church (CH2 3NT) for giving us permission to use its large car park for this event. The car park is on your right as you drive towards Chester. It is then only a 5-minute walk to All Saints. There will be car-parking attendants on duty and we ask that you make a donation of £2 towards the church’s programme of modernisation.

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Workshop fee £18.00 (full-time students £10). This includes coffee/tea on arrival and tea/coffee and cake in the interval before the performance.

Hire copies of the Novello edition of Elgar’s The Music Makers can be ordered in advance for £2.00, collected at registration, and must be returned after the performance.

Regrettably, no refunds after 12 January 2015.

If you require further information, please contact Cath Glazzard by email to cath.glazzard[at] or ring Cath Glazzard 01244 383746, Margaret Newman 01829 770104 or Maire Gibson 01829 720283

To make a booking, please download the Elgar Music Makers booking form and send, together with a cheque made payable to Chester Bach Singers, to:

Chester Bach Singers
The Firs

20th December 2014: Carols by Candlelight – A Celtic Christmas (Handbridge)

Saturday 20 December 2014 7.30 pm

St Mary’s, Handbridge, Chester CH4 7HL

Chester Bach Singers’ Carols by Candlelight Concerts combine atmospheric Celtic music with more traditional and well known Christmas favourites. Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Basque carols will be performed by the choir interspersed with popular Christmas carols for choir and audience.

Retiring collection in aid of Wirral Hospice St John’s.

Tickets: £11 including refreshments


14th December 2014: Carols by Candlelight – A Celtic Christmas (Tattenhall)

Sunday 14 December 2014 7.30pm

St Alban’s Church, Tattenhall CH3 9QE

Chester Bach Singers’ Carols by Candlelight Concerts combine atmospheric Celtic music with more traditional and well known Christmas favourites. Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Basque carols will be performed by the choir interspersed with popular Christmas carols for choir and audience.

Retiring collection in aid of Wirral Hospice St John’s.

Tickets: £11 including refreshments

8th November 2014: For M is Musick

Saturday 8 November 2014 7.30pm

Wesley Church Centre, Chester CH1 1DA

For M is Musick

This concert will feature pieces that weave through the renaissance of English Choral Music that emerged from the late 19th century with works of Stanford, Elgar, Naylor and Bairstow, published in the first decades of the 20th century and show how these have influenced later, more modern works. For example, the title for the concert, For M is Musick, comes from Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, a cantata first published in 1943 which sets extracts of a eccentric poem by eighteenth century clergyman, Christopher Smart to the new irregular rhythmic motifs made notorious by Stravinsky earlier in the 20th century. This is particularly challenging in the fast section about ‘Nimrod, the mighty hunter’ which changes time signature in nearly every bar based around groupings of five notes – very difficult to count but once learnt, this passage stays with the singer forever! Musically, however, the shape of the work derives much from the anthems of Henry Purcell from the seventeenth century, with its ‘verse’ sections for solo singers from the choir and the recurring ‘Hallelujah’ section. And there are other connections between Purcell and the other works in what promises to be an exciting and diverse programme:

Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb
Stanford: 3 Motets (Beati quorum, Coelos ascendit, Justorum animae)
Bairstow: Let all Mortal Flesh
Elgar: Give unto the Lord
Tavener: Ikon of St Cuthbert
Naylor: Vox dicentis
Howells: Requiem
Whitacre: Sleep

Adults £12
Under 18s £5


10th September 2014: OPEN REHEARSAL

Why not join Chester Bach Singers for an open rehearsal at our rehearsal venue? Sing with us for the evening or just come along and watch. You will be very welcome. No need to book but if you would like more information, contact the choir or join us on facebook.

We welcome singers of all abilities to our open rehearsal on Wednesday, 10th September, 2014 at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start at the Music Department, Kings School, Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QL. Music will be provided on loan for the evening. The rehearsal will finish by 9.45pm.

We will be focussing on Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb plus other pieces that will feature in our November concert.

5th September 2014: Joint Concert with Le Voci

Friday, 5th September, 2014, 8pm

Venue: St Mary’s Centre, Chester, CH1 2DW

Norway comes to Chester! Le Voci (from Oslo) in a joint concert with Chester Bach Singers. English and Scandinavian songs and madrigals, including:

  • Rutter: Sprig of Thyme
  • Hovland: Karin Boye
  • Grieg: Ave Maris Stella
  • Havroy: Noringen
  • Elgar: As Torrents in Summer
  • Lindberg: Shall I compare Thee
  • Stanford: Heraclitus
  • Mantyjarvi: Come Away Death

£10 adults
£5 Under 16s and students