When Bingham and District Choral Society and Southwell Choral Society performed their joint concert of French music in the beautiful venue of Southwell Minster last  weekend (7th May 2016), they were supported by a wealth of local talent. Each of the soloists performing with the choirs has strong links to the area.  Abigail Broughton sang the solo soprano part in Poulenc’s Gloria, while baritone Stephen Cooper and treble Alfie Smith were soloists in the Fauré Requiem.  Roger Bryan performed the Poulenc Organ Concerto.

Abigail BroughtonAbigail Broughton was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield and began singing when she was six. She attended the Minster School in Southwell and also became a principal soloist in the Cantamus Girls’ Choir before winning the title of Nottingham Young Musician of the year in 2009. Since then, she has continued to scale new heights. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 with a First Class Honours degree and is currently enrolled on the Master of Arts course. Equally at home on the stage or in the recital room, Abigail is developing an impressive career at home and abroad. She made her  Aldeburgh Festival debut in 2014 and has performed in a number of concert venues in the UK.  Last year she undertook a tour of concerts in Boston, New York, Leipzig and London in collaboration with the Juilliard School under the baton of Masaaki Suzuki.

Stephen Cooper also has close links with Southwell Minster, where he is an Auxiliary Lay Clerk. He is a member of Nottingham Bach Choir and frequently takes solo roles in its concerts, including Christus in Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Minster in 2012 and baritone soloist in Brahms’ German Requiem in 2013. In July this year, Stephen and his father John will be marking the centenary of the the Battle of The Somme in a Friday lunchtime recital at the Minster, to include songs by George Butterworth, who died at The Somme in August 1916.

Alfie Smith, treble, is a pupil of Minster School and a chorister at the Minster.

Organ soloist Roger Bryan, who lives and works in Newark, has had a distinguished career as a recitalist at home and abroad, performing with many leading orchestras. He has made an enormous contribution to musical life in the region. From 1992 until 2009, Roger was Master of the Song School at Newark.  He was also for several years Musical Director of the Lincoln Chorale, Lincolnshire’s well-established chamber orchestra. He is currently Musical Director of Newark Choral Society and also of the Trent Chamber Academy, based on Newark’s internationally famous School of Violin Making. He was for many years the accompanist to the Bingham and District Choral Society, retiring from that role last year. Roger also has a considerable reputation as a choir trainer, conductor and teacher.

With such a strong team of soloists and two fine choirs drawn from local communities, the concert filled the Minster with a glorious sound. The conductor was Guy Turner, who is Music Director of Bingham and District Choral Society and also a Lay Clerk at Southwell Minster.