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Patrick Larley – Music Director

Patrick LarleyPatrick, a freelance composer, conductor, singer and keyboard player, has been Music Director of the Montgomeryshire County Music Festival since January 2008. He is also Music Director of Ludlow Choral Society, founder/director of a professional vocal ensemble, Chudleigh's Company, and formerly Music Director of Birmingham Festival Choral Society – a post which he relinquished in 2016 after eleven very successful years.

Patrick has performed with choral societies around the UK, notably as Evangelist in the Bach Passions and in works of the Baroque, and has been a member of two professional choirs – Wells Cathedral Choir and the BBC Northern Singers. A Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, he has given recitals in many of the country's cathedrals and major churches, and his concerts, at the organ, piano and harpsichord, often include a variety of styles of improvisation – including jazz.

Patrick's compositions encompass a variety of styles including choral, orchestral, instrumental, theatre and advertising. His choral works have been recorded on CD, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performed widely throughout the UK, across Europe and in America. His Memento Mori score for the award winning Aerial Theatre company Ockham's Razor has received performances throughout the UK and Europe and more recently in the Sydney Arts Festival, and he composed music for the first in-house production of Macbeth at Shrewbury's Theatre Severn in April 2017.

Recent choral commissions include The Gentle Earth of Wales (2011), a cantata based on traditional Welsh melodies, The Birmingham Spirituals (2014), commissioned by BFCS and inspired by the words and melodies of African / American spirituals, and The Tree of Peace (2016) – a joint commission for St. Paul's Church, Chichester and Paul-Gehardt Kirche, Berlin.

Patrick's first String Quartet, Iona Sound, was premiered at the Gateway Arts Centre, Shrewsbury in February 2016 and performed again in Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull and Iona Abbey in June 2017, and his Clarinet Trio, Sweet Rememberings, was performed by Hollie Whittles (clarinet) and Anne Tupling (violin) and Patrick (piano) on 22nd February 2018 in the Gateway. A Girl for the Blue was the UK winner in the Ortus International New Music Competition, receiving a performance in New York on June 27th 2015 by Khorikos, the outstanding NYC young chamber choir.

Away from the music platform, Patrick has a keen interest in sport and outdoor pursuits and enjoys discovering Scottish Islands in his campervan. A former faster bowler and rugby union winger, he now continues his sporting and leisure activities in a sea-kayak and on a bicycle – though not at the same time.

For further information, see www.patricklarley.com.  

Stella Gratrix: Llanidloes Choral Society

Stella GratrixStella has been involved in choral singing from schooldays and at Teacher Training College. For many years she was an active member of choral societies and the National Association of Choirs. Since moving to Wales nearly 25 years ago she has sung with Côr Llanwnog, of which she is Deputy Conductor.

Stella was invited to become conductor of Llanidloes Choral Society in 2003 and rehearses choristers from a wide area of South Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, in both Llanidloes and Newtown.

Stella is also the conductor of The Wesley Singers based in Llanidloes. This is a mixed voice choir who have been successful in winning local Eisteddfodau, been commissioned to produce a CD of favourite hymns and have performed twice on the Glanfa Stage in the Millennium Centre, Cardiff. She has also been a folk singer, and through the good humour of the Wesley Singers is able to indulge in her passion of composing and arranging items for the choir, where they have explored the genre of 'West Gallery Music'.

Stella is also Concert Coordinator for the Festival.

Lynne Beck: Welshpool Choral Society

Lynne BeckLynne graduated with a Bachelor of Music (Hons) degree from Kings College, London having also studied violin with a tutor from the Royal College of Music. She went on to do a Post Graduate course at The Institute of Education, London University, after which there followed a varied and interesting career in music teaching where Lynne led Music Departments in both the Primary and Secondary sectors of Education.

After sixteen years in the classroom, Lynne took a break for a year to study for an MA in Music Education at Reading University. This was followed by her appointment as Music Advisory Teacher in Bracknell Forest, Berkshire. As well as advising and assisting teachers in thirty-six schools, one aspect of the role which Lynne greatly enjoyed was organising and coordinating large cross-curricular arts-based events and projects ranging from the annual Primary Schools Carol Concert, which involved over 500 pupils from across the borough, to various national-led Arts initiatives.

Lynne has always been very passionate about choral music. As a teenager she was a member of the School Chapel Choir and went on to become a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. More recently Lynne has been Assistant Director of one of the Military Wives' Choirs.

Lynne has strong family roots in Mid-Wales and decided to return to the area full-time in 2016. She was delighted to be asked to direct the Welshpool Choral Society last year upon the retirement of her predecessor Beryl Jones.

Beryl Jones (retired): Welshpool Choral Society

Beryl graduated from UCW Aberystwyth with a B.Mus degree in 1961 and, after completing a PGCE course in London, was appointed Head of Music at Welshpool High School. After leaving to raise her family she did not return to full-time teaching but has been involved in private coaching and local music-making ever since.

In November 2018 Beryl celebrated 40 years as conductor of Welshpool Choral Society – an anniversary also shared by the choir’s accompanist, Margaret Benbow. During the previous 40 years, in addition to their involvement in the Festival, Welshpool Choral have given annual Christmas Concerts and Beryl has been very grateful to the choir for the opportunity during this time to perform a number of her own original compositions. She retired as conductor after the 2019 Festival concert, and passed the baton on to Lynne Beck.