OUR MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Shrewsbury Choral Society appointed Dr Martin Charles Cook as Musical Director in July 2014.
Dr Martin Cook originally trained at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied piano and piano accompaniment. After graduating he emigrated to Canada where he worked, for four years as a school music specialist in Newfoundland. It was in this role that he was first noticed as a choral conductor and as a result went on to study choral conducting at Boston University.
After returning to the UK he developed his career in teaching, his last post being as Director of Music at The Blue Coat School in Liverpool, but he maintained an active musical career beyond the classroom, both as a pianist and a conductor. His high school choirs toured regularly throughout Europe, performing in Venice, in San Marco, Vienna, St Stephen’s and Votivkirke, Maastricht in the Basilica, Prague in St Nicholas’, and in the cathedrals of St Sebastian and Santander in Cantabria. For ten years he conducted the Chester Music Society Junior Choir and under his direction they twice reached the semi-finals in “The Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year Competition” and also received awards at the Montreux International Choral Festival and The Riva del Garda International Choral Festival. From 1997 – 2009 Martin was Musical Director of Sandbach Voices. Under his direction they performed many of the major choral works, including Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s B minor Mass, Brahms’ Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Haydn’s Creation and a host of other works.
In 2009 Martin was offered an Assistantship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA in order to study for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting. While there he assisted in the delivery of music theory courses, conducted the All Collegiate Choir and taught conducting to undergraduates. His dissertation is: “A Survey of The Sacred Choral and Orchestral works of Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941). After completing his degree he worked in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as Director of Music Ministries at Christ Episcopal Church for a year, before returning the UK. He returned in November 2013 and is now working as a freelance conductor and teacher of Piano, Organ and Voice.
William Hayward trained at the Royal College of Music under Sir Adrian Boult, Herbert Howells, Richard Latham, James Lockhart and Richard Austin.
As a concert organist he has given recitals in Notre-Dame, Paris, Westminster Abbey and Gent Cathedral, Belgium, and was Master Of The Music at Shrewsbury Abbey from 1995 to 1999.
As a composer he has written nine oratorios, most recently Mary Of Nazareth (composed in 2008) and a good deal of instrumental music.
With singing star Russell Watson he has appeared as conductor at prestigious venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the new Oscars Centre in Hollywood, Kodak Theatre, which he opened with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. There have also been tours to Japan. the Philippines and New Zealand.
William has also been working with Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, appearing as pianist with her in the Tsunami Relief Concert at Cardiff Millennium Stadium, and conducting her second album Second Nature.
He also arranges for many artistes including Blake and The Soldiers and has made several recordings with the City Of Prague Orchestra.
Organ appearances in 2013 include Aberystwyth University, where William will play for the annual Graduation ceremonies: Carlisle Cathedral, where Shrewsbury Abbey Choir will sing for a weekend during the Cathedral Choir holidays: and Ghent Cathedral in Belgium, where William will give a recital in the International Organ Festival.