OUR MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Dr Martin Charles Cook
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.
The Society appointed John Bowen as accompanist in November 2015.
After degree studies in Music and Latin at Birmingham University and post-graduate training in education at University College Cardiff, John Bowen embarked on a career teaching music in schools in Wales, Lancashire, Shropshire and Liverpool (where by coincidence he preceded Martin Cook as Director of Music at the Bluecoat School) and as a professional performer giving recitals on piano and on organ.
In recent years John has moved from the classroom into teaching piano privately and working as a composer. He is Director of Music for Christ Church, Shrewsbury and has recently been appointed as conductor for the Yeoman Singers. Previously he directed the Marches Community Choir where he conducted performances including Rutter’s Gloria and Requiem and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms as well as compositions commissioned by them.
John’s musical interests are broad, performing music from the Baroque to the present day and including Jazz and Ragtime. When not playing piano or organ or working with choirs,John enjoys playing the piano accordion but hopes this admission won’t damage his credentials as a ‘serious’ musician!