About UsMeet the team behind the Mid Wessex Singers
Alice grew up in Somerton, and started learning the clarinet age 10. She was one of the earliest members of the Somerton Festival Band, and won the Somerton Arts Festival ‘Young Musician of the Year’ on several occasions. At 13 she passed her grade 8 and subsequently earned a music scholarship to Queens College in Taunton. At 17, while studying for her AS Levels, Alice was awarded the Diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, for performance.
After finishing her sixth form studies, Alice was one of 8 clarinettists accepted to the Royal Welsh College of Music that year. During her time there, she took the opportunity to study many facets of music – from conducting and performance coaching, through to Alexander Technique, and Music Therapy.
After re-locating back to Somerset, Alice played in local bands and orchestras, as well as performing solo concerts including the Somerton Arts Festival, and Music by the Lakes in Thorney. Alice also became the Musical Director for a local concert band, only leaving when she had her youngest daughter.
After a car accident interrupted her instrumental career in 2017, Alice has refocused on the voice. Her students range from beginners to diploma level, currently aged 15 to 76, and she is also the Musical Director for the South Petherton Combined Arts Society Choir.
Alice is delighted to have been appointed as Musical Director for the Mid-Wessex Singers for their 2021/22 singing season, and looks forward to being involved in the Somerton community once again.
Accompanist, Committee Member
Sheena graduated with a B. Mus. from Edinburgh University, then P.G.C.E. from Homerton College, Cambridge. She began her teaching career in Cambridge at the two Sixth Form Colleges, then moved to Somerset, mostly in Secondary music teaching. Highlights of those years included being Musical Director of very successful school productions, with some challenging musicals such as Blood Brothers and Sweeney Todd.
Later, with the Somerset Music Service, she taught mostly woodwind, but included some class teaching, ages 7 to 17. Sheena spent many years enjoying being in charge of the musical fun and games for the local Long Sutton Pantomime Society before joining Mid Wessex singers as accompanist.
I just love to sing, I first sang at my school St Monica’s at Warminster.
I have been farming all my life, My husband and I moved to Somerton in 1995 where we still farm along side other business enterprises with our son Cameron. I joined MWS in 2017 and invited to join the committee in 2019. We are a really friendly choir, so pleased I am a member for the social aspect as well as the singing.
From singing in the school choir, and years later overcoming my then toddler’s protestations when I used to sing, I’ve taken part in various Somerton pantomimes and Christian musicals. I was a member of St. Michael’s church choir, becoming a lonely alto when no-one else would sing the part. I was a member of the original Wessex Singers, but left when the singing got too difficult! I eventually joined the renamed Mid Wessex Singers and now enjoy trying to rise to the challenges our Conductor gives us.
I joined the church choir at St Judes in Halifax as a boy which is where I learned to love music. I was subsequently ejected from the church and school choirs when my voice broke at age 12 and my singing days came to a halt as a youth as my time was devoted to sports. I subsequently joined the RAF in which I happily served as an engineering officer for 30 years. It was during a tour in Germany that I joined a choir to sing some choral concerts which I thoroughly enjoyed. 30 years later I became friendly with a choir member who encouraged me to join the MWS in 2014. My lack of an ability to read music well has not discouraged me and I have thoroughly enjoyed the choir.
Committee Member, Marketing
I was an original member of the choir in 1999 for about four years and left for personal reasons. I have now re-joined and am very much enjoying my time there. I was in the Luton Girls’ Choir many years ago and over the years have been in various amateur productions of musicals.
I have been a member of the Rotary Club for about 17 years. This allows me to help with various community events, particularly the Forget Me Not Café. It is a memory café in Langport, run by the Rotary Club, but started by me because of my own personal experience of dealing with dementia. I have been in business for many years, and continue to run my own Lingerie and Bra Fitting Service.
I began singing at school when the music mistress said ‘you will join the choir’! That was many years ago when, against my better judgement, I enjoyed it and have been singing, on and off, ever since. As a teenager I joined the local Church choir and the also the local Choral Society.
In my twenties I married and moved from Berkshire to Dorset where, for some years, I sang tenor in the Wimborne Minster Choir. I eventually had to give that up because of time constraints as I started my own business. During the early days there wasn’t time for singing, when building the business and having a growing family so something had to give. I was subsequently the organist and choirmaster at a number of small churches in the Wimborne area but, again, pressures of work forced me to give it up.
My company is still going, providing specialist telephone equipment for people like Network Rail and Transport for London. Its only since I’ve semi retired to Somerset that there has been time to take up singing, piano and guitar again – all needing a lot of practice and the hopeful recovery of old skills.
When I realised what I had been missing for so many years I joined the Mid Wessex Singers and I found them to be most friendly and sociable group, led by their talented and enthusiastic conductor. I was then asked to join the committee which I did at the 2018 AGM.
Committee Member, Librarian
I have always loved singing and as a child sang at home and in the school choir. As an adult I sang in the choir at St Michael’s Church, Somerton and for 26 years taught pre-school children to sing nursery rhymes. I have been a member of Mid Wessex Singers since 2007 and joined the committee in 2019.
One of the things that the choir brings to us all is a big group of friends. Not only do we have a shared love of singing and music but being part of a community is so good for your well-being. It's been marvellous that lockdown restrictions have started lifting. To...read more
We are very excited as we have a new musical director joining us. This is Alice and we are really looking forward to starting our new singing adventure with her guidance and...read more
As lockdown restrictions are easing, we are cautiously hopeful that life could well be returning to normal once more. That means we are looking forward to getting back to a wonderful programme of regular singing together. Starting in September, we are optimistic...read more
What a fabulous Come and Sing day in Somerton on Saturday 29 February, singing through Handel's Messiah. Our numbers were boosted by visitors from all over the county and further afield. Thank you to our Musical Director, Graham Coatman, for all the inspiration,...read more
David Backhouse, one of our wonderful basses and Sheena Smith, our excellent accompanist and stand in MD have joined the committee. We welcome their knowledge, skills and experience to our...read more
Mid Wessex Singers brought the Christmas spirit to the Somerton area, firstly by some singing in the community for Wessex Care Home residents and for the St Cleers Lunch Club. This was followed by the Christmas concert on Saturday 21 December at West Street...read more
A lovely concert on Saturday 30 November in St Andrew's Church, Curry Rivel, enjoyed alike by singers, musicians and audience. Thanks go to our soloists Ed, Liz, Eleanor, and Rik and to the Mid Wessex Strings for their great contributions. Our particular thanks go to...read more
Thank you to Graham for another enjoyable Come and Sing day on Saturday 5 October in Long Sutton Village Hall, singing 'the birds'. We would also like to thank the visiting singers who boosted our sound and from whom we have received some lovely comments: 'Thank you...read more
What a fun evening we had on 2 July at our Summer Soiree at the lovely venue of Somerton Court. After a picnic on the lawn we sang songs from the shows to entertain our invited guests, all led by our inspiring maestro in the glittering waistcoat, Graham...read more
It was a beautiful sunny day on May 24th 2019, when The Mid Wessex Singers were invited by Langport Dementia Action Alliance to sing at their coffee morning being held in the gardens of The Angel on Bow Street, Langport. We had a fun morning 'singing in a circle'...read more