About UsMeet the team behind the Mid Wessex Singers
After 25 years as composer, musical director, choral trainer, teacher, accompanist and continuo player in Yorkshire, Graham Coatman relocated to the South West in 2017 and has been Musical Director of Mid Wessex Singers since September 2017.
Director of Leeds Guild of Singers for some 17 years, he established a vibrant choir performing music from medieval to new commissions, whose last season included all 6 of Bach’s motets, appearances at European festivals, and an original historically informed performance of Handel’s Messiah described as “powerful and moving”. He has also directed community choirs, prison choirs, and, for instance, a Choral Spectacular for the 50th anniversary of Leeds Methodist Choir in Leeds Town Hall with over 250 performers, including massed choirs, brass band, soloists and instrumentalists.
An innovative composer, amongst recent works is Being Inbetween, a sound installation for an award winning photographic installation created by photographer and digital artist Carolyn Mendelsohn, which toured UK and abroad. Graham is Director of HISS – the Historically Informed Summer School, which he founded in 2010 and which in 2017 welcomed participants from four continents. He is Director of 20,000 Voices, a small charity promoting singing through workshops and projects, which was involved in a 2 year European choral training scheme, ADDUP, with Erasmus+ funding, working with partner organisations in France, Italy and Poland.
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.
My love of singing started in my teenage years, when I sang with my school and church choirs. A busy career and family life meant that, apart from two brief periods with choirs in Nottinghamshire and Somerset, I did not rekindle that love until my mid-fifties.
I joined Mid Wessex Singers in 2005 and at about the same time I started singing with the choir at Somerset County Council, which is where I was working at the time. Upon retirement I became a member of a community choir so I now enjoy the challenges and the full range of music offered by the two choirs.
As well as singing I enjoy gardening and landscaping, needle-craft, watching, and sometimes scoring for, cricket matches, sailing round the Greek Islands and walking. My husband and I are gradually walking our way around the South West Coast Path, sampling locally made carrot cake along the way.
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 many years ago in the Luton Girls’ Choir and over the years have been in various amateur productions of musicals.
I have been a member of the Rotary Club for about 13 years and help with various community events particularly the Forget Me Not Café, a memory café in Langport which is run by the Rotary Club but was started by me because of my own personal experience of dealing with Alzheimer’s. I have been in business for many years, and to date 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.
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
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
After our successful and enjoyable Grand Viennese Soiree, we had the opportunity to relax with friends and family at our Spring Social on Tuesday 9 April. After a delicious buffet meal it was time to sit back and admire some of the hidden skills and talents...read more
A wonderful evening on Saturday 6 April, re-creating the atmosphere of a Grand Viennese Soiree in St Michael's Church in Somerton. We offered to our full audience a real feast of Viennese music: a taster of Schubert songs, accompanied by Robert Langston on piano, and...read more
Keen singers, you are invited by the Mid Wessex Singers, to experience the motivational guidance of our Musical Director, Graham Coatman, in a summer season of light music. Following our performances of varied and enjoyable music at our Autumn, Christmas and Spring...read more