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 has relocated to the South West, where he has taken up a post at Bath Spa University.
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, currently touring UK and abroad. Graham is Director of HISS – the Historically Informed Summer School, which he founded in 2010 and which in 2017 will welcome participants from four continents. He is Director of 20,000 Voices, a small charity promoting singing through workshops and projects, which is currently undertaking a 2 year European choral training scheme, ADDUP, with Erasmus+ funding, working with partner organisations in France, Italy and Poland.
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 joined the Mid Wessex Singers nearly three years ago when we moved to Somerton. Singing is very important to me and I have always belonged to a choir wherever we have lived. It is my relaxation, hobby and fun! I enjoy the variety of music we sing in Mid Wessex, and like the challenge of learning new pieces. I joined the choir in 2014 and the committee in 2016.
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.
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 started singing in my church choir aged 16 and sang in the Halle Choir under Sir John Barbirolli. I won a scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music where I studied singing with Marjorie Thomas, later transferring to the Royal Academy, London. where I gained LRAM teaching and ARCM performing diplomas.
I was married for 20 years to a Royal Naval officer and lived in Key West, Florida, USA for two years, teaching music at St Mary Star of the Sea School and singing with various local choirs and doing solo work.
I also lived in Toronto, Canada for two years, singing with Toronto Orpheus Choir, The Tallis Scholars and solo performances including on CBC radio.
On returning to Somerset, I sang with Taunton Choral Society, Somerset Opera Group, Bridgwater Choral Society, Yeovil Choral Society performing soprano solos when required.
I am now Committee Member and Alto with Mid Wessex Singers and a member of Somerton Ukelele Band for fun!!
Mid Wessex Singers were invited to lead the carol singing at the Animal Blessings at the National Animal Welfare Trust, Heaven's Gate Farm on Sunday 2 December. Here are a few of our angelic sopranos and altos, plus Mr...read more
The Mid Wessex Singers' Armistice Concert on Saturday 10 November 2018 was a moving experience for all involved. We were made welcome by the vicar and PCC at St Andrew's Church in Curry Rivel and attracted a large audience including members of local branches of the...read more
We were pleased to be asked to come along and perform at a Charity sing at St. Cleers Lunch Club in Somerton on Wednesday 26th September. The event went really well and was enjoyed by all. The photo above shows Jane Rose, our chairman trying to get everyone organised!...read more
Our 'Come and Sing' day on the 29th September was a wonderful success. We had lots of attendees who all enjoyed taking part in the Workshop Day. Many thanks to Graham Coatman for leading the event and also thanks to all our volunteers who made the day run so...read more
New term starts Tuesday 4th September at West Street Church Hall in Somerton AGM starts at 7.00 Open taster session at 8.00 Please come and try us. We are sure you will have fun! Any questions please feel free to contact...read more
Come and Sing Day 29th September 2018 at Long Sutton Village Hall. Registration from 9.30 am start singing 10.00 am to 4.30. Music to be advised later. £15.00 non members £12.00 members Bring own lunch. Coffee and Tea available.read more
We were please to perform a little private soiree at one of our members house's at Somerton Court, Somerton last week for the benefit of our family and friends. We hope they enjoyed the concert as a 'thank you' for the many hours we are often away from home rehearsing!read more
Nine members of Mid Wessex Singers sang at a wedding in St Mary Major Church, Ilchester on Saturday 23 June. The Singers considered it a joy and privilege to be involved in Jade and Ben's special day, and wish them great happiness in their life together.read more
We welcomed a full audience to join us in our Celebrations in Spring at St Michael's Church, Somerton on Saturday 28 April. The concert was a delectable Spring salad mix of singing, accompanied either by string ensemble, organ or by our pianist, Sheena Smith and...read more
If you are interested in joining to sing a summer medley of music we are rehearsing on Tuesday evenings 7.30 to 9 pm at the West Street Church Hall in Somerton from 15 May to 26 June inclusive. Our performance will be an informal one at our choir social for family and...read more