Past musicians

Previous choir pianists and musicians

Article Index

 

We have been frequently asked by young musicians if there is a chance to accompany the choir as an instrumentalist. We have a series of young soloists that we incorporate regularly all have accompanied the choir on many occasions, and both have performed solo recitals.

We have also invited musicians from friends and families of the choir to join us in our concerts. We try to include them at least once a year, to increase variety.

Over the years we have had the experience of James Olsen, Michael Segal, Louisa Abraham, Serena Aylward, Tim Segal, Rebecca Segal and Tom Chapman. All have gone on to great things in their own spheres of interest: James and Serena have read music at Cambridge and Tom started doing so at York in the autumn of 2007.

 All our teenage pianists have said over the years that playing for BJC (and some for BYV) has been one of the things that they’ve loved most in their musical life - and that’s saying something, when you think of all their other opportunities at school an elsewhere. The attendance by each pianist has been close to 100% over the years, after all.

 


James Olsen

James Olsen was the first assistant director of the Junior Choir and was involved in conducting and accompanying the choir from 1995 until 1999.

In 2000 he wrote the libretto and music of a children's opera for the choir which they performed at Anerley Town Hall the same year. James subsequently read music at King's College, Cambridge, where he gained a double starred first.

After studying composition with Wolfgang Rihm in Karlsruhe, he undertook a Master's at King's College, London and a doctorate at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is now a professional composer, his works having been performed by, amongst others, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. He also teaches composition, music history and analysis at the University of Cambridge. You can keep in touch with James at http://jamesolsen.eu

 

 


 

Anna Porritt

Anna attends Jags in Dulwich where she plays the piano and oboe.

 

 


 

 

Megan White

Megan attends Jags in Dulwich where she plays the piano and violin.

 

  

  


 

Ben Davies

Ben attends St. Olave’s, Orpington where he plays the piano, guitar and trumpet.

 

 


 

 

Ivan Berdnikov

Ivan attends Harris City Acadamy in Crystal Palace where he plays the piano and guitar.

 

 


 

 

Niamh Gallagher ↑ back

Niamh attends Langley Park Girls school where she plays the piano, violin, viola and flute

 

 


 

 

Aisling Gallagher ↑ back

Aisling attends Langley Park Girls school where she plays the piano, saxophone and violin.

 

 


 

 

Sophie Kale ↑ back

Sophie studies music at Royal Holloway College - Universty of London. She played the piano, which she started when she was five, and the oboe when she was seven, and attained Grade 8 on both instruments whilst with the choirs.  She was been an active member of the Junior Choir since 2005, and when she started with Youth Voices in 2007, she became one of the piano accompanists for the juniors. She regularly sang solos and duets and occasionally played the oboe when required in an orchestral piece.  Also she has had music theory lessons with John. 

 

 


 

Bonnie Callaghan ↑ back

Bonnie studies music at Goldsmiths and has continued her singing to a very high standard - she has sung professionally in "Albert Herring" in a production in Italy and continues to enjoy all aspects of music and performance.

 


 

Grace Callaghan ↑ back

 

Grace studies music at Royal Northern College of Music , Manchester and continues her love of all things flute and musical performance.

 


 

 

George Godsmark ↑ back

George joined the Beckenham Junior Choir in 2004, alongside his sisters Elizabeth and Laura. George has been playing for the choir since 2007. He is having piano lessons with John and also studying the Organ and completed his  grade 8. George attended Harris City Academy in Crystal Palace and  is a member of the South London Organist Society. George also attended Trinity on Saturdays. He has now sadly left the choir to go to York University to study Music.

 

Elizabeth Godsmark ↑ back

Elizabeth joined the Beckenham Junior Choir in 2004, alongside her brother George and sister Laura. When the opportunity to play the piano for the choir came up Elizabeth jumped at the chance and has been playing since 2009. She attended Cator Park School, and her favourite subjects are French, English and Art. Outside school she enjoys tennis, swimming and going to the cinema.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Charlie Warren ↑ back

Charlie joined to sing in the Beckenham Junior Choir in 2001 and left when he joined The London Oratory School, in which he is now a 6th former.

He was taught piano by John up to grade 8 and is working on his grade 8 organ, as well as playing the trumpet and singing in the London Oratory Schola.

He attended the 'Organ Scholar Experience' course in Cambridge in the summer of 2010, which was organised by the Royal College of Organists, and has become an organ scholar in September 2011. Charlie was an organ scholar at Oxford University, he is currenty Organ Scholar at St. Mary's Battersea and is studying for his Masters degree. 

 

  

 

Becky Warren ↑ back

Becky joined the Beckenham Junior Choir in 2001. John taught Becky piano up to grade 8, and she joined the choirs to play the piano in 2008. Becky studied at Southampton University, and music technology in Berlin and works in publishing.

 

 


 

 

Tom Chapman ↑ back

Tom originally joined Beckenham Junior Choir in 1995 and left in 1999. He then returned in 2002 as a guest pianist and accompanied us in our production of Dracula by Carey Blyton. He then later returned to our team as a regular accompanist, attending our weekly practices and playing at our concerts. Tom is also an accomplished Bassoonist and a singer of high standard. His sister, Emily has accompanied the choir as part of a musical ensemble, playing her Oboe on several occasions.

"John Webber has been a massive influence on my life. He taught me piano from a young age and introduced me to singing."
Tom achieved his Grade 8 piano in 2006, after 10 years of piano lessons with John Webber. He has now gone on to study music at York University.
“John is very good at giving opportunities. He’s amazing at building children’s confidence to perform in a friendly environment that they never thought was possible. John’s ability to organise has given children the chance to play and make music with other children of similar ages from many different schools.”
Tom believes that accompanying the choir greatly helped his piano playing as it introduced him to a wide variety of music and increased his knowledge of many different styles and techniques.

We have just heard from Tom who says “I have had a marvellous experience studying music at York University, learning about composing music and writing a number of pieces myself, including a full scale requiem.
Now that I have finished I’m going to New Zealand for a year to work in the music department of a school in Wanganui on the North Island.”

An update has been received from New Zealand! Tom says:

"To keep you up-to-date, I am doing very well in NZ! Working very hard teaching all these kiwi kids. Their work ethic is not like English students, a lot of the kids will finish school and then go back to the farm or to the army etc, and those that want to go to uni are only driven to get minimum grade required, after that they don't care. Teaching them is sometimes difficult therefore but its an interesting challenge. I have been teaching ukulele to the younger kids and doing some really gritty stuff with the cleverest ones in the top year, including Britten's War req, penderecki and Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem. About to get ripped into some of the Brahms Req also. They are far more fun to teach than the rest!  Although my main job is with the choir, i have been conducting the school chapel choir, who are ok. It takes them a long time to pick anything up and their sight reading skills are pretty bad, no surprises i suppose. the majority can't read music! But none the less there are some keen kids in there.  Starting a smaller chamber group soon who will be tackling some more interesting repetoire which is exciting. 
 
I will soon be packing my bags and flying off to the south island in their spring holiday, apparently thats the best time to go as the scenary is just beautiful.  We are getting a train across the island to see some of the glaciers etc. then hiring a car and i am driving round the bottom and back round.  All totalling up about 2wks of travel.  I can't wait for that, will be nice to get out of the school for a bit, as much as i like it, it's easy to get stuck in the bubble! Hoping to go to Australia in the summer but currently thats all in the planning."

 

 

 


 

 

 

Rebecca Segal

John taught Becky piano up to grade 8, and Becky played the violin up to grade 7. Becky has a great personality and was much loved by us all for her fun and enthusiasm.
"I was in the choir from about 1995 til 1999. I played solo for concerts on violin and for group instrumentals and then I joined the choir accompanying in 2003 'til 2006 when I went to university in York.
It was great to be in the choir while my brother Mike was there as accompanist. My mum always remembers one of Mikes first concerts, he accompanied my first solo of "Leaning on a Lamp-post".
It was a great experience to combine my love of music with working with the children. John offers such brilliant opportunities and its such good fun with a great mix of different types of music".”

 

 

 

Tim Segal

Tim (the middle member of the family and John Webber's godson) offered to play for us for a few weeks when we were without a regular pianist, between Serena and Tom / Becky.

 

 


 

 

Serena Aylward

"I began singing with Beckenham Junior Choir when John set it up, in 1993. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years as a chorister, learning to sing a wide variety of music and performing in the termly concerts. After I left the choir, I continued singing at secondary school, and also continued my piano lessons with John, both of which led to my re-involvement as an Assistant Director, from 1999 to 2003. This valuable experience of teaching, conducting and accompanying played a large part in my musical education, which eventually led to my reading Music at Cambridge University, and on into my present vocation as a singer, conductor and singing teacher.
I truly believe that the great fun I had as a young chorister helped to foster my life-long love of music, and for that reason I will always have fond memories of my time with Beckenham Junior Choir.” 

 


 

 

 

Louisa Abraham

"I started helping out with the choir in 1998 as a pianist, along with Michael Segal, and remained with them until I finished school in 2001. During this time I was fortunate enough to be a part of many concerts in a number of different venues, including Southwark Cathedral (where we did Evensong), St George's in Beckenham, Beckenham Baptist Church and Beckenham Public Hall. The main works performed included Jonah-Man Jazz, Sweeney Todd and The Golden Touch (by James Olsen, former assistant director of the choir).

I greatly enjoyed my time with Beckenham Junior Choir and am pleased to see that they have gone from strength to strength since I left them 7 years ago."

 

 


 

 

Michael Segal

Mike was a wonderful person to have around; enormous commitment and dedication. He made great strides in the time that he was with us. A highlight for him was playing a complicated 7-page piece by C V Stanford on Southwark Cathedral organ for the big Evensong with Amici Cantantes on Feb. 3rd, 2001.

"John taught me the piano and organ for over ten years in total and asked me at the end of 1998 if I would like to be involved in BJC. From 1999 to 2001 I accompanied the choir on the piano, taught songs, conducted and also played a few solos in concerts.
My main memories of the choir are how enthusiastic the children were, and how the main aim was that they would have fun through their music. I think the children in particular liked us allowing so many of them to do little solos, even the younger ones and the slightly less confident singers.
Personally I very much enjoyed my time with BJC and it was a great experience for me..”