On a chilly Saturday, Ian Hooker, local conductor and formerly head of music at Dr Challoner's Grammar School, spent just three hours in rehearsal with 99 amateur singers and shaped them into a choir that put on a very credible performance of the stunning Requiem and Cantique de Jean Racine by Fauré that same evening. The Come and Sing Fauré event was organised by Friends of the Belarusian Children's Hospice (UK), Friends of BCH, in co-operation with the Amersham and Chesham Bois Choral Society, AMCHOR, to raise money for the care of terminally ill and profoundly disabled children in Belarus. The Free Church in Amersham was full to bursting. The seating for the record sized choir flowed down from the altar area and into the front third of the body of the church. The 90 strong audience filled the back two thirds. The afternoon was fun and the evening was hugely enjoyed by one and all. The icing on the cake was raising a profit of £2,267 which is almost the equivalent to a year's salary for a nurse in Belarus. Chairwoman of Friends of the Belarusian Children's Hospice, Daryl Ann Hardman, said after the concert, "How fantastic to know that by the generous gift of their incredible musical skills for a day, Ian Hooker and the two marvellous soloists, Tim Harper rector of St Mary's in Old Amersham and Betty Makharinsky from Chalfont St Giles, have helped to ensure that one more nurse can be employed next year at the Belarusian Children's Hospice. She will be able to care for 30 or so very ill children and their families. AMCHOR Chairwoman Sarah Vize commented, "Singing together is tremendous fun and it is double the pleasure to be able to do it for such a good cause. I would like to encourage everyone who took part in this most enjoyable event to come along and join AMCHOR. A warm welcome awaits you all." The choir was accompanied by local organist Alex Flood.
Ian Hooker, conductor
Ian Hooker began to study the piano at the age of eight, by sixteen he was organist and conductor of the choir at his local church and at nineteen was invited to conduct the Henry Wood Promenaders’ Choir and play the organ in a series of London concerts to launch the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children. In 1968 Ian was awarded the Beckwith Foundation Scholarship at the Royal College of Music where he studied piano with Kendall Taylor and Celia Arieli, organ with Sydney Campbell and composition with Herbert Howells. In 1971, after a year’s postgraduate study, Ian was appointed Head of Music at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Amersham. Ian gained an MA in Music Education at York University and developed his conducting career during a sabbatical year in 1986. He then resumed his post at Dr Challoner’s, until retiring from full-time teaching in 2005. Ian now spends his time conducting, accompanying, examining and advising on educational matters. Ian became Director of Music of Amchor in 1981. Together they have performed a very wide range of challenging and interesting choral repertoire. He is particularly keen to encourage young musicians and numerous expert young instrumentalists and singers have performed at Amchor’s concerts. Ian’s ambition is for the choir to flourish and continue to provide a valuable opportunity for the local community to become involved in high-quality musical performance.
Alex Flood, accompanist
Composer, conductor and organist Alexander Flood read Music at Oxford, with John Caldwell and Guy Newbury, and attended the composition classes of Robert Sherlaw-Johnson and Robert Saxton. He held successively the organ scholarships of Jesus College, Oxford, and St Albans Cathedral, having studied with John Wellingham and at the Norddeutschen Orgelakademie. Postgraduate studies culminated in a Ph.D. in Composition from King’s College, London, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His supervisors were the Argentine composer Silvina Milstein, and George Benjamin, pupil of Messiaen and Goehr. Alex now divides his time between performing, teaching, and composing. In addition to being Assistant Director of Music at St Peter’s Church, St Albans, he conducts Radlett Choral Society and Sandringham Community Choir, and regularly accompanies Vox Cordis.
Tim Harper, baritone
Tim trained as an opera singer at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Constance Shacklock and Henry Cummings. After a period working as a professional musician, vocation began to creep up and so he took time out for reflection while earning a living as Head of Music teaching in a South London Comprehensive School. Tim was Ordained in 1986 and has been Rector of Amersham with Coleshill for some years. He pops up periodically as the Vicar in Midsomer Murders, the next time being the 100th episode to be shown in the new year.
Betty Makharinsky, soprano
Betty is in her second year of studying for a BA in Music at the University of Oxford. A choral scholar at Exeter College, she currently studies voice with Nelly Mericiou and Giles Underwood. She performed the roles of Philidel & Cupid in Purcell's opera King Arthur (Westminster Abbey, 2010). Betty also took part in an Homage to Schumann recital with Alexander Ardakov (May 2012, St John's Smith Square) and performed the role of Amahl in Menotti's opera Amahl and the Night Visitors(Dec 2012, Lincoln College, Oxford). Future engagements include participation in a concert at the Cadogan Hall (Nov 2013) and performance of the role of Susannah in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (Nov 2013, Oxford).