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Musical Director

Paul Carr
Paul Carr MD

Since November 2015 Paul Carr has been Musical Director to Selly Park Singers, he also directs The St Ignatius Singers a choir of twenty who sing at church services around the Midlands. In 2017 Paul directed the specially-formed Black Country Music Education Hubs’ Choir in preparation for their appearance as part of the BBC Proms Youth Choir at the First Night of the Proms, performing John Adams’ ‘Harmonium’ with the BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Symphony Orchestra.
As an accompanist Paul often works with Birmingham Bach Choir (Director Paul Spicer), The City of Birmingham Choir (Director Adrian Lucas) including a CD of Christmas music, The Henry Ley Singers (Director Richard Dawson) recording a CD of choral music by Clive Russell in Keble College Chapel Oxford. Paul has toured with choirs to Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and the USA. In April 2015 he was organist for The City of Birmingham Choir’s concert tour to Paris which included accompanying at Notre-Dame Cathedral and solo performances at La Madeleine and St-Germain-des-Prés. In April 2017 he accompanied the choir’s tour to Vienna, including a performance of Handel’s Messiah in the Stephansdom with the Wiener Domorchester.
Paul trained with Dr Roy Massey MBE at Hereford Cathedral and Professor David Saint at Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating with first-class honours. Paul was Director of Music at St Paul’s, Birmingham for thirteen years until 2016, President of the Birmingham Organists Association for six years until 2014, and in June 2015 was awarded Honorary Membership of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
As an organist, Paul is currently Musician in Residence at Holy Trinity Parish Church Wordsley, Stourbridge and Organist to St Bartholomew’s Parish Church Penn, Wolverhampton. His concert and recital schedule takes him all over the UK. He has also performed in Germany and France, including return recital engagements at Lambertikirche in Münster, Magdeburg Dom and Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. There have been several visits to the USA where highlights include solo recitals at Washington National Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, and  a dedication concert on the new organ in Fourth Church, Chicago.
For over twenty years Paul has given monthly organ recitals in the Midlands, his current series Sunday Afternoon Organ Music takes place at Holy Trinity Wordsley on the first Sunday of every month at 3pm. He also plays around half of the recitals in the Thursday Live series at St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham, where he also recorded his critically acclaimed début solo CD French Flavours.
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Accompanist and Repetiteur

Dick Price

For many years Dick has been SPS’s accompanist and repetiteur. He started his accompanying activities by playing for an Eb bombardon player in the school music competition. He enjoyed this so much that he went on to accompany soloists at the Midland School of Singing, played for Argosy Musical Theatre Company under David Bleach (currently one of SPS’s basses), and was deputy accompanist and conductor at Canoldir MVC. He is also one of the organists at Selly Oak Methodist Church.

Some Members of Selly Park Singers

Sandy Cresswell

I joined the choir around 8 years ago. A friend of mine encouraged me to join her choir. I love everything about SPS- the music, the people and everything that has happened musically for me since I joined.
I started out as an alto but now I am a tenor. I play and sing regularly at a residential home and I have also formed my own folk band, the Sandy Band, with two other choir members.

Wendy Massey

I joined Selly Park Singers because I was cajoled by my neighbour to join him, as he was going to be the choir’s new repetiteur.  20 years later we are both still part of the choir! I have sung a huge variety of repertoire in English, Latin, French, Italian and a little German.  Some works have been quite challenging, taking you outside your comfort zone, others, really exciting and great fun. There is nothing nicer than to forget the real world for a couple of hours a week and come out of a choir rehearsal humming a few bars of music and go home singing. Of course, having a fabulous, fun, enthusiastic musical director helps the process of enriching all our lives with the sound of live music.

Annette Sampson

I joined the choir when I first arrived in Birmingham in 2000. Friends from church invited me to come. I have been singing in choirs since the age of 5 years and every time I have moved I have tried to find another. I love the challenge of new music along with the  singing of ‘old favourites’. As we are not just a ‘Choral Society ‘ we get to sing a great variety of  styles from the truly classical choral ‘work’ to  Cole Porter and very much more recent. We are not at all ’stuffy’ trying always to make everyone feel at home with us and part of us.
I always go home energised and singing!

Bob Walker

My wife and I had been looking to find a smaller choir in which we could sing together (She sang in a large choir for which I didn’t think I’d pass the audition). Coincidentally a pianist I was playing with in a Duke Ellington tribute band often mentioned a small, non-audition choir he’d been the repetiteur with for many years.
And here we are five years later very much enjoying the wide range of music we perform under our inspiring conductor and both the friendships we have made in the choir and the way the choir has enhanced our existing friendships, since a number of our friends have come to the choir’s concerts and stayed to sing.

Frances Young

One day an SPS leaflet came through the door with summer concert details. As it happened I’d been wondering about finding a choir to join as, with some anguish, I faced the future without my son: born with profound disabilities and after 45 years of parental care, he was about to settle in a residential home. I went to the concert, recognised neighbours and former colleagues, loved the music and was rapidly recruited. Apart from hymns in church the last time I’d sung was when a student – a college performance of Haydn’s Creation. Now six years later I’ve found my voice and a wide range of repertoire – not to mention new friendships and a sense of belonging. A return to music-making after years of mainly listening has been rewarding at many levels – physical, emotional, spiritual.

Jenny Marris

I sang in a choir when I was at school and always promised myself I would sing again when I retired. Encouragement to join Selly Park Singers came at just the right moment and I have been a member of the choir for nearly four years. The time has flown by and it is thrilling to think of the huge variety of music we have learned and performed over that period. It is a joy when the lines of new music begin to feel familiar and we build the confidence to sing them in public.
We are lucky to have a musical director who takes our interest in singing seriously and makes the rehearsals fun. I felt welcomed from the very beginning despite my lack of experience and non-musical background. I have started helping out by collecting fees at the beginning of each term and managing the refreshment money. Socialising with refreshments in the middle of each rehearsal evening helps make choir a great place to be on Monday nights.

Béatrice Damamme-Gilbert  
Béatrice Damamme-Gilbert

I joined Selly Park Singers three years ago. I had once attended a concert, invited by a neighbour who is a long-standing member, and much enjoyed it.

I hadn’t been a member of a choir for nearly 44 years ! but missed singing on a regular basis. In the meantime my voice had changed from Soprano to Alto and I felt very rusty when I started but I was made very welcome and other alto singers I sat next to helped me to get my voice (almost) back. I am grateful that the choir is so friendly and supportive. I often feel I am not on top of my part but I thoroughly enjoy the togetherness and the variety of musical experience our musical director introduces us to. He manages to be both fun, encouraging and musically stimulating, challenging us to get to our best possible performance.

I was soon asked to help with the tea/coffee making rota (that was before the lockdown!). Now I am membership secretary and a committee member, which is a good way of getting to know everyone better.