Bournville Clarinet Choir is dedicated to creating and presenting new music for clarinet ensembles. The choir is an exciting opportunity for committed and enthusiastic clarinettists to rehearse and perform to a high standard while supporting local community events.
Although the majority of our members are amateurs (aged 18+) they include music students, teachers and retired professionals. Some are local Brummies but others travel from as far afield as Coventry, Leicestershire and Gloucestershire. At present there about twenty members mostly playing the standard Bb clarinet as well as Eb, Bass, Contra Alto and Contra Bass.
We rehearse roughly fortnightly in term time at Weoley Hill United Reformed Church, Selly Oak. A few additional ad hoc sessions are arranged to supplement the main rehearsals to allow greater focus on technical aspects of clarinet playing or performance.
The choir holds its own Playday which gives members an opportunity to play new material in smaller groups/quartets as well as ongoing concert repertoire.
We are keen to attract new players of grade 7+ so if you are interested in a free session to try us out, you will find details of how to get in touch on our contact page. You will receive a very warm welcome and usually a slice of homemade cake in the tea break.
Nigel Wood - Music Director
Hailing from Bristol, Nigel studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire where he specialised in saxophone and clarinet performance. He was one of the first students to study the saxophone at the Conservatoire. After graduation, he became a saxophone teacher at the Conservatoire and helped to establish their exam syllabus for that instrument. He was a founder member of the group Saxtet and as part of the group, he was inspired to compose, arrange and later to publish new music for the saxophone resulting in the birth of Saxtet Publications.
Nigel composed many pieces that have been performed in the UK and abroad by such notable saxophonists as Gerard McChrystal and John Harle. His works have been broadcast on both radio and television and several have been recorded on Saxtet's CD Safer Sax and are available as sheet music.
His compositions include Under the Veil which has been performed and broadcast by the BBC Concert Orchestra and more recently performed by the Azerbaijan Symphony Orchestra as part of the Visions of Britain Festival promoted by The British Council.
Cries of the Stentor for soprano and piano was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from the Wigmore Hall. Where Spirits and Demons Dance for choir was commissioned by the National Youth Wind Orchestra's Saxophonia and performed at the Purcell Room. Some of his music has also been published by Boosey & Hawkes and Stainer & Bell.
Nigel continues to write music predominantly for the saxophone which is presently being published by Saxtet Publications. Visit the composer's site: www.soprillo.com.
Alison Kennedy (Eb and Bb)
Playing the little Eb clarinet is good fun (for me, but probably not the neighbours!) I’m proud to be one of the founder members of the Bournville Clarinet Choir - they’re a lovely group of people and we play lots of great music. As well as Bournville Clarinet Choir, I organise the Birmingham Clarinet Choir, play in a clarinet quartet and rehearse with the South Birmingham Sinfonia. I also enjoy making music with my family, going to concerts, reading and riding my bike.
Helen Clegg (Bb)
I used to play in orchestras in Nottingham when I was younger and also play the piano. But since starting work found it harder to find opportunities to play and so am really happy I found the Bournville Clarinet Choir. I love it because it helps take my mind off everything else, as I have quite a busy job.
Maria Bogarra (Bb)
I learned to play clarinet and piano when I was a kid back in Spain. I came to the UK to do a PhD in Mechanical engineering and stopped playing for a few years until I joined BCC. I enjoy being a member, meeting wonderful people and having fun during our rehearsals, workshops and concerts.
Karen Simpson (Bb and Bass)
Originally from Fife in Scotland, I lived all over the world as an Army wife before being posted to Birmingham where we are now settled and where I teach clarinet. I love the variety of playing two instruments with BCC. When I’m not practising (!!!) I love playing golf, running and doing mud runs. I also love spending time with my four grandchildren.
Born in Hereford, I moved to Birmingham to teach in a primary school. This is my second year of playing with BCC. I enjoy the challenge of playing with such an accomplished group of musicians. During the week I teach music to primary school children while weekends are spent catching up with family and church activities. I enjoy gardening when the weather is fine and knitting when it's not.
Chris Elsom (Bb)
A native of Bristol, I have lived in Birmingham since 2001. I played in a clarinet quartet for 20 years but when that disbanded I was grateful for the opportunity to join the Bournville Clarinet Choir as one of the founder members. The interesting and varied repertoire of the choir together with the guidance of our Music Director has done a lot to help develop my playing and I really enjoy being part of the ensemble. I retired in 2017 after 35 years working as a civil and structural engineer and now spend my spare time playing clarinet and recorder and working with my wife on our garden and allotment. In 2018 our garden was one of group in the Bournville area that opened for charity as part of the National Garden Scheme.
Michael Price (Bb)
A born and bred Brummie! At the time I found out about the formation of the Choir I had just stopped full time work. One of my objectives in what some call the third age was to start playing the clarinet again after a break of around 10 years. The challenge of meeting Nigel’s exacting standards, the mix of repertoire and his tactful (well, most of the time) encouragement to play better and the rising standard of the choir make me proud to be one of its founding members. When not playing or singing, I love walking in the mountains (the higher the better), 19th – 21st century opera, symphonic and large scale choral music and European travel. And I am passionate about motor racing!
Tony Kenna (Bb)
Another native Brummie! When my eldest daughter was at primary school she was given the opportunity to take home a clarinet to learn. We both had a go but after several weeks of annoying the neighbours and chasing all the wildlife from the garden, the clarinet went back to school. Although it was not for Laura, I was hooked; especially after hearing the Mozart clarinet concerto at the Birmingham town hall. Since then it's been a crazy wonderful twenty two year roller coaster ride highlighted by being part of a very talented group of musicians in the Bournville Clarinet Choir.
Mae Rohani (Bb)
Since I first picked up a clarinet aged 12 at my home in France, I have loved playing in ensembles, and this group is my favourite yet. In between work and university, I love decorating cakes, singing and reading/watching sci.fi. and fantasy.
Katherine Bozik (Bb)
I've always been musical and learned to play the piano and clarinet when I was young. A few years ago I rediscovered my love of the clarinet after neglecting it for some time. Joining the Bournville Clarinet Choir has given me so much joy, playing and performing with other musicians. I enjoy painting and have done a picture of a clarinet for Bournville Clarinet Choir which has been used for publicising the Summer concerts. You can see some of my work at http://www.katherinegracebozic.com
Kate White (Bb)
I taught Circle Dance for 18 years in Scarborough, North Yorkshire and just two months after moving to Birmingham in 2015, I joined the newly formed BCC. I took up the clarinet late in life as I was longing to make music with others. I have not been playing as long as the other members, yet everyone has been very friendly and encouraging, making our fortnightly rehearsals a very happy time for me. Beside my love of the clarinet, I enjoy singing, gardening, dancing traditional Balkan folk dances and playing with my three year old grandson.
Peter Fielding (Bass, Contra Alto, Contrabass)
After a career playing in orchestras and teaching in the Royal Welsh Conservatoire and University, playing with the BCC gives a focus to my playing in retirement. The original music and interesting, challenging arrangements by our musical director always keeps the choir on its toes. As an antidote to spending time in a very noisy environment, my hobby is developing and caring for Bonsai trees. I am an active member of Ambion Bonsai Club and on the Committee of The Federation of British Bonsai Societies.
Marion Pollock (Bass)
I have always played clarinet in orchestras and chamber groups and for many years taught music in Hertfordshire. Playing Bass in the choir has given me a new outlet for my music. Aside from music, I play golf, tennis and bridge and enjoy gardening.
Sue Catchpole (Bass)
I have always been involved in music in various forms, right from my childhood in Manchester up until my retirement from the schools’ Music Service in Sandwell. Playing Bass lines allows me to enjoy the feeling of underpinning the upper parts. When I’m not involved in music I enjoy crafts of any kind – sewing, embroidery, papercutting, DIY… and spoiling my grandson.
David Parkes (Contra bass)
The third Brummie in the group! I was introduced to music at an early age by being taken to Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta rehearsals by my parents. I studied piano, clarinet, some organ and sang in Choirs until after University when opportunities dried up and work and family life took over. However, I have returned to playing in later life and enjoy it even more. When not playing I ride cycles and motorcycles.
We are very proud to announce the successes of our former members:
Isobel Mortimer (Bb and Eb) went off to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to do a Masters in Performance. She came back to join us as guest soloist in the Tartini Clarinet Concertino in our 2017 summer concert.
Jenny Ackroyd (Bass clarinet) left us to prepare for her final degree recital and then went off to the Royal Academy of Music in London for further sax studies with the eminent composer and saxophonist, John Harle.
Mavis Yardley (Bb) retired from our ranks shortly before her 90th birthday. She now has more time to spend with the new man in her life, John (aged 93). We wish them every happiness.
Equinox Saxophone Ensemble joined us for our first concert in 2016, where we combined forces in a “Baroque to Rock” programme including Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture, Bohemian Rhapsody and River Dance.
We welcomed back their director Alistair Parnell as soloist in our 2018 Summer concert. A world renowned electronic wind instrument player, he performed two pieces on the Roland Aerophone: “Warm Front” (John Dankworth) and “Serendip” composed by our music director Nigel Wood, and premiered just the week before our concert at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia.
Soprano Sarah Wright-Owens appeared as soloist in our 2017 Summer concert in a diverse programme which included Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (Villa-Lobos), a medley from West Side Story (Bernstein) and the aria Erbarme dich, mein Gott from Bach’s St.Matthew Passion.
We were delighted to have the services of percussionist Adrian Fletcher for our 2018 concert. His ‘kitchen sink’ assortment of drums, cymbals, Irish Bodhran and even castanets gave it all such a lift. Thank you Adrian!