Classical Music Festival programme confirmed for 2020


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“It was one of the most fun things we’ve done in years!” says David Haines, Musical Director of community choir South Devon Singers, after their appearance on Michael Chequer’s evening programme on BBC Radio Devon last week.   “Michael made every single choir member feel relaxed, welcome and valued as a guest during the middle hour of his evening programme” says Haines.    


The non-auditioned, open-to-all choir, based in Teignmouth and Ivybridge, performed four songs from Granny Galactica, originally written as a children’s science musical by Haines thirty years ago, but now adapted for adult performance.  The concert performances - with narrators rather than stage action - will take place in Yealmpton (the site of its first premiere in 1989) on 6th October and at Sidmouth’s Norman Lockyer Observatory on 12th October.

Michael Chequer conducted interviews with David and with four other members of the choir, both about their experience of being in a choral group, and about their personal lives and careers.  


Jane Clark, from Ivybridge, said “whenever you go and sing, especially with a community choir, it really boosts you up. Sometimes joining a choir can make such a big difference to your mental health as well as your physical health.”


Jeromy Rowett, a furniture-maker from Yealmpton and choir member for well over a decade said, “I was slightly cajoled into joining, but all these years later - I love it.  It’s one of these choirs where, every rehearsal, a good proportion of it is spent laughing.”


During her interview, Lorraine Adams - a founder member of the choir in 2004 - said “I learn lots of things from David’s science songs.  I can answer questions on University Challenge because I know them!”  


The final interviewee, Ian Shields, backed up Lorraine’s point by recounting how his son, Joe, was the only person in a group interview when applying to study physics at Oxford University who knew - when asked - the distance from Earth to the Sun - and all because he’d learnt Haines’ song Ninety-Three Million Miles Away as a child at Gatehouse School, Dawlish.  Joe is now doing a PhD and - tongue firmly in cheek - the composer claimed it was all thanks to him!


“There was universal acclaim amongst choir members for Michael Chequer’s skills as a presenter, host and interviewer” says David, “and he’s invited us for a return visit not too far in the future.  We can’t wait!”.


Details of how to join the South Devon Singers, and of their forthcoming performances, are on their website at  Or call 01626 870107 to find out more.


South Devon Singers and their MD (David Haines) will be on BBC Radio Devon from about 8-9pm Wednesday 24th July.


There'll be interviews, and we'll be singing a few numbers live from my musical Granny Galactica, a concert version of which we'll be performing in Yealmpton and Sidmouth this October. Do listen in if you possibly can!


The programme is available for 28 days on listen again


Here's the link


starts at around 1.08.00 into the programme (just after 8pm)

South Devon Singers, the community choir with branches in both Teignmouth and Ivybridge, is marking the thirtieth anniversary of the premiere of Granny Galactica, the children’s musical written by their Musical Director, David Haines, with concert performances in Yealmpton and Sidmouth this autumn.
“The musical has had many community and school productions”, says David, “but this is the first concert performance, with live action replaced by narrations and some of the original dialogue.”
David describes the work - the story of a retired astronomer exploring the galaxy as a passenger in an alien starship - as a turning point in his career.  Much of his work has been informed by his passion for science, and the scientifically-accurate songs in Granny were later incorporated into his ‘science oratorios’, Powers of Ten and Lifetime, which have received performances at science festivals in both the UK and USA.  Indeed Powers of Ten opened the USA’s first National Science and Engineering Festival, in Washington DC, on the perfect date - 10.10.10 - performed by a choir of 250 singers.
“My science-based work attracted the attention of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology”, says David, “and I was appointed the world’s first science festival Songwriter-in-Residence.  I’ve worked in this role nearly every year since the festival began in 2007, helping stage science-based choral concerts, and leading hundreds of science songwriting workshops at schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of MIT and Harvard.”
Although Granny Galactica is primarily a musical about cosmic phenomena such as Black Holes, Red Supergiants, Planets and Quarks, it packs a powerful environmental punch towards the end when we meet the Fnirks, a race of well-meaning but careless aliens who wreck planet after beautiful planet in their search for the perfect home.  When they reject Earth as too spoiled already by humanity’s depradations, the Earthlings return home determined to campaign for humans to change their ways. The message is as relevant now as when the piece was written in 1989, only more urgent than ever.
David says “There is still plenty of time for new singers to join us for this autumn’s performances of Granny Galactica.  Choir members need no previous experience, or ability to read music, and can be any age.  We provide full practice materials, including tutor tracks, so you can learn all the music by ear.”




Dull, dated and dreary? No!

Fun, fresh and friendly? Yes!

Teignmouth’s Classical Music Festival qualifies on all counts: fun because its performers really do enjoy taking part and communicate that sense of enjoyment to their audiences, fresh because classical music is a vibrant contemporary art form, and friendly because its events take place in a relaxed atmosphere throughout the town, from the newly-rebuilt Pavilions to the intimacy of well-loved cafés.

This year’s Festival, organised by South Devon Singers, runs over two weekends: Friday 10th to Sunday 12th March in Teignmouth and Saturday 18th to Sunday 19th March in Chudleigh. This is the fifth such Festival and, once again, it is attracting a wide range of participants: about 200 musicians at the last count!

“Our aims are fivefold,” explains Rachael Shearmur, the Festival’s Director. “To make classical music accessible to people of all backgrounds and budgets, to draw on local talent, to combine the skills of professional and amateur musicians, to encourage participation by people of all ages and to commission and/or facilitate the performance of new work.

The programme of events opens on the evening of Friday 10th March with South Devon Singers’ own concert at St Michael’s Church, featuring original music (including a song premiere) by their MD and Festival composer-in-residence, David Haines, with guests: poet Matt Harvey and harpist Luc Walpot. This is followed by an informal recital at Old Java Coffee House by double bass player David Heyes and flautist Michelle Underwood.

Saturday’s events begin at 10am in St Michael’s with a series of mini-recitals featuring mainly young music students and continue at 2.30pm with the intriguing combination of the Gioisca Trio (soprano Héloïse West, trumpeter Claude Lamon and pianist David Davies). The evening moves to the Pavilions with a performance by the Torbay Symphony Orchestra, newcomers to the Festival. Their programme includes music by Debussy, Schumann and Bartók.

Meanwhile, on Teignmouth’s café scene, the Teign Piano Trio accompany afternoon tea at the Oystercatcher’s, where they are followed at lunchtime on Sunday 12th by the strains of David Bailey’s gentle guitar playing.

Later that afternoon at 3pm St Michael’s welcome back the Exeter Youth Orchestra, firm Festival favourites, then close their hosting of events at 6pm with choral evensong, sung by the St Peter’s Singers of Exeter Cathedral. The final event of this first weekend, Pop-Up Opera’s performance of Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi, takes place at 7.30pm at Teignmouth URC.

Both Chudleigh events are being held in the town’s lovely parish church: Red Earth Opera’s Another Night at the Opera at 7.30pm on Saturday 18th March and the Exeter Railway Band’s lively and varied concert at 4pm on Sunday 19th.


Scene from Pop-up Opera photo by Richard Lakos



Not satisfied with an already packed weekend, the organisers of Teignmouth's Classical Music Festival (6th-8th March) have added an additional two events, both unticketed and free (though donations will be gladly received).

The first of the two events actually precedes the festival itself.  At 5pm on Sunday 1st March, Trinity School English teacher, Joan Potts, will lead a lively discussion at Finley Brown's Café on a selection of poems by William Blake, Charles Causley and John Keats.  The poems chosen are those featuring in the festival's opening concert the following Friday, 6th March at the United Reformed Church at 7.30pm, performed by South Devon Singers.  

The poems include several from Blake's bittersweet "Songs of Experience", Causley's chilling portrayal of evil in "Innocent's Song", and Keats' rollicking, racy doggerel, "Dawlish Fair".

Composer of those choral settings, David Haines, said "I have to admit that even I - despite setting the poems to music - find a few of the lines pretty obscure.  It'll be great to discuss them with members of both the choir and audience, and see if we can dig down to the heart of the poems with Joan's help."

8th March 2015 from 1pm to 2.30pm will see Teignmouth's very own international guitar star, the charismatic Adam Westcott, filling the air of Oystercatchers Cafe with the vivid, vivacious and hypnotic music of modern flamenco, inspired by Adam's musical hero and mentor, the late Manitas de Plata, who died in November 2014 at the age of 93.

Adam's late-nighter at last year's festival was a huge hit, and interest will be high, so reservations for lunch are highly recommended.  He spends much of his time entertaining passengers on high class cruise-liners all around the world, and is planning a UK concert tour later this year.  This is a rare opportunity to catch this rapidly rising star performing in his home town.



Adam Westcott with Oystercatchers Café proprietor Jan Childs

Joan Potts with Finley Brown's proprietors Martin Tallon and Faye Stokes



There cannot be many events which bring together handbell ringers, opera singers, harpists, cathedral organists, a double bass duo and a full youth orchestra, but this is just a flavour of some of the musicians performing in the third Teignmouth
Classical Music Festival next month.


The Festival - organised by Teignmouth-based South Devon Singers - runs from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th March. About 200 musicians are taking part – the youngest aged 11 and the oldest over 80.

“We want to remain a locally-based event, drawing on local talent,” explains David Haines, the Festival’s Joint Artistic Director. “We aim also to combine the musicianship of professionals and amateurs, encouraging a high standard of performance but also broad participation.”


The programme of events includes, on the Friday evening, South Devon Singers’ own concert at Teignmouth URC with guest soprano Héloïse West, followed by an informal recital at Old Java Coffee House by harpist Luc Walpot.


Saturday’s events at St Michael’s Church open with a series of mini-recitals mainly featuring young music students. At lunchtime, soprano Margaret Aagesen-Hughes

gives a recital of songs bringing a taste of spring to the air. The Ockment Valley Handbell Ringers then combine with Wells Cathedral School Wind Quintet for an intriguing afternoon performance, followed in the evening by Exeter Cathedral’s two Organists in an unusual concert where organ and piano vie for attention.

Meanwhile, on Teignmouth’s café scene, Hannah Barlow-Epps’ Palm Court Trio entertains those taking afternoon tea at the Oystercatcher’s and mandolinist Marc Woodward delights the Old Java Coffee House audience with a late evening gig.


On Sunday afternoon, St Michael’s welcomes the vibrant Exeter Youth Orchestra followed by choral evensong sung by the excellent St Peter’s Singers of Exeter Cathedral.

The Festival closes with Red Earth Opera’s performance of Mozart’s Idomeneo, at Teignmouth URC.


Thanks to generous sponsorship, donations and underwriting from Teignbridge District Council, Devon County Council and the Exeter and District Classical Music Trust those benefiting from the concessionary rate can attend all five full-length concerts, the Saturday lunchtime recital and the two late-night café concerts for an amazing £23. This is extraordinarily good value for a programme of such variety and quality.


Full details of the programme can be found at Tickets can be purchased from Festival Administrator Sheila Townsend (01626 870107 or or from the Tourist Information Centre.

St Michael's Church and United Reformed Church



Two of Teignmouth’s many welcoming cafés will play host to events in this year’s Teignmouth Classical Music Festival.  


On Friday 6th and Saturday 7th March, the Old Java Coffee House will welcome music-lovers to late-evening solo recitals on instruments which could hardly be more different, despite both being of the “strummed, stroked and plucked” variety, each featuring music in a wide range of styles from Baroque to Classical, Romantic to Contemporary.


Paignton-based classical harpist, Luc Walpot ,will be the star of Friday’s recital, with a wide-ranging repertoire to include wonderful music by Handel, Debussy and Gershwin amongst others - as well as by Luc himself.


Saturday evening will see well-known local mandolin-player Marc Woodward play a similarly varied sequence of works, including music by Vivaldi, Beethoven and Hoagy Carmichael.  


Both recitals will be informal events - the soloists introducing their programme item by item.  A wide range of drinks and snacks will be available beforehand and at the interval, with the café opening from 9pm, and music from 9.45-11pm.  


On Saturday afternoon, meanwhile, another familiar face on the Teignmouth music scene - the multi-talented Hannah Epps Barlow- will lead her chamber ensemble in a delightful afternoon of Palm Court Music at the Oystercatcher’s Café, as the audience partake of delicious cream teas and cakes.  A relaxed programme of light classical music will accompany the genteel clatter of cake-forks and the hushed chatter of ladies and gentlemen of the town.  There is no entry free for this event, but it has proved popular in the past, so you may like to book a table.


Details of the full programme for the 3-day festival are available at, and brochures are widely available around town, including at the Tourist Information Centre.   Prices are as low as possible, thanks to generous funding from Teignmouth Town Council, Teignbridge District Council, Devon County Council and Arts Council England.



Oystercatchers Café and Old Java Café



After a very busy four weeks leading up to Christmas when they performed on no fewer than nine occasions in venues as varied as Dawlish Station and Buckland Abbey, South Devon Singers are now preparing in earnest for their next concert in March. This will be the opening event of the Teignmouth Classical Music Festival which runs from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th March. The Festival is now in its third year and is organised by South Devon Singers through their Musical Director, David Haines, their Administrator and Treasurer, Sheila Townsend, and the Chair of the Choir Events Committee, Rachael Shearmur.

South Devon Singers has been very fortunate in securing a generous grant from the Arts Council to commission some new work from David to be premièred at the concert.

The centrepiece is a song cycle called Songs of Experience, which consists of settings of nine of William Blake’s poems from the collection of the same name, together with two further Blake works, Never Seek to Tell Thy Love and an extract from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. David composed the songs for soprano solo and piano when he was a student, between 1972 and 1979. They were later revised in 1984. A performance of the original version was broadcast on Radio 3 in 1982 and the revised work was performed in 1985 at the Carnegie Recital Hall, New York.

For the forthcoming concert David has reworked the entire cycle, adding choral parts and accompaniment but retaining the soprano solo in a number of the songs so that it is now a much fuller-sounding and more complex piece. South Devon Singers are delighted that soprano Héloïse West will be singing with them.

David has also set as a separate song what is perhaps Blake’s best-known Song of Experience, The Tyger. This is again for soprano solo against a busy, vigorous and relentless choral backdrop.

“I have been wanting to set The Tyger for years,” says David. “I attempted a setting about 40 years ago and just could not get it right. Somehow coming back to the other settings of Blake poetry and thinking about them afresh - which was also an ambition which I had been harbouring for some time – gave me renewed inspiration and I am impatient to hear the result! The rehearsals are proving to be hard work for all of us but they are progressing well and it is going to be so exciting when we are finally able to come together with Héloïse as well.”

The grant has also enabled David to set two poems by Cornish poet, Charles Causley, which pick up on the general theme. One is Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience and the other Innocent’s Song. “Causley deserves to be much better- known as a poet,” says Rachael Shearmur. “He has a very clear and direct style of writing but one in which each reading and re-reading peels back yet another layer of meaning. He is the master of the ‘sting in the tale’, when something apparently innocent turns out to be deeply troubling or threatening. Both these poems are good examples of this and David’s settings of them have, I think, captured these interwoven moods and meanings.”

The choir will also be premièring an entirely original work by David, Galileo, which is about the dangers of censorship, and David’s setting of a poem by John Keats,

Dawlish Fair, composed for last year’s festival, which is very different in mood, rather saucy and about an entirely different sort of experience!

The concert will also feature internationally-renowned double bass player, David Heyes, and one of his diploma pupils, James Rintoul. Both performed at last year’s festival in the Saturday morning mini-recitals and South Devon Singers are delighted to be able to incorporate their playing this year into their own concert.

The Gallery Singers, a choral quartet formed just under three years ago who perform regularly at Mamhead Church, will also be premièring a piece which they commissioned David to write for them: a setting of another Causley poem called Convoy.

The concert will therefore be very varied in texture and will ensure that the Festival gets off to both a dynamic and an innovative start.

South Devon Singers will be performing at The United Reformed Church, Teignmouth on Friday 6th March at 7.30pm. Tickets for this and all other Festival events are available from Sheila Townsend at or on (01626) 870 107 or from the Teignmouth Tourist Information Centre. 

South Devon Singers are very pleased to have been awarded a grant from Arts Council England. We have commissioned David Haines for new work for our concert in the Teignmouth Classical Music Festival 2015.

South Devon Singers have a busy few months ahead


After an incredibly busy start to the year which saw them perform at six separate venues over the space of just four weeks - including a memorable concert at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth - the South Devon Singers are enjoying a slight lull before embarking on their Christmas programme.


Ahead of that, however, they will perform at Oystercatchers café at 4pm on Sunday 16th November, as part of the Teignmouth Jazz Festival fringe. This will be a free, informal gig in the ever-welcoming and friendly atmosphere of one of Teignmouth’s most versatile and go-ahead eateries. Devotees will be aware of quite how much goes on there – science café, poetry readings, meetings, talks and musical events varying hugely in style.


The Oystercatchers will also be hosting one of the events of the 2015 Teignmouth Classical Music Festival which South Devon Singers are in the throes of planning. The Festival will be taking place from 6th to 8th March and aims to feature a similarly eclectic mix of performers and styles to that which proved so popular this year and in 2013.


One of the principal aims of the organisers is to show that classical music is a vibrant art-form. The programme will include pieces spanning 5 centuries of composition and will feature the premiere of some newly-arranged settings of poems by William Blake, specially commissioned by South Devon Singers from their Musical Director, composer David Haines. These are to be performed at a concert on Friday 6th March in the United Reformed Church, when the choir will be joined by soprano Héloïse West and double bass player David Heyes.


Rachael Shearmur, joint Artistic Director of the Festival says: “We are very lucky to have secured the participation of some hugely talented performers. The Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral, Andrew Millington, and the Assistant Director, David Davies, will be giving a concert of piano and organ music in St Michael’s Church on the evening of Saturday 7th March. We are also delighted to welcome back the Exeter Youth Orchestra for an afternoon concert on Sunday 8th March and Jane Anderson-Brown, with her young company, Red Earth Opera, will be entertaining the Sunday evening audience with Mozart’s “Idomeneo”.

“We are also privileged to have been able to organise a lunchtime recital of art songs to be given by soprano Margaret Aagesen-Hughes on the Saturday, followed by an unusual

performance of hand-bell ringing. There will be some late evening events at Old Java Coffee House on both the Friday and the Saturday featuring music for mandolin and music for harp. And last, but by no means least, a Palm Court trio will add to the atmosphere for those taking tea at the Oystercatchers on the Saturday.”


The morning of Saturday 7th March will be devoted, as in previous years, to a series of mini-recitals, each lasting no more than 10 to 15 minutes, designed to give keen amateurs, children and students the opportunity of performing a few pieces in a friendly and informal atmosphere where they need not feel that they are carrying any weight of responsibility for an entire concert. David Haines, who is jointly responsible for the artistic direction of the Festival, says: “We have always been amazed at the quality of performance which these mini-recitals produce and firmly intend that they should remain a key part of the Festival programme. We already have a number of people keen to play but would be delighted to hear from any local musicians interested in taking part in this way. Our aim is to be as welcoming and as inclusive as possible and to continue to make the Festival known for its focus on local talent, for the fruitful collaboration of amateur and professional musicians, and for the wide age range of performers.”


Image from the Surreal Teignmouth Collection St Michael's Church



Teignmouth Community Choir is once again living up to its name and fulfilling its aim of always being ready to support community events and to respond often at short notice to requests and opportunities to sing.


Rehearsals started up again on 1st September after a summer break in August. Just four days later a small group from the choir were being very busy bees indeed, performing two aptly-titled songs (Queen Bee and Honey Bee, both original compositions of choir MD David Haines) at the Yard Gallery in Exeter. This was to mark the opening of an exhibition of artwork inspired by the colonies of bees which have been kept for two years now on the roof of Debenhams in the Princesshay shopping centre – a little-known but very encouraging fact.


“I only found out about the event the previous week,” says David. “I’m always amazed how willing choir members are to support these sorts of things at very short notice and with such good humour and enthusiasm. I also direct the Ivybridge Community Choir. The two choirs usually perform together as South Devon Singers and we even had one choir member travel all the way from Ivybridge to lend his voice to the occasion as well. They really are the bee’s knees!”


On Saturday 13th September, the choir will be performing at 3pm in St Michael’s Church as part of their open day. St Michael’s will be supporting the Ride & Stride event, held on the second Saturday in September each year. Members of the public are encouraged to seek sponsorship to visit as many churches as possible in the one day, travelling between them either on foot or by bicycle. The money raised is then divided equally between the Devon Historic Churches Trust and each participant’s nominated church. St Michael’s has already benefited hugely from this event in previous years, both as a nominated church and as the recipient of two grants from DHCT.


“This is such a worthwhile cause,” says choir Chair, Rachael Shearmur. “Our local churches are often vibrant centres of community life. Although entirely secular in ethos and repertoire, the choir has been lucky enough to be able to use St Michael’s as a concert venue on more than one occasion. It’s a very comfortable place in which to perform and the churchwardens and other members of the congregation have invariably been helpful and welcoming. But a building of that size doesn’t run itself on thin air. By joining in with the activities which the church is laying on for the increasingly weary walkers and cyclists who will pass through its doors on Saturday we hope to be doing our bit to help support and preserve this important resource for the town.” 


St Michael’s will be hosting a number of events during the South Devon Singers-organised Classical Music Festival next year, which is to be held over the weekend of 6th to 8th March 2015. Links between the choir and St Michael’s will then be entering their fourth year.



David Haines and Lucie Brenner on Teignmouth Pier boardwalk



South Devon Singers will be celebrating the recent re-opening of the winter-storm-damaged Teignmouth pier on Monday 4th August with a fun - and free - mini-gig from 6.30 to 7 15 p.m.  The choir - based in both Teignmouth and Ivybridge - will incorporate familiar old favourites in their programme such as Daisy Bell and I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside alongside locally-based songs especially written for them, including The Parson And The Clerk, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and the rousing River Teign Rowing Song - commissioned a few years ago by the rowing club to celebrate the launch of their new rowing-gig.

"We're seeing this as just the first in a series of events celebrating this iconic local landmark", said the choir's musical director, David Haines. "2015 will mark 150 years since construction of the pier began, and we're just beginning to think of ways to make a big fuss about such a significant anniversary. We'd be delighted to hear from both organisations and individuals who'd like to get involved, especially local schools, but also anyone with special memories relating to the pier."

Pier Manager Lucie Brenner added, "We'll be thrilled to have the choir singing on our boardwalk, beyond the amusement arcade, and hope people will pop along to hear them - whether for ten minutes or the whole gig.  There'll be sweets and treats for everyone who comes along! "


Musical Director, David Haines wearing a Lifetime t-shirt from one of the American performances



South Devon Singers are putting out a call to all those who participated in any way in the first performances of the science oratorio Lifetime - the Science of Life and Evolution - by their Musical Director David Haines.


July 2004 saw three performances by a choir of 350 local children, teens and adults at Dawlish Leisure Centre of the seventeen choral songs with titles like Mutate!, Queen Bee, Swallow, Living Light , Cetaceans, and Mister Darwin.  


This last song was later incorporated by Kew Gardens in their Great Plant Hunt project which was sent to 22,300 UK schools, and it also won a prize from the New York Times.  Versions of Lifetime have been performed in Cambridge, Massachusetts (where David is songwriter-in-residence with the MIT Science Festival), at the San Diego Science Festival and at several British Science Festivals.


SDS would love to contact anyone familiar (as performer or audience-member) with the songs from the original performances or from subsequent concerts to invite them to come along to their concert at the Teignmouth United Reform Church on the evening of 4th July at 7.30pm.   


To become a temporary member of the choir and sing the second half of the programme, you will need to come to at least three of the previous four Monday rehearsals of Teignmouth Community Choir at Cliffden Hotel summerhouse at 7.30pm (9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th June).  


To join in with the concert’s last 4 or 5 songs, you need only attend a short refresher run-through from 5.30pm on the day itself. 


Participant singers will need to buy audience tickets, but attendance at rehearsals will be free.


Audience tickets will be £6 (£4 for 18s and under), and further details can be found on the website at:, or call 01626 870107, or email


Members of Teignmouth Community Choir taking part in Music Around the Clock

Teignmouth Community Choir, part of South Devon Singers, lived up both to its name and purpose last week, showing itself to be a true community choir as members forwent any weekend lie-in to put in a slightly earlier-than-usual performance at 9.30am on Saturday morning to support Operation Imprezza. The charity was hosting a fundraising event at Torquay United Football Ground: “Music Around the Clock”. This was a real marathon, lasting from noon on Friday 25th April to noon on Saturday 26th.


Operation Imprezza is a Teignmouth-based charity which helps to fund and support a school and school community in Kenya, the Imprezza Academy. The school was founded by a very dedicated and committed teacher, Catherine Omanyo, in 2001. The charity was set up subsequently, following a visit to Kenya by one of its now directors, Sarah Anthony. Sarah was so impressed by what she saw that she set about fund-raising for the school as soon as she returned home. The fact that the school existed independently before it was able to receive any additional funding is proof of its resilience and a sure sign that any funds raised will be used wisely in furthering the school’s aims.


Alison Revell, who lives in Teignmouth but works as a dentist in Newton Abbot, has been involved with the charity for a number of years now. She visited the Imprezza Academy for the first time last year and was able to offer dental treatment both to staff and students. She is now a Director of the charity. She is also a member of South Devon Singers and joined her fellow-members of the Teignmouth Community Choir in filling a 30 minute slot at the event. Over the 24 hour period more than 130 musicians sang and played. The programme was very varied: 20 different types of instrument were represented.


"The whole event was great fun and very successful. We are a tired but happy charity today” said Alison on Sunday, having started at last to catch up on some sleep! “High points were the different rock bands on Friday evening including Torquay’s Owen Penrice and the Tourists, Fourth Base and Limited Company and Saturday morning when the Teignmouth Community Choir, folk group The Bovey River Band and concert band Spectrum all performed."


The Community Choir were undaunted by the absence of their Musical Director, David Haines, who is currently in Cambridge Massachusetts where he is the songwriter-in-residence at the Cambridge Science Festival, organised under the aegis of MIT. David was nevertheless able to contribute to the marathon independently by streaming a rehearsal of the Science Festival Chorus from Massachusetts as they themselves prepared for their two concerts over the weekend. The rehearsal was watched at 3am in Torquay, along with a number of DVDs of songs contributed by various local primary schools to ensure that music was playing continually throughout the 24 hours.


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South Devon Singers outside the Southbank before their performances on Saturday 5th April 2014

A choir at the heart of the community

Teignmouth- and Ivybridge-based choir South Devon Singers have had an especially busy time this last week, truly fulfilling their description as a community choir.

On Monday 31st March, the Teignmouth Community Choir were very pleased to welcome to their evening rehearsal at the Cliffden Hotel summerhouse Sean Lyndon from the Co-operative Community Membership Fund. He presented a cheque for £500 to the choir – a grant from the Fund to help defray the expenses incurred by South Devon Singers in organising and running the hugely successful Teignmouth Classical Music Festival which took place in early March.

Sheila Townsend, the Administrator of South Devon Singers, said “We are extremely grateful to the Co-operative Fund for their support. The weekend was a tremendous success and we are already planning next year’s festival which will run from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th March 2015. It is the financial support which we received from a number of sources, along with the quality of the performances and the enthusiasm of our audiences which have inspired us to try to make this an annual landmark in Teignmouth’s cultural calendar.”

The choir’s next engagement was on Friday 4th April at the Manor House in Dawlish where they had been invited to sing as part of the ceremonies marking the reopening of the railway. The reception was attended by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, the Mayors of Dawlish and Teignmouth, representatives of Network Rail and of the other contractors involved in undertaking the work and, last but most certainly not least, a healthy contingent from the “Orange Army” itself. Teignmouth Community Choir Chair, Rachael Shearmur, had rewritten the words of the well- known ballad, Casey Jones, which celebrates the incredible and self-sacrificing feat of bravery of an engineer on the American railway in 1900 in mitigating what could have been the terrible consequences of a collision between his passenger train and a stalled freight train, to suit the very different but nevertheless equally brave and committed (and thankfully not so fatal!) work of the engineers who had such a tough job to do in battling the elements to restore the line. David Haines, Musical Director of South Devon Singers, says “It was such an enjoyable experience. I’d written an arrangement of Casey Jones a few years ago when we performed a whole concert of train-themed songs and it was lovely to be able to put it to slightly different use. Our audience was so attentive as it dawned on them that the song was celebrating their work. They were listening to every word and as soon as we’d finished singing, were asking for copies of the lyrics and enquiring whether a clip of our singing might be made available as a ring-tone! We were all on a real high for the rest of the day!”

Next stop London as choir members made their way to the Southbank Centre ready for a 9.30am start the following day! They were taking part in a production of The Events, David Grieg’s daring play with music by John Browne – Fringe First winner and the Guardian’s No. 1 theatre show of 2013. South Devon Singers had taken part in a much smaller-scale production of the play at The Drum Theatre in Plymouth in November last year. The play is touring again but the performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the evening of Saturday 5th April was a one-off with a huge choir of 250 made up of representatives from the many choirs which were involved in last

year’s tour. It was put on as part of the week-long Chorus Festival which is now in its 6th year.

The Events was inspired by the terrible shootings on the island of Utoya in Norway in July 2011. Before the action starts, a choir has been decimated by a similar attack and the play charts the long and tortuous process of its leader trying to make sense of what has happened and to rebuild not just her own life but also her choir. The play explores themes of prejudice, nationalism, integration, punishment and forgiveness. The choir assumes the role of a Greek chorus, sometimes simply providing music to suit the mood of the scene, sometimes offering commentary on the action and sometimes itself forming a part of that action.

Rachael Shearmur says “It was a hugely enjoyable and inspiring experience. It also gave us a great opportunity to showcase some of David’s songs. We had been chosen to sing one of his, Tamar Valley, as part of the opening medley for The Events, and were also able to give a short separate performance in the Festival Hall, introducing a different audience to David’s songs about science and nature. They really do deserve to be much more widely-known. They are hugely varied in musical style and the lyrics are detailed and well-crafted.”

David is now in the States until early May, fulfilling his role as songwriter-in- residence for the Cambridge Massachusetts Science Festival at which his work, Powers of Ten, will be performed later this month by the Festival Chorus. Meanwhile, undeterred by his absence, South Devon Singers will continue to take up engagements. Their next performance will be at Torquay United Football Club on Saturday 26th April as part of a 24 hour “singathon” to raise money for Imprezza, the Teignmouth-based charity which supports a school and its related community in Kenya.

If you would like any further information about South Devon Singers, please contact Sheila Townsend at The choir is unauditioned and open to all. The Teignmouth choir rehearses from 7.30 to 9.30pm on a Monday in the Cliffden Hotel summerhouse and its sister choir in Ivybridge rehearses on a Tuesday from 7.30 to 9.15 at the Watermark. 



One of our last-minute events, we were really pleased to be able to join in the celebrations on Friday 4th April for the re-opening of the rail line.


Rachael wrote some very clever lyrics to be set to the tune of Casey Jones to mark the events over the last few months and to pay tribute to the 'Orange Army' who have become a regular feature in Dawlish and Teignmouth.


All Aboard the Engine!

(sung to the tune of “Casey Jones”)



1. Come, all you rounders if you want to hear

A story about some famous brave engineers

They worked all night and they worked all day

To mend the sea wall and restore the Dawlish Railway.

On a wild wet day in early twenty fourteen

The wind whipped the waves to heights not before seen

They tore at the rocks and they tore at the stones

And left the rail track suspended like a bare backbone.




Whistle blows – all aboard the engine!

There she goes! The guard has waved his hand.

Whistle blows – all aboard the engine!

And she takes her first great journey between sea and land.


2. The sea wall was breached and eighty metres were gone

The parapet was damaged all the way along

From Sprey Point to Smugglers’ Cove so ballast was torn

From its bed beneath the sleepers on that fateful morn.

A makeshift sea wall was soon put in place

Rubble-filled containers in the now empty space

But the sea was so ferocious it still wanted to win

And so peeled back their lids just like a sardine-tin.


3. As the weather calmed, so the work could begin.

Five thousand tonnes of concrete had to be brought in

Men in yellow, men in orange all around

As they fought to recover all the sea-claimed ground.

Two hundred men by day, one hundred by night

Clearing, cutting, heaving, hauling to beat the might

Of the tides whose angry tendrils had torn away

At the coast-hugging track of Brunel’s railway.


4. Just two months on from all the wind and the rain

The Dawlish line was opened up again

To shouts and cheers and cries of loud “Hurray!”

As trains could once more speed along Great Western Railway.

People came from far and people came from wide

On that early April day no-one was left inside

As they gathered around to give three big cheers

For the work of all the famous bold and brave engineers.


©  Rachael Shearmur 2014

South Devon Singers

Thank you Co-operative Membership Fund!


We were joined by Sean and Corrine from the fund at our rehearsal on 31st March 2014 and presented with a cheque for £500.

South Devon Singers at the performance of The Events at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth November 2013

Teignmouth Choir to Sing on London Stage

Teignmouth- and Ivybridge-based South Devon Singers are to perform in London on 5th April. Twenty of their members will be joining forces with representatives of other choirs from around the country to form a huge choir of 250 to take part in a production of The Events, David Grieg’s daring play with music by John Browne – Fringe First winner and the Guardian’s No. 1 theatre show of 2013.

The Events was inspired by the terrible shootings on the island of Utoya in Norway in July 2011. Before the action starts, Claire’s choir has been decimated by a similar attack and the play charts the long and tortuous process of her trying to make sense of what has happened and to rebuild not just her own life but also her choir. The play explores themes of prejudice, nationalism, integration, punishment and forgiveness. The choir assumes the role of a Greek chorus, sometimes simply providing music to suit the mood of the scene, sometimes offering commentary on the action and sometimes itself forming a part of that action.

Rachael Shearmur, Chair of the Teignmouth choir, explains, “We were originally approached somewhat out of the blue in late October last year, asking if we would consider taking part in a performance at The Drum Theatre in Plymouth at the end of November. Despite an already very heavy programme of events planned and with barely a month to go the choir rose to the challenge and 33 of our members performed on what we had not originally appreciated was in fact the last night of the play’s 2013 tour. A one-off performance is now being organised at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 5th April as part of a week-long Chorus Festival. All the choirs which took part in the different performances last year were invited to send representatives to sing in London and we are very privileged to be contributing what is actually more than our fair share of singers. I am also delighted that we have been chosen, along with four other choirs, to sing in the opening medley of songs which are the choirs’ own material. In our case we will be singing Tamar Valley, a song composed by our director of Music, David Haines.”

Now in its sixth year, Chorus is a festival which explores and celebrates the power of singing together. It runs from 31st March to 5th April and comprises a veritable cornucopia of performances and workshops in hugely varying styles, from soul and jazz to Bach to Inuit throat-singing. South Devon Singers have also been given the opportunity to perform in the Festival Hall on the afternoon of 5th April, as part of the choral platform and song-sharing extravaganza. On this occasion their programme will consist exclusively of David’s music. Rachael is very excited: “This is a fantastic opportunity to make David’s music known to a wider audience. There is so much material to choose from but we have confined ourselves to a selection of David’s songs exploring the wonders of science, so will be singing about all sorts of things, from bacteria to stars, through rivers and evolution.”

If you would like any more information and/or if you would like to consider joining South Devon Singers which is very welcoming, open to all and non-auditioned, do contact the choir’s administrator, Sheila Townsend, at 



Red Earth Opera
Exeter Youth Orchestra
Flamenco guitarist ~ Adam Westcott



South Devon Singers are still basking in the warm glow of the tremendous success of the Teignmouth Classical Music Festival which took place from 7th to 9th March.

The Festival’s Artistic Director, local composer David Haines, explains, “While we were confident of having secured some truly excellent performances, the anxiety still remained about the level of interest which they were likely to generate, both from the point of view of boosting the performers’ morale and creating a good atmosphere for musicians and audience members alike, and from the perspective of covering costs and ensuring that the Festival could continue. In the event, support for the various concerts exceeded our expectations and everyone seemed truly to be enjoying themselves and appreciating what we were able to offer.”

Councillor Sylvia Russell, who attended many of the concerts, said that she was blown away by the quality and range of the performances. The Festival’s Director, Rachael Shearmur, adds, “In putting the programme together we were trying to show the breadth of appeal of classical music, as well as present some slightly less mainstream performances. Classical music is neither fusty nor outdated. It is a vibrant art form which depends on the synergy between composer, performer and audience truly to come alive.”

The musical gems on offer spanned five centuries of composition, from a 16th century setting of a psalm to pieces for double bass and guitar written very recently and inspired in one case by a grandson’s tears and in another by a daughter’s wedding. There was also a spellbinding piece written and performed by James Risdon, the guest soloist of the Exeter Recorder Orchestra, which combined references to the delicate Coventry Carol with the harsher sounds of calling across the landscapes of Eastern Europe. The Festival was the occasion for the premiere of David Haines’ new song Dawlish Fair – a setting of a poem by John Keats, written during his three-month stay in Teignmouth in the spring of 1818. Yet another first was the very well-received inaugural performance of a new opera group, Red Earth Opera, under the baton of their founder and director, Jane Anderson-Brown.

The age range of the performers was also a feature which South Devon Singers are keen to preserve in future festivals. Three young pianists, aged 10, 13 and 15, delighted the mini-recitals’ audience at St Michael’s Church on the Saturday morning. The string quartet comprising 17 and 18 year-old students which performed at the Riviera included Michael Brailey who has just been appointed as this year’s principal composer for the National Youth Orchestra, and the enthusiasm and verve of the young players of the Exeter Youth Orchestra, ranging in age from 13 to 18, was an inspiration to all who had chosen to forego some of the beautiful Sunday afternoon sunshine!

South Devon Singers are hoping also to maintain the very productive, encouraging and supportive mix of professional and amateur musicians who participated in the festival and to continue to draw performers from the wealth of local talent which clearly abounds.

The organisers are very grateful to Teignmouth First, Teignmouth Town Council, Teignbridge District Council, Devon County Council and the Co-operative Community Fund who supported the Festival financially. Their generous help has enabled a very valuable, inclusive and celebratory event to prosper.

South Devon Singers are already planning next year’s Festival which will take place from 6th to 8th March 2015. Full details of the programme will be advertised in due course but if you would like to be kept directly informed, please contact the Festival’s Administrator, Sheila Townsend at 

Exeter Youth Orchestra with their Musical Director Richard Bowyer

Preparations for Teignmouth’s 2nd Classical Music Festival on 7th, 8th and 9th March are now at an advanced stage. The Festival will open and close with evening concerts at the United Reformed Church given by South Devon Singers and Red Earth Opera respectively. St Michael’s Church is playing host to a daytime series of mini-recitals on the Saturday as well as concerts by the Exeter Recorder Orchestra and the Exeter Youth Orchestra and a special service of choral evensong. The more informal Old Java Coffee House will be the setting for two late night guitar recitals and a Palm Court trio will perform in the relaxed atmosphere of the Riviera Café.

“We are very grateful to all the different venues for their welcome and willingness to become involved in what we hope will be an annual event complementing Teignmouth’s already well-established Folk Festival in the early summer and its Jazz Festival in the autumn,” says Festival Artistic Director, David Haines.

The Festival’s organisers, South Devon Singers, are particularly pleased with the number of performers who are going to be taking part this year: about 180 in total whose ages range from 10 to 85! “The level of participation is fantastic,” says Festival Administrator, Sheila Townsend. “We are so pleased with the response and delighted to be showcasing such a wide spectrum of local talent.”

While many of the performers are amateurs, the Festival has also attracted a number of professional musicians and the organisers hope that this very productive blend of talent will remain a feature of future festivals.

South Devon Singers are very grateful for the financial support of Teignmouth First, Teignbridge District Council, Devon County Council and the Co-operative Community Fund.

For further information and/or tickets, please contact     or telephone (01626) 870107 or (01626) 779690.      . 



The second year of Teignmouth Classical Music Festival will see many more events in more venues than the well-attended 2013 festival.  The festival celebrates local talent - both amateur and professional - and the organisers, South Devon Singers, have announced two exciting late night recitals in the intimate surroundings of the Old Java Coffee House, Den Road.  Both recitals will feature guitar, showcasing different aspects of the instrument's hugely varied repertoire.


On Friday 7th March Exeter-based Clive Betts will present a fascinating and varied programme of classical guitar repertoire, joined by tenor David Beadle for some items.  Clive is a well-known performer who has played internationally, including for Salvador Dali.  The evening will feature much English music, and have sleep and night-time as an underlying theme.


On Saturday 8th March, Teignmouth-based Adam Westcott will play a range of flamenco music, including some of his own compositions.  Oddly enough, Adam is also indirectly linked to Salvador Dali:  the great artist painted live at a New York exhibition under the inspiration of Adam's world-famous teacher, Manitas De Plata.  Festival Administrator Sheila Townsend said "Watching and listening to Adam's playing gave me a huge adrenalin rush.  If you can't sleep after this recital, don't blame me!"


Both recitals will begin at 10.30, with the café opening for drinks and snacks at 10pm.  Tickets will be £8, with concessions available, including a reduced price for those attending both events.  For further information and bookings call Sheila on 01626 870 107.  For details of all festival events see community




"Is there an ethical dimension to songwriting?  What if your song is based on an interview?  What are your responsibilities then - to the interviewee? - to 'truth'? - to your audience, who may find some of the song lyrics questionable or offensive?"

These are some of the questions that Sheila Townsend - administrator of South Devon Singers - hopes will crop up on Friday 13th December at the Oystercatchers Café in Northumberland Place, Teignmouth.  Sheila oversaw a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for backing to commission a series of new songs from the choir's musical director, David Haines.

The songs - marking one hundred years since The Great Suffrage Pilgrimage - are based on extended interviews with women born in the decades since 1913.  They were premiered in the Teignmouth Jazz Festival recently, but are to be given a second outing with time for general discussion of the issues raised between each song.

Of the five songs, two are pretty uncontroversial: one compares a modern childhood with that experienced fifty and more years ago, another the hilarious misinterpretation a child made of the new acquisition her dad brought home in the late 50s.

But three of the songs have aroused considerable discussion amongst members of the choir.  "Just Another Kind of Woman" marks stages in a trans-sexual woman's journey from denial and repression to acceptance of her true self.  "Mistake in the Quantocks" recounts how another interviewee became pregnant after a date with an ex-boyfriend.  And - most controversially of all - "After Greenham Common" gives one woman's explanation of how she decided to limit the influence of men in her life following her experiences as a protester at the women's peace camp thirty years ago.

A small sub-group of the choir - the "SixTeign" - will perform each song, and audience members invited to air their views on the songs, question the songwriter, and generally discuss the issues raised.  The café will be open from 7pm with drinks and a limited range of food available.  Entry is free, tables may be reserved on 01626 774652, and the performance/discussion will begin at 8pm.  A good turn-out is expected for this event, so come early!


"The South Devon Singers were absolutely fantastic and we couldn't have asked for a better choir for our last show", said Polina Kalinina, Assistant Director for "The Events" after Saturday's performance at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth.  She added, "They had beautiful voices but also so much heart and energy that it was a joy to watch them on stage.  I think they did our composer proud!"

This Actors Touring Company production of "The Events", by Scottish playwright David Greig, won a Fringe First Award at Edinburgh and has been on tour around the UK and Ireland since then, featuring local community choirs at each of more than eighty performances.  Saturday's was the final performance of the current tour.  Although the play has the darkest of events at its core - the massacre of choir members by an alienated young man - the production featured moments of humour, along with six very varied musical numbers performed by the choir, and written or arranged by composer John Browne.

South Devon Singers musical director, David Haines said "We only had two or three weeks to learn the music, but choir members applied themselves with their accustomed energy and enthusiasm, making a superb sound in the performance, and singing much of the music from memory.  I took part in the performance myself and found the experience incredibly intense, rewarding and thought-provoking."

Throughout the tour, each local choir was invited to start the show with a rehearsal-style sing-through of one their favourites, and South Devon Singers chose David's "Song of the Tamar Valley" for its local relevance, and uplifting character.   The show's pianist and musical director, Emily Leather said "David's opening song was truly beautiful and perfectly embodied the spirit of community singing that The Events represents.  We felt so lucky to have the South Devon Singers sing us out for our final performance.  They were a community choir in the truest sense, and shared their passion, their warmth, their stories and - of course - their voices with us and the audience."


This weekend sees the premiere of Teignmouth composer, David Haines' new set of choral songs Singing A Woman's Century, performed by South Devon Singers.  Based on extended interviews with local women, the songs offer biographical snapshots that reflect aspects of how women's lives have changed over the last hundred years.

After Greenham Common tells of how one interviewee's experience of staying at the women's peace camp in the early 80s led to her decision to restrict the role of men in her life.  

Mistake in the Quantocks reveals how another interviewee unintentionally conceived her one and only - and much-loved - daughter.  

Just Another Kind of Woman takes three episodes from a transexual woman's journey - despair at her failing attempts to live up to the male identity forced upon her by body shape and social pressure - the decision to no longer fight the inevitable changes to come - and finally her growing confidence in being "just another kind of woman", as hormones and surgery bring her physical identity closer and closer to her own sense of who she really is.

Then and Now was written by primary school girls after a conversation with women past retirement age, and compares the different generations' vastly difference experiences of childhood.  

Spin is a comical true tale of how one child of the 50s radically misunderstood the purpose of her mother's new labour-saving device.

The five new songs are interspersed with suffragette songs of the early 20th century - mostly set to familiar stirring tunes such as Onward Christian Soldiers or the French national anthem.







Thursday 5th September will witness a performance of one of the most diverse collection of songs and readings taking place at one of the most beautiful hidden gems of the English countryside - and for the benefit of one the most respected of local charities.


Mowlish Manor is a Doomsday-listed manor house, with the current building dating back to the fifteenth century and set in beautiful gardens amidst the very best of rolling Devon countryside.  South Devon Singers have secured the enthusiastic assistance of the owners in mounting a late-summer evening concert in the rear courtyard beginning at 7.30 on 5th September.  All proceeds from the performance will go to Force, the much-praised Devon-based charity supporting anyone affected by cancer, whether patients, family or friends.


Musical Director of South Devon Singers, David Haines, said: "My friends Nick Futrell and Anna Kline and their children had lived in a converted stable-house next to the Manor for some years, and I have long craved the chance to do a performance at this wonderful venue.  When Nick was diagnosed with a brain tumour a little over two months ago, it seemed the perfect opportunity to support the charity from which he and others have gained so much support.  Nick was greatly looking forward to the event, but sadly died on 17th August, much earlier than expected.  Anna has graciously agreed that we should proceed with the concert so that Force can help to support others in Nick's situation.  The choir will also be thinking of their friend and former member, Bunty Scriven, who has also been ill with a brain tumour for over a year".


This fun and uplifting concert will include songs about everything from the Solar System to lost apple varieties, the children's game Diablo (one of three songs by Nick's son, Ezra) and a setting of Oberon's final speech from Midsummer Night's Dream.  In addition, those well-known local thespians Sarah Scoble and Leon Winston will perform readings on themes linked to the songs.


This is a unique chance to enjoy wonderful music in a unique setting and in aid of a great cause.  Tickets, to include light refreshments, are £7.50 and are available from The Hub in Teignmouth Triangle, or on 07790 889 709.  In the event of bad weather, the event will take place in the atmospheric and acoustically-blessed setting of Mamhead Church.


Artistic Director of Teignmouth’s first Classical Music Festival, David Haines, has declared himself “delighted” with the wide range of local talent booked to perform on “recital day” - Saturday 23rd March.

Mandolin-play Marc Woodward is a popular musician locally, performing music in many different genres and numerous venues.  He was a mandolin tutor at Dartington and has performed with many leading musicians on the British folk, jazz and blues scenes playing in venues ranging from concert halls to working men's clubs, cross channel ferries to 5-star hotels.  He has released several CDs both as a solo artist and as contributor to American compilation projects.

He will be joined by pianist Hannah Barlow-Epps (who will spend the afternoon playing at the Riviera with the Palm Court Trio) and Double Bassist Mark Lavender, for an eclectic programme including mandolin repertoire from Beethoven and Vivaldi and original work - with a few surprises thrown in!

“I'm delighted to be presenting some mandolin music for the festival”, said Marc; “it's an honour - if a little daunting! To be involved in any inaugural event is bound to up the ante in the nerves stakes...  This is a wonderful initiative for Teignmouth and I applaud South Devon Singers and Teignmouth First for the idea and motivation to make it happen!”

The mandolin has an established classical repertoire - Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Prokofiev and many others wrote for the instrument. Marc will draw on that repertoire whilst adding some Romantic and original pieces to provide an interesting and varied programme.

“So often the mandolin is heard as a folk instrument and it's wonderful to have the opportunity to present it in a different light”, Marc added; “I'm looking forward to it and I hope people will give this new festival huge support - I'm sure it will be a resounding success!”

Also performing on the day at St Michael’s Church (on the seafront) will be young Exeter double bassist James Rintoul, accompanied by David Haines;  Sonia Misteley, well-known locally as an osteopath, but putting her “magic fingers” to another use as a harpist; Dawlish-based classical guitarist and teacher David Bailey; virtuoso recorder-player Paul Fraser from Torbay (also featuring in Saturday evening’s performance of “Armadadrama”); and several young local pianists including Fiona Riches, Isaac Kelly and Lizzie Revell.  Paignton-based musical all-rounder Jane Anderson-Brown will fill the lunchtime slot with a vocal recital as well as conducting both the Jubilee Singers on Friday evening (22nd March) and the South Devon Singers on Saturday evening.


A gaggle of Teignmouth-fans was spotted at the new Old Java Coffee House recently, plotting yet another innovation for the town.  Teignmouth First founders, Terry Falcao and Paul Johnson were discovered conspiring with Teignmouth Community Choir stalwarts David Haines (Musical Director), Rachael Shearmur (Chair) and Sheila Townsend (Deputy Chair) to create the inaugural Teignmouth Classical Music Festival.

Teignmouth First is a non-profit organisation which aims to promote a sense of community and pride in our town” said Terry Falcao.  “What better way to do this than by establishing yet another music festival to complement the already flourishing Folk and Jazz Festivals?  And what better way to do that than to ask South Devon Singers - the umbrella charity for Teignmouth and Ivybridge Community Choirs - to organise it?”.

Sheila Townsend - who already organises the town’s Science Cafe (4th Friday of most months at the Oystercatcher) and Science Festival (scheduled for 9th November this year), is overseeing the logistics, whilst David Haines has been recruiting local musical talent.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the unusual mix of performers we’ve managed to come up with “ said David.  On Saturday 23rd we’re able to offer a whole day of free mini-recitals by both professional and amateur musicians from the area, including performances on guitar, harp, mandolin, piano, recorders, and double bass.  These will all take place at St Michael’s Church on the seafront - a lovely venue with superb acoustics.  The church is being incredibly supportive of the project, keen as they are to see musical and other events taking place in this fine old building.”

Paignton-based professional musician Jane Anderson-Brown will be appearing no fewer than three times during the festival.  On Friday evening, 22nd March, she’ll be conducting the Torbay Jubilee Singers in a performance of Pergolesi’s sublime “Stabat Mater” - a work recently featured in Radio 4’s Soul Music series.  Then Jane will be the soloist on Saturday in a lunch-time song recital including English works by Purcell, Quilter and Dring.  And on Saturday evening she’ll conduct a performance by South Devon Singers of David Haines’ cantata Armadadrama, marking twenty-five years since the work’s first performance in 1988 - the four-hundredth anniversary of the Spanish Armada - whose story it tells in a gallimaufry of musical styles ranging from classical to jazz, mournful ballad to jaunty hornpipe.

Saturday afternoon will see the Teign Piano Trio perform Palm Court music in the elegant surroundings of the Riviera upstairs, whilst delicate sandwiches and other enticing treats are served to discerning takers of High Tea.

All events are free other than the two evening concerts which are just £3 per ticket.  Tickets are available from the Tourist Information Centre, Ashleigh Way Post Office - and on the door.


Teignmouth First and South Devon Singers are collaborating to organise a Teignmouth Classical Music Festival on 22nd and 23rd March.  

On the morning and afternoon of Saturday 23rd, they plan to schedule a series of 10-20 minute mini-recitals at St Michael’s Church by local professional and amateur musicians and music students.

“We’re aiming for something quite small for this first festival”, said David Haines, Musical Director of Teignmouth Community Choir, “with the aim of growing it into a larger event in future years.  Teignmouth is developing an enviable reputation as a ‘festival town’, and a classical weekend seems like a natural addition.”

Terry Falcao added, “Teignmouth First is aiming to promote artistic and cultural activities as well as pride in this very special town.  A Classical Music Festival will be another building block in achieving these aims, as well as bringing more visitors to our community.”

Torbay Jubilee Choir will be performing at St Michael’s Church on the evening of Friday 22nd March.

Other events already scheduled for Saturday 23rd are:

Lunch-time song recital at St Michael’s Church by Prize-Winning duo Jane Anderson-Brown and Janet Williams

Palm Court Trio in the upstairs room of the Riviera Cafe-Bar all afternoon, with high tea available

Community Choir performance of the new cantata version of Armadadrama in the evening at St Michael’s Church - a work last witnessed locally as a children’s opera on Teignmouth beach in 2011, performed by TYKES in a memorable production sponsored by the BBC.



“The Community College have kindly donated free rehearsal space to us since we started up in 2006”, said Musical Director David Haines,  “but we’ve decided it’s time for a change and our weekly practices will now be taking place in Ivybridge library at the Watermark.  South Hams District Council have made this possible through a generous grant covering the first two months, and we hope that being in a more central location within the town centre will encourage many more people to give singing a try”.

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