We have been frequently asked by young musicians if there is a chance to accompany the choir as an instrumentalist. We have a series of young soloists that we incorporate regularly all have accompanied the choir on many occasions, and both have performed solo recitals.
We have also invited musicians from friends and families of the choir to join us in our concerts. We try to include them at least once a year, to increase variety.
Over the years we have had the experience of James Olsen, Michael Segal, Louisa Abraham, Serena Aylward, Tim Segal, Rebecca Segal and Tom Chapman. All have gone on to great things in their own spheres of interest: James and Serena have read music at Cambridge and Tom started doing so at York in the autumn of 2007.
All our teenage pianists have said over the years that playing for BJC (and some for BYV) has been one of the things that they’ve loved most in their musical life - and that’s saying something, when you think of all their other opportunities at school an elsewhere. The attendance by each pianist has been close to 100% over the years, after all.
“I started helping out with the choir in 1998 as a pianist, along with Michael Segal, and remained with them until I finished school in 2001. During this time I was fortunate enough to be a part of many concerts in a number of different venues, including Southwark Cathedral (where we did Evensong), St George’s in Beckenham, Beckenham Baptist Church and Beckenham Public Hall. The main works performed included Jonah-Man Jazz, Sweeney Todd and The Golden Touch (by James Olsen, former assistant director of the choir).
I greatly enjoyed my time with Beckenham Junior Choir and am pleased to see that they have gone from strength to strength since I left them 7 years ago.”
“I began singing with Beckenham Junior Choir when John set it up, in 1993. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years as a chorister, learning to sing a wide variety of music and performing in the termly concerts. After I left the choir, I continued singing at secondary school, and also continued my piano lessons with John, both of which led to my re-involvement as an Assistant Director, from 1999 to 2003. This valuable experience of teaching, conducting and accompanying played a large part in my musical education, which eventually led to my reading Music at Cambridge University, and on into my present vocation as a singer, conductor and singing teacher. I truly believe that the great fun I had as a young chorister helped to foster my life-long love of music, and for that reason I will always have fond memories of my time with Beckenham Junior Choir.”
Bonnie and Grace Callaghan
Bonnie studies music at Goldsmiths and has continued her singing to a very high standard - she has sung professionally in “Albert Herring” in a production in Italy and continues to enjoy all aspects of music and performance. Grace studies music at Royal Northern College of Music , Manchester and continues her love of all things flute and musical performance.
Tom was a keen member of Beckenham Junior Choir from 1995-1999 and later choir accompanist of both BJC and BYV from 2002-2007. John taught Tom piano from lesson 1 until the end of school, around 11 years, and it is this formative musical education which paved the way for Tom’s career in music.
After leaving school Tom went on to do an Undergeaduate music degree and postgraduate composition Masters at The University of York. He taught music in a school in New Zealand on his gap year between degrees and later sang as a Lay Clerk at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.
Tom has developed a busy freelance music career in London as a conductor, singer and educator. His work directing amateur choirs has been some of his most fulfilling; he directs various pop and classical focused choirs around London. He is a well known face on the London choral scene as a Tenor; regularly performing with the choirs of Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. Alongside this, he is also a part time teacher of music at Westminster Under School, as well as teaching piano privately.
Junior Choir member from 2002 - 2006 and piano accompaniment for the Junior Choir from 2008 - 2011. Further education includes a Pitman Training - PA Diploma with short hand. Started my career at Lloyds Development Capital and currently at Arma Partners, Investment Bank, as a Recruitment Manager. Still enjoy playing piano in my spare time.
George joined the Beckenham Junior Choir in 2004, alongside his sisters Elizabeth and Laura. George has been playing for the choir since 2007. He is having piano lessons with John and also studying the Organ and completed his grade 8. George attended Harris City Academy in Crystal Palace and is a member of the South London Organist Society. George also attended Trinity on Saturdays. Further education includes reading Music at the University of York before beginning work in Orchestral Management, currently within the London Symphony Orchestra’s finance department. Also, regularly accompanying church services on the Organ in the Beckenham area.
Sophie studies music at Royal Holloway College - Universty of London. She played the piano, which she started when she was five, and the oboe when she was seven, and attained Grade 8 on both instruments whilst with the choirs. She was been an active member of the Junior Choir since 2005, and when she started with Youth Voices in 2007, she became one of the piano accompanists for the juniors. She regularly sang solos and duets and occasionally played the oboe when required in an orchestral piece. Also she has had music theory lessons with John.
Ella and I have such happy memories of BJC. “Since leaving the Beckenham Junior Choir in 2011 I have continued to sing and perform. As a member of the Youth Opera Company at the Royal Opera House I enjoyed taking part in productions including La Bohème on the main stage. I joined the BBC Proms Youth Choir Academy in 2017 and took part in John Adams’ Harmonium at the First Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and I also passed my Grade 8 singing exam with Distinction that year. I am currently studying History at the University of Birmingham but I am still enjoying singing. I took part in Sir William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham earlier this year with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as a member of the University Women’s Choir and in Haydn’s The Creation at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as part of this year’s BBC Proms Youth Choir.
Thank you John and BJC for giving me the opportunity to sing and perform, something that I am continuing to enjoy eight years later.”
James Olsen was the first assistant director of the Junior Choir and was involved in conducting and accompanying the choir from 1995 until 1999.
In 2000 he wrote the libretto and music of a children’s opera for the choir which they performed at Anerley Town Hall the same year. James subsequently read music at King’s College, Cambridge, where he gained a double starred first.
After studying composition with Wolfgang Rihm in Karlsruhe, he undertook a Master’s at King’s College, London and a doctorate at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is now a professional composer, his works having been performed by, amongst others, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. He also teaches composition, music history and analysis at the University of Cambridge.
John taught Becky piano up to grade 8, and Becky played the violin up to grade 7. Becky has a great personality and was much loved by us all for her fun and enthusiasm. “I was in the choir from about 1995 til 1999. I played solo for concerts on violin and for group instrumentals and then I joined the choir accompanying in 2003 ‘til 2006 when I went to university in York. It was great to be in the choir while my brother Mike was there as accompanist. My mum always remembers one of Mikes first concerts, he accompanied my first solo of “Leaning on a Lamp-post”. It was a great experience to combine my love of music with working with the children. John offers such brilliant opportunities and its such good fun with a great mix of different types of music”.”
Mike was a wonderful person to have around; enormous commitment and dedication. He made great strides in the time that he was with us. A highlight for him was playing a complicated 7-page piece by C V Stanford on Southwark Cathedral organ for the big Evensong with Amici Cantantes on Feb. 3rd, 2001.
“John taught me the piano and organ for over ten years in total and asked me at the end of 1998 if I would like to be involved in BJC. From 1999 to 2001 I accompanied the choir on the piano, taught songs, conducted and also played a few solos in concerts. My main memories of the choir are how enthusiastic the children were, and how the main aim was that they would have fun through their music. I think the children in particular liked us allowing so many of them to do little solos, even the younger ones and the slightly less confident singers. Personally I very much enjoyed my time with BJC and it was a great experience for me..”
I started singing with the choir in 1999, and took up piano lessons with John not long afterwards, picking up the organ as well towards the end of primary school. I returned as an accompanist for the BJC and BYV from 2008-2012.
The choir was a formative part of my musical journey, and a solid foundation for my time as a chorister at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, and in the London Oratory School Schola. Returning to accompany the choir was very enjoyable and helped me gain valuable skills as an accompanist. I went on to complete a degree in Music at the University of Oxford, while serving as the organ scholar at Merton College. Last year I completed the examinations for Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists.
I currently work as an organist, conductor and music bookseller. I play on Sunday mornings at St Francis of Assisi RC Church in Notting Hill, and conduct a small chamber choir I co-founded last year with my friend Elizabeth Leather, called Hesperos.
Becky joined the Beckenham Junior Choir in 2001. John taught Becky piano up to grade 8, and she joined the choirs to play the piano in 2008. Becky studied at Southampton University, and music technology in Berlin and works in publishing.