About the choir
The choir was formed for a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Following the success of Joseph the members of the choir wanted to carry on singing together and began to perform other concerts of items from musicals and Broadway shows, sacred music and popular songs. The choir expanded and became established in Ainsdale whilst also recruiting members from further afield and grew from its original 25 members to the present 80+.
The choir perform a wide repetoire of music ranging from famous pieces of sacred music to the big show stoppers from major musicals, and from Gilbert and Sullivan to popular songs of the present day. It is fortunate to have many members who are experienced soloists.
Over the years the choir has performed more than 30 concerts in a wide variety of venues around Southport. All of Octave’s concerts raise money for good causes - MIND, Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, and most recently the Heart of Southport Appeal, as well as the annual Christmas concert for Queenscourt Hospice. Well over £30,000 has been raised over the years
Ceri founded the choir, Octave, in 1998 and has been its musical director ever since.
He began playing the piano aged 9 and the clarinet a year later while at primary junior school. He continued to be involved in music throughout school in orchestra, wind-bands and choirs including playing with the Liverpool Schools’ Orchestra at St. Paul’s Cathedral. At age 16 he became church organist at Oakvale United Reformed Church in Liverpool. After secondary school he attended Mabel Fetcher Technical College studying music to A level and taking his teaching diploma. But after college he went into the jewellery trade, continuing his music playing and singing with local orchestras, wind-bands and operatic societies throughout Liverpool. He also established himself as a regular accompanist for singers in concerts and music festivals. At the age of 21 he worked as musical director with St. Paul’s (Seacombe) Amateur Operatic Society with their production of Die Fledermaus.
He moved to Southport in 1985 and began to work with local music groups and continue his work as an accompanist. In 2001 he was MD for the Birkdale Orpheus Operatic Society’s production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and assistant MD for SONG in Children of Eden. Octave began in 1998 and rapidly became established in the local area and continues with rehearsals every week and performances two or three times a year.
Several years ago Ceri made the decision to make music his full-time occupation and now teaches piano and clarinet, continues his role as organist for Ainsdale Methodist Church and is an independent organist for weddings and funerals. He is much in demand in his work as an accompanist and has been the MD for several recent Gilbert and Sullivan operas performed by Hoghton Players.
Brenda teaches the choir singing technique, leads warm-ups at practices and sometimes conducts some of the pieces in a concert.
She began her singing career as a teenager in Blackpool, where she won many trophies at the Lytham, Fleetwood and Blackpool Music Festivals. She competed successfully in the Southport Music Festival with her school choir and sang in the Montreux Music festival with Blackpool Girls’ choir.
Brenda graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where she also gained an LRAM (singing teacher)
She appeared with the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band, the Poulton Silver Band, Owen Brannigan, Ivor Emmanuel, on Central Pier and St. Annes pier shows and at many local Masonic events, church services and charity events on the Fylde.
When moving to Derbyshire she enjoyed singing with the Derbyshire Singers and as a soloist with the Chesterfield Philharmonic choir and orchestra. Brenda taught music in a private school in Chesterfield and was also a piano accompanist for dance shows and examinations.
On moving to Southport, she has sung with and been a soloist for the Bach Society (now the Southport Bach Choir). She sang solos in Liverpool Cathedral and many concert venues in Merseyside.
She was a Primary School teacher and music co-ordinator in Sefton, and a part-time lecturer in music at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk. Brenda has been a freelance music Inset leader for North West Primary and High Schools, has mentored local choral leaders, taught singing for Sefton Music service and since 2008 has become an Advisory teacher with the Voices Foundation, leading projects in Primary schools to teach pupils and teachers how to sing.
Brenda has always enjoyed singing songs from a wide repertoire , folk songs with guitar, to oratorio, French song and musical theatre.
Thanks to Chris Hughes and Janet Hartshorn for use of their photographs on these pages.