We are a Dorchester based choir founded with the principal aim of singing the music of our founder, Rick Birley. The Occasional Singers’ first performance was in Milton Abbey on Wednesday 21st December 1994. It was not intended that the choir should meet regularly, but after this initial concert Rick felt more than ever what a fantastic thing it was to combine good voices together to create such a sumptuous sound, a feeling which was to create The Occasional Singers as they are today.
The choir has sung many of Rick Birley’s compositions over the years, but also sings a wide variety of music, sacred and secular, covering many styles and spanning many centuries. The Occasional Singers usually sing a cappella, but also work with other musicians – individual soloists, instrumental ensembles and organists.
Our current Musical Director is Miriam Newton, whose career combines teaching and conducting. She studied the oboe with Janet Craxton (Royal Academy of Music), and Peter Graeme (Royal College of Music), and read Music at Reading University. Throughout her career she has conducted numerous choirs and orchestras and is currently the Musical Director of Brockenhurst Choir.
The majority of her professional life has been spent working with 16-19 year olds and adults in colleges in Hampshire, most recently as Head of Music at Peter Symonds 6th Form College, Winchester, where she also ran the Hampshire Specialist Music Course. Prior to that she was Director of Music Performance at King Edward VI School, and Director of Music and Head of Media, Visual and Performing Arts at Brockenhurst College. Her career has included much work as an A Level Music examiner and Chief Scrutineer for the government body QCA (Ofqual). She now enjoys a thriving private practice of teaching and accompanying.
The retiring Musical Director is Richard Hall, Director of the Dorset Rural Music School.
Richard was supported by David Bruce-Payne, formerly Organist and Master of the Choristers at Birmingham Cathedral and senior lecturer at Birmingham Conservatoire.
The choir feels that its home is St Mary’s Church in Edward Road, Dorchester where we have always been made very welcome. The church was built just before the First World War and boasts a wonderful acoustic. The Occasional Singers greatly enjoy performing here. The church facilities are excellent and can be adapted to suit the performance.