The Conductor

DSC_8778Our  Musical Director, John Sutton,  started his musical career as a double bass player in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Whilst at school he was a founder member of the group that went on to become Mott the Hoople,   He gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where he studied singing with Mark Raphael, double bass with Eugene Cruft, and conducting with Sir Adrian Boult.  Since leaving the RCM, John’s eclectic love of music has taken him throughout UK  and Europe, performing with a huge variety of musicians from the Walker Brothers to Pierre Boulez. —and in an enormous number of venues from Ronnie Scotts, to the back of a lorry in a carnival in Spain, to the Royal Festival Hall and the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall London!

He has conducted choirs and orchestras since the early 70’s and was also proud to be the Principal Guest Conductor of the Prague Academy Orchestra for several years. He has recently retired from his two London choirs (the M3 roadworks and  nightly diversions proved insurmountable!)   and now concentrates his time on Compton and Shawford Festival Choir. Winchester, where he now lives. However he has been assured that many of his London singers will be persuaded to join the ranks on the 12th October 2019!DSC_1631

He takes a leading role in the planning and organising of concerts for  CSFC in the many activities they  perform each year.  He is delighted to conduct the WCMF concerts held in either Romsey Abbey or Winchester Cathedral. This year’s concert of Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Puccini’s Messa di Gloria will be in Winchester Cathedral on 11th May 2019.  Additional choral activities  include “fun” singing workshops such as “The Sound of Music” and “Oklahoma” for the local community.  The musical “Oliver” will be the choir’s next fun sing at Colden Common Community Centre on Sunday 24th February.

Although there will not be a foreign choir tour in 2019,  he is hoping that  the memorable performance of Sir Karl Jenkins’  “The Armed Man-A Mass for Peace” held in the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin, on 2nd November 2018 and performed by 2000 singers including  37 VfHChoir singers  may  stimulate the pleasure that a European  concert or two gives. A foreign tour will  relive the pleasure of performing great choral works in beautiful  venues.  His favourites have included  Prague, Lake Garda and most memorably, Reims, Sacre Coeur , Paris, Vezelay, Bourges and Toulouse, in France.

_MG_4755For over 40 years he has brought pleasure through music to many thousands of people.–as  a performer, conductor and teacher.  With the philosophy that music can be a medium through which  communities at large can benefit,  John has helped to raise many tens of thousands of pounds for worthy causes, and promote British music abroad, including many performances of the Armed Man, and Handel’s Messiah.

Recent comments on his performances have included “inspirational” “awesome” “great fun” ” most moving” —all of which he enjoys enormously!

Sir Karl congratulates the ConductorBesides music, John’s great love is sport. As a youngster he played representative rugby for the Three  Counties in the West of England , and later on was  a member of Twickenham Rugby  Football Club. But the world of football has also given him great pleasure–he has been an  avid supporter of Manchester City since his Dad took him to watch  Stanley Matthews against them  in 1957. It is with great pleasure that he is able to announce that Lawrie McMenemy has graciously agreed to become the Patron of Voices for Hospices Choir. Lawrie has supported all VfHChoir concerts over the last ten years or so, both by being present at performances, but also promoting our concerts through his weekly newspaper column in the Southampton edition of the Daily Echo.

Nowadays, when not engaged in music making John can be found on the golf course (he has recently been delighted to achieve a “hole in one”)  or in France on his electric bike!