Rachel Little Artistic Director Amabile Choirs, Poco Amabile Musical Director
Rachel started her vocal training with Charlotte Jackson and went on to graduate from both the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music, studying with Patricia MacMahon and Eiddwen Harrhy. She has won several awards including the Jean Highgate Scholarship competition, the Jewish Choral Prize and the Hugh Sloane Memorial Award. On the concert platform, Rachel has performed in venues such as St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican and has given recitals throughout Britain and Southern France. Rachel was the soloist on the BAFTA award-winning soundtrack to the film American Cousins and also sang the part of Gabriel in Haydn's Creation, recorded live for BBC Radio 3 under the baton of Sir Philip Ledger. For three years Rachel sang with the critically acclaimed Opera Holland Park Chorus and sang in the British premier of Tan Dun's Opera Marco Polo with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. She is actively involved with The Council for Music in Hospitals and has performed over 100 concerts in venues throughout England and Scotland.
Rachel is now based in the Lakes, where she is combining a professional performing career with a busy singing teaching practice. Rachel was a founding member of Amabile and took over the directorship of Amabile's training choir, Poco Amabile, in 2004. Rachel became acting Artistic Director of the Amabile Choirs in September 2012 and was formally acceptied as Artistic Director in February 2013
Rachel's web site
Melody Rowe Piccolo Amabile Musical Director
Melody Rowe studied piano and singing at the London College of Music. After graduating with honours in 1986, she worked as musical director for community arts projects in Edinburgh, including several years with the Drake Music Project, Scotland. In 1996 Melody trained as a music therapist at the University of Bristol, gaining a Post Graduate Diploma in Music Therapy in 1998.
Melody has since divided her time between music therapy and music teaching, working both freelance and with Lancashire Music Service, in schools across Cumbria and Lancashire.
Mike Critchlow Poco Amabile Pianist
Mike Critchlow trained at the Royal Manchester College of Music where he gained his ARMCM and GRSM diplomas. In addition to playing the piano for Poco Amabile, he is the accompanist for Kendal Choral Society, musical director for Kendal Operatic Society and has close ties with a French choir for whom he regularly plays at concerts. He accompanies for Music in Hospitals as well as accompanying soloists for Lieder. He is a church organist. He took early retirement as a Head Teacher and now works in complementary medicine.
Lesley TalbotAmabile and Donne Amabile Pianist
Born in Kendal, Lesley started piano lessons at the age of six and, later at Kendal High School, took up the flute, and subsequently transferred to the oboe. It was also here that she sang in the school's nationally recognised choir, most notably that which won the BBC competition, 'Let the People Sing' - undoubtedly the forerunner of the BBC Choir of the Year contest in which Amabile has been so successful. At age 17, she was awarded a Gold Medal for Grade 7 Piano by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
After Kendal High School, she gained a place at the Royal College of Music in London, where she studied piano with David Parkhouse, winning the Ellen Marie Curtis Prize for Mozart Sonatas. She also took up the opportunities offered by the excellent accompanying and conducting classes. She was subsequently awarded the diplomas of ARCM (piano), LRAM (oboe) and a GRSM degree.
Lesley returned to the Lake District to teach and, in 1980, was appointed Head of Music at The Queen Katherine School in Kendal. Here, over 26 years, she built up a busy and successful department with an eclectic range of extra-curricular music from jazz bands to rock groups to orchestras and choirs, the latter regularly performing a wide repertoire including standard choral works such as Poulenc's Gloria and Mozart's Requiem. It is a source of great pleasure that many of her students have gone on to study music and forge successful careers for themselves, including Rachel Little.
Frances Chiasson Past Artistic Director
Frances Chiasson holds Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees from the School of Music at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) where she studied piano with Dr. Terence Dawson and choral conducting with Prof. James Fankhauser. While at UBC, she won several scholarships, including the Phyllis Schult and Joan Spencer Memorial Scholarships. Following graduation, Frances taught music for several years in independent and state schools in Vancouver and Calgary (Canada). After leaving classroom teaching, Frances directed the Calgary Mount Royal Children's Choir, taught choral methods at the University of Calgary, was the Musical Director and Conductor at Scarboro United Church and taught numerous piano and voice pupils. She also worked as a choral clinician and accompanist in Calgary schools, was a choral adjudicator in Alberta music festivals and was active as a choral singer in several local and national ensembles. While in Calgary, she continued vocal studies and won the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) Voice Scholarship and Silver Medal for grade nine voice.
Frances moved to Lancaster in January 2006. She started working for Amabile Girls’ Choir in June 2006 and soon became the choir’s regular Pianist and Associate Conductor. In November 2007, she formed Amabile’s women’s choir, Donne Amabile. She was Artistic Director of Amabile Choirs until September 2012
Charlotte Jackson GRNCM LGSM (MT) Founder and Past Artistic Director
Charlotte Jackson began her singing career as a member of Cantamus Girls' Choir under the tutelage of Pamela Cook. Subsequently she studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Caroline Crawshaw and at the Guildhall School of Music with Arthur Reckless.
After leaving college Charlotte settled in Cumbria, where she combined a busy career as a soprano soloist, singing teacher and music therapist. Her first love is oratorio and song and a demanding time of singing for Choral and Music Societies ensued. She has been able to pursue her love of new music premiering works such as 'To Honour Our Lady' by Adrian Self, to pursue her love of song, especially English Song in giving recitals as far afield as Nigeria for the Musical Society of Nigeria and Oratorio with such groups as the London Festival Orchestra with Ross Pople.
Charlotte's seven years in Cantamus and her desire to share her passion for singing inspired her to establish Amabile Girls' Choir in 1996, which she continued to direct until reliquishing her position in 2010. In spring 2010 Charlotte was invited by Christopher Bell to direct the inaugural NYCoS National Girls Choir Training Group and in September 2010 became Musical Director of the NYCoS Dumfries Choir.
Charlotte is a Trustee of The Westmorland Music Council.
Charlotte's web site
Pamela Cook MBE President
Pamela Cook MBE studied at the Royal Academy of Music and enjoyed an extensive career on the concert platform. She is regarded as a leading authority on choral technique, in particular with female voices and is much in demand for vocal and choral workshops at home and abroad. Many students of choral singing from all parts of the world have visited Mansfield to observe the methods she uses in training Cantamus Girls' Choir. She has adjudicated at international choral competitions in Europe as well as for BBC2 and Welsh TV, including Sainsbury's Choir of the Year.
In 1984 Pamela Cook was awarded the MBE, in 1990 was made an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, in 1997 a Fellow of Birmingham Conservatoire and in 1998 was presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International. In 2003 she became a Vice-President of the Association of British Choral Directors, alongside John Rutter and Brian Kay.