Nicola Starkie is a versatile musician and teacher with a huge passion for choral music. An inspiring and experienced conductor, she enjoys working with professional and amateur singers of all ages and levels of experience and is known for her encouraging approach, attention to detail and imaginative programming.
Alongside her work with Ludlow Choral Society she is Musical Director of Quinborne Choir, Quinton Community Choir and the 150-strong boys’ choir at King Edward’s School Choir in Birmingham. She is also Artistic Director of Polaris Vocal Ensemble and sings with Birmingham’s acclaimed choir Ex Cathedra.
Nicola studied Music at Downing College, Cambridge where she was Organ Scholar and responsible for directing the Chapel Choir and leading choir tours abroad. After graduating, Nicola trained as a secondary music teacher at Birmingham City University and worked in schools in Wolverhampton and Bromsgrove where she taught classroom music and directed and arranged for a number of vocal and instrumental ensembles. Nicola then took time out of teaching in order to be at home with her three children for their pre-school years. During this time she founded Quinton Community Choir, now a flourishing group of over 90 members which performs regularly in community and concert venues across Birmingham, often collaborating with other ensembles.
Nicola returned to university as a mature student and studied Choral Conducting at Birmingham Conservatoire where she was the recipient of the MMus Course Prize and The Michael Beech Conducting Award. Her principal studies in Choral Conducting were with Paul Spicer and she also received vocal coaching from Maureen Brathwaite. Nicola conducted Birmingham Conservatoire Camerata – a mixed voice chamber choir – and formed Polaris, an upper voices ensemble specialising in music from the Baltics, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. She also sang with Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir for whom she was the alto soloist in a Radio 3 broadcast from St. Laurence Church, Ludlow and a CD recording of Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor.
As part of her Masters programme Nicola had the opportunity to study Advanced Editing Techniques with Dr Shirley Thompson and produced the first modern performing edition of one of Lalande’s ‘Grands motets’ which was performed by Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir and instrumentalists from the Performance Department under the direction of Jeffrey Skidmore.
Nicola arranges for choirs as time allows and wrote for the BBC Doctors Christmas special episode in 2017. Although choral music has become Nicola’s main area of musical interest, she likes to keep her hand in as an accompanist, occasionally playing for soloists and for weddings and funerals. She also enjoys being part of the music team at her local parish church where she plays keyboards or viola in the band.
Outside of music Nicola is busy with family life and loves cycling and walking in the countryside.
Steve was appointed as our Accompanist in 1998. He is a professional musician, working freelance as a piano teacher, music therapist, adjudicator, accompanist and composer. He has also written music for television, radio and the theatre, notably for Sir Antony Hopkins’ production of Uncle Vanya. As well as working in the classical field he has performed in a variety of other settings, including jazz, folk and rock music. The Society is fortunate to have the services of such an outstanding pianist. In 2017 the Choir commissioned and premiered Steve’s setting of Samuel Taylor Colerdidge’s poem Kubla Khan.
Hugh Cullen Stage Manager