Nicola Starkie is a versatile musician 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.
Accompanist and Assistant Music Director
Marion Bettsworth is an accompanist, organist, piano teacher and audio producer based in Hereford.
She teaches piano and music theory at Hereford Cathedral School.
She also produces radio programmes, podcasts and audio dramas for clients including
BBC Radio 3 and the BBC World Service.
Originally from Lancashire, Marion read Music at Lincoln College, Oxford where she was Organ Scholar.
She has held positions including: Director of Music at Holy Trinity Church, Hereford;
Assistant Director of Music at St Michael’s Church, Highgate; Accompanist for Enfield Choral Society;
Organ Scholar at St Marylebone Parish Church; and Organ Scholar at Alexandra Palace.
She is an Associate of the Royal College of Organists and a member of the Society of Women Organists.
Marion is in demand as an accompanist for recitals and examinations, and has worked with ensembles including The Sixteen, Vivaldi’s Women, City of Oxford Choir and the Godwine Choir.
When she’s not pedalling away in an organ loft or recording unusual sounds, Marion can be found pedalling away on her next cycling adventure or fussing over her two cats.