Chorus & Orchestra
Discovering and sharing outstanding music
together in Coventry
Spires is a community of ambitious music makers. We love to uncover pieces of music for chorus and orchestra that have lain untouched, waiting for us to breathe new life into them. We are acoustic adventurers, seeking out unheard gems, and programming them alongside classics we know and love, crafting concerts that are not only outstanding to listen to but that we love to perform too.
We were founded in 2005 by Colin Touchin, our Aristic Director and formerly Director of Music at Warwick University, as a means of fulfilling a desire to create the opportunity for professional and advanced non-professional musicians to work together to provide high quality choral and orchestral performances. In our 10th anniversary year, Jack Lovell joined us as Chorus Director.
Colin Touchin, a leading conductor and music educator, was Director of Music at the University of Warwick for over 14 years, and conducted several ensembles, including the Chamber Choir which won many International awards, and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble which gained Gold at the National Concert Band Festival.
As conductor, he established Warwick Orchestral Winds (originally Midlands Wind Orchestra), the National Youth Recorder Orchestras and the Spires ensembles. He has conducted the National Youth Wind Orchestras of Great Britain, Luxembourg, Wales and Hong Kong; at the Birmingham Conservatoire he has conducted the Junior Orchestra, Wind Band and Sinfonia; for nine years he was a regular conductor at the Dartington International Summer School.
Colin has taught, conducted, and given workshops for students and teachers in 22 countries in the last ten years and is constantly in demand to coach conductors in ensemble-training skills. A frequent visitor to Hong Kong since 1996, he now makes his main home there where his work includes conducting Tak-Ming Philharmonic Winds, Grace Notes (Hong Kong Ladies Choir), HK Welsh Male Voice Choir and City Chamber Orchestra of HK, and presenting weekly programmes on RTHK (Radio 4, Hong Kong) featuring chamber, choral and wind band music.
His current positions also include the post of Guest Conductor of the Lufthansa Orchestra based in Frankfurt. Colin spends a good deal of time happily travelling between Asia and the UK, working extensively as conductor, teacher and adjudicator in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Europe.
He writes several commissioned works per year and his compositions have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and local TV and radio: Spires Philharmonic Chorus & Orchestra have recorded a CD of his music.
Chorus Director &
Jack has been Chorus Director of Spires since 2015, preparing and conducting both the Orchestra and Chorus in pieces from Handel to Vaughan Williams, as well as leading Spires Play & Sing Days.
Jack is a prolific young conductor, leading orchestras, choirs and opera companies across the Midlands, the North and Wales. In addition to his position here at Spires, he is Music Director at Stafford Sinfonia and Opera Ddraig in Cardiff and of Birmingham Gay Symphony Orchestra.
As well as his regular busy schedule of rehearsals and concerts, Jack was Assistant Conductor of the Royal Opera House’s production of The Firework Makers Daughter in December 2015, Music Director of Handel’s Acis and Galatea with Taunton Festival Opera with world-renowned bass-baritone Donald Maxwell and Assistant Conductor for an award-winning production of Britten’s Paul Bunyan with WNO Youth Opera. Jack studied Music at University of Birmingham and went on to study Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is currently tutored by Michael Seal (Associate Conductor of the CBSO). When not conducting Jack is also the Librarian at the CBSO and is a freelance piano tuner and technician.
After completing a degree in classical studies from the University of Liverpool, Alistair studied violin at the Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating in 1996.
He pursued a very busy freelance career, playing with a number of orchestras including Orchestra of the Swan, Orchestra da Camera, Chameleon Arts Orchestra, Moscow City Ballet Orchestra and the English Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with many top soloists including Nigel Kennedy, Peter Donohoe and Katherine Jenkins. He has also toured with Phantom of the Opera and has performed with a large number of 'pop' artists including Chris de Burgh, Leo Sayer, Victoria Beckham, Wizard, Procul Harum, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He has made numerous recordings for film and television, including the soundtrack to 'The Krypton Factor' for ITV.
Solo engagements have included both Beethoven Romances with the English Philharmonic Orchestra, The Lark Ascending with Spires, and the Beethoven Triple Concerto. Alistair continues to play professionally, and is currently principal second violin with both Orchestra da Camera and the Chameleon Arts Orchestra. Along with leading the Spires Philharmonic Orchestra, Alistair is also associate leader of the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra, and leads the Oriflamme Ensemble.
Along with performing, Alistair has also pursued a very successful teaching career, becoming Head of Instrumental Studies at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, in 2008, having previously taught at a variety of schools, including Shrewsbury School, Solihull School, and Wrekin College where he was Head of Strings.
Kathryn has pursued a life-long passion for singing. She began vocal studies at Huddersfield School of Music and holds Diplomas in performance from Trinity Guildhall School of Music and a Masters degree from Warwick University. She is also keen to share her enthusiasm has taught at many local schools.
Kathryn teaches voice privately and maintains her solo work alongside this. She has given several recitals locally with the late Stuart Smith and taken part in master-classes with Hazel Wood, April Cantelo, Rae Woodland, Jane Highfield, Mary King, Mark Wildman and most recently David Barrell. Her oratorio work includes Vivaldi Gloria at Bradford Cathedral, Haydn ‘Nelson Mass’ and Handel Messiah. She has appeared with local opera companies in roles including Casilda in ‘Gondoliers’, Patience in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera of the same name and Constance in ‘The Sorcerer’. With Stanley Opera Company she has appeared as Ida in ‘Die Fledermaus’, Giovanna in ‘Rigoletto’, the Nursing sister in ‘Suor Angelica’ and in various concerts in their home county of Leicestershire.
Kathryn is keen to promote choral singing, which has led her to become a Director and Chorus Manager for Spires Music in Coventry. As Chorus Manager she is responsible for co-ordinating a volunteer team and ensuring the smooth running of concerts. Kath is also the first point of contact for those wishing to join the lively, friendly Spires chorus.