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The Hampshire market town of Andover has a long history of choral singing. The original Andover Choral Society was formed in 1866 to perform Handel’s Messiah accompanied by piano and harmonium. Local newspaper archives show details of a concert in 1887 at which Haydn’s Creation was performed. In the late 1920’s Adrian Boult conducted 260 voices in the local Drill Hall and a music festival was set up in 1927, supported by both Sir Adrian Boult and Sir Malcolm Sargent.


The present Andover Choral Society was inaugurated in 1971 to promote choral singing for all. At least two concerts a year are presented in St Mary’s Church, Andover, at which members are joined by singers and instrumentalists of the highest calibre. Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings at Rookwood School, Andover, and the society is always happy to welcome new members.


Conductor Peter Ford works as a music director, coach, and educator throughout the UK and Europe. His early conducting studies were undertaken both privately with Colin Howard and at the Canford Summer School, overseen by the late George Hurst. Subsequent postgraduate studies with Russell Keable at the University of Surrey resulted in an MMus Conducting awarded with distinction.

In addition to his work with Andover Choral Society, Peter is the Artistic Director of The Black Cat Opera Company, with recent productions including Don GiovanniFalstaffCosì fan Tutte, and La Bohème. Peter is principal guest conductor of Rocket Opera, and productions have included RitaDon Giovanni and The Mikado at Berwick Festival Opera. Operatic productions in 2018 include The Beggar’s OperaAriadne auf Naxos, and HMS Pinafore.

Peter made his international conducting debut at the opening night of the 2016 Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, conducting Così fan Tutte in a collaboration between the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, The Black Cat Opera Company, and acclaimed Estonian scenographer Lilja Blumenfeld.


Peter is a member of music staff for Melofonetica, an organisation established by tenor, musicologist and Italian coach Dr. Matteo Dalle Fratte to promote and preserve the correct use of Italian language in opera. He is a regular coach at Melofonetica events in the UK, and coaches and conducts on the Veneto Opera Summer School in Italy.


British-Irish pianist Julie Aherne is a co-founder, répétiteur, and producer for The Black Cat Opera Company, and in this capacity has worked on staged productions, gala evenings, and corporate engagements. In 2016, the company took their production of Così fan tutte to the Birgitta Festival in Tallinn, collaborating with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed scenographer Lilja Blumenfeld.


Elsewhere, Julie has worked on productions for professional and amateur companies including Opera Della Luna, Celebrate Voice, Rocket Opera, Berwick Festival Opera, Opera Camaratina, and Park Opera.


Julie is a coach and accompanist for Melofonetica, an organisation whose research-based method helps singers achieve clear and expressive sung Italian. In addition to tutoring at their masterclasses and workshops and leading webinars for singers, she coaches and performs on summer schools in Bassano del Grappa, and at the Arte Lirica Festival in Asolo.


Julie is the Musical Director of Woking Ladies Choir and rehearsal pianist for Andover Choral Society. She also regularly deputises at other groups across Surrey and Berkshire including New Egham Singers, Voices Anon, Laudamus, and Genesis Chorale. She is an accompanist for the Association of British Choral Directors and for Royal Holloway, University of London.


Julie studied at Royal Holloway with James Kirby, and later with Matthew Stanley. She has performed concertos by Bach, Mozart, Grieg, and Finzi with orchestras including RHUL Symphony Orchestra and Westminster Chamber Orchestra, with whom she regularly appears as a continuo player.


Chairman: Sue Woodley

Secretary & Registrar: Frances Lynn

Treasurer: Lucille Horsnell

Patrons Secretary: Graham Platford  

Social Secretary: Bernard Sutton

Librarian: Sandra Cramp

Publicity:  Mark Johnson-Ferguson

Soprano Rep: Liz Wallis

Alto Rep: Sue Simmonds

Tenor and Bass Rep: Bernard Sutton

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