Spires Board and management team
The activities of Spires Music are controlled by Spires Music Limited, a company limited by guarantee (see foot of front page for statutory details). The current Directors of the Company are listed below. They are supported by a dedicated management team and a number of regular volunteers.
Dr Helen Atwood (Chair)
Helen Atwood (Spires Chair) lived and worked in the USA for ten years, completing a PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. On returning to the UK, she lectured at Birmingham University before becoming a senior manager in Coventry City Council’s Children’s Services and a tutor in management studies for the Open University and the University of Warwick.
Helen's interest in music is lifelong. An erstwhile flautist, she has sung with the University of Warwick Chorus since moving to Coventry in 1985, and with Spires Philharmonic Chorus since 2006, where she is also Spires Front of House Manager.
Nicola Fisher (Treasurer)
Nicola is a Chartered Accountant with a lifelong interest in music, both as a performer and listener. She now runs her own small accountancy practice in Nuneaton.
Another clarinettist and recorder player she was a founder member of and played with Bedworth Symphony Orchestra for more than 30 years. A keen chamber music player she currently plays with the Braunston Ensemble.
As a singer Nicola has been a member of many local Choral Societies and now sings with Spires Philharmonic Chorus.
In her spare time Nicola is a gardener and cook, enjoys foreign travel, walks in the countryside and practises yoga. Her retirement ambition is to become a better violin player.
Kathryn Hardy (Chorus Manager)
Kathryn has pursued a life-long passion for singing. She has appeared as a soloist in both Oratorio and Opera and is a member of several local choirs. She is also keen to share her enthusiasm and has taught at many local schools. She teaches voice privately and one pupil has recently won a national competition resulting in a professional tour.
As Chorus Manager of Spires Music, 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 chorus. No audition is necessary and the choir rehearses on a variety of different days during the period leading to a concert.
Mike Torbe (Schools Liaison Officer)
Mike taught in primary and secondary schools and in higher education before working for Coventry local educational authority as an educational adviser until his retirement in 1997.
He has always loved music—he was brought up on Beethoven's symphonies—and as a teenager and young man sang folk songs, for which he learned to play the piano and guitar. At university he played jazz in modern jazz bands and took lessons in classical guitar from a pupil of Segovia. Twenty years passed as he worked and brought up a family without much musical involvement, and he then became active in music again in the 1980s, playing bass, banjo and keyboards in ceilidh bands, for which he wrote a good deal of their dance music.
He has returned to choral singing since his retirement, and also has taken composing seriously. He composed the music for Spires’ major work Sing Us Your Dreams in 2015, with Avril Newey’s poems remembering World War 1, and has written other pieces for choir, including his setting of the medieval folk song Bitter Withy, which Spires performed at the Allesley Music Festival. He is currently working on a setting of Avril’s poem on Edith Cavell, which is being considered for performance in Westminster Abbey and Norwich Cathedral in 2019 in services to commemorate the centenary of the return of Cavell’s remains to this country.
In addition to the members of the main Board, the following additional members of the management team assist with the administration of Spires' activities
Colin Touchin (Artistic Director and Conductor)
Colin is the founder of Spires Music. He was Director of Music at the University of Warwick for over 14 years.
His full biographical details are set out on a separate page here.
Jack Lovell (Chorus Director)
Jack Lovell is a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Orchestral Conducting masters course
His full biographical details are set out on a separate page here.
Alistair Kennedy (Orchestra Leader)
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.
Chris Wiltshire (Company Secretary)
Chris is a Chartered Accountant and a Senior Lecturer in Financial Reporting, Professional Ethics and Tax at the University of Gloucestershire. His musical credentials include an ATCL Diploma in Piano Accompaniment, and for a number of years was involved as an Official Accompanist at the Leamington Spa and Birmingham competitive Festivals and part of the team of accompanists at the annual NODA Summer School in Loughborough. He is associated with the company which runs the very successful Stratford Music Centre.
Between its formation in 1999 and 2009 Chris was a vocal coach and rehearsal accompanist for Sing Live Central (part of the then Sing Live UK). His responsibilities included a number of opportunities to guest conduct the chorus and orchestra in Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
He has worked regularly with Jayne May-Sysum, soprano, with whom he has presented concerts over a number of years, and released a CD covering a range of classical and non-classical styles.
September 2009 saw the beginning of a new venture working with Barry Todd and the 200-strong Midland Voices and Orchestra which continues to give a series of enormously successful concerts at Warwick Arts Centre and in other venues in the area.