Choir People

Jim Watson – Musical Director and Conductor

Jim WatsonJim was a teacher of Mathematics but singing has been a major part of his life since joining a church choir at the age of six. He progressed down through the voice ranges ending with the tenors – probably the most sought after voice! After many years on the “back row” he found a teacher and began to take singing more seriously, eventually achieving an A.R.C.M. in Singing Performance. He has won many awards at music festivals and has taken lead rôles in oratorio, operatic events and in concerts. He has a wide experience of choral singing from small groups to large choirs, including the BBC. Northern Singers and under the direction of a great variety of conductors.

Jim has been a choral conductor for over twenty years and has led The Condate Singers for the last six years. He works hard with the choir to pass on the nuances in singing that he has spent so long learning and practising for solo performance. His great satisfaction comes from achieving a good performance, but even more so from seeing the pleasure, enjoyment and excitement in the faces of his singers. This is the fundamental objective of the choir.

Jim still sings regularly with a choir and is frequently called upon to assist with other groups having ‘tenor problems’.

Jim  has three sons and six grandchildren.

Janet Scott – Secretary

Janet Scott Janet hails from Ross on Wye in rural Herefordshire. She trained as a teacher in Manchester where she met her future husband, Graham. Most of her working life has been spent in Mid – Cheshire schools but she is now busily retired. Her love of singing began at school where everything stopped for choir practice after lessons on Fridays. She studied music at college as one of her subsidiary subjects but has taught geography and mathematics for most of her teaching career. When she moved to Cheshire in 1968, she joined the Northwich & District Festival Choir, led by Cyril Dawes. She remained with the Festival Choir until its demise in 2001. Still wanting to sing on a Thursday evening she joined with other like minded singers to found the Condate Singers. She has been the choir secretary since its inception. Janet and Graham have two children and five grandchildren.

Mike McNeal – Treasurer

Mike McNeal I have always enjoyed choral singing and can’t remember a time which I wasn’t a member of a choir. I started singing at school followed by ten years as a chorister at my church choir in Blurton, Stoke-on-Trent. I carried on singing at Chester College and was part of the choir that came second in its class at the Llangollen Eisteddfod. During this time I was a member of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society performing in the chorus of HMS Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance and the role of Dick Dauntless in Ruddigore. While living in Sandbach, I sang with the Belmont Choir and the Winsford Operatic Society and on moving to Cuddington joined the Northwich Festival Choir where I remained for many years until it was disbanded. I then became a member of the Condate Singers when they formed in 2002 and am currently the treasurer of the choir.

Karen Benson – Chairman

Karen has been singing in choirs all her life – at school in Ballymena, and at Coleraine High School, County Londonderry. In her teens she sang in St Patrick’s Church choir, Coleraine, and as a student in Stranmillis College Choir, Belfast. Since then, she has been a member of a number of choirs in Belfast and Cheshire (18 years in The Condate Singers), and most recently in the Counterpoint Choir in Knutsford. Karen was a primary school teacher for many years in Belfast, London and Cheshire and she gained a PGCE in “Singing in the Curriculum” from Chester University in 2012, and taught singing for 8 years at Goostrey Primary School before her retirement in 2020. She is married to Steven who is an organist, singer and occasional choir master, and they have three sons, who are all musical too. She enjoys the social side of being in a choir and working as team towards choir performances.