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Aylesbury Festival Choir
People - Nick Austin- Piers Maxim - David Aylett - Rowena Gibbons - Thelma King - Our Members

Nick Austin - Music Director

We are delighted that from January 2017 Nick Austin is our new Music Director.

Nick is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he studied under Carola Grindea and Harold Dexter.
Nick has been rehearsal pianist for the Bracknell Choral Society since 1981. He regularly accompanies and plays continuo in their concerts.
An avid show tune lover, Nick was Musical Director for the Crowthorne Musical Players from 1988 to 2016. Recent productions included Hello, Dolly!, Guys and Dolls, Carousel, Pirates of Penzance (Broadway Version), Oklahoma, Singin' in the Rain and Fiddler on the Roof. Last year he was Musical Director for Reading Operatic Society in their production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The show received 3 nominations from the National Operatic & Dramatic Association including ‘Best Chorus’.
Nick has been Musical Director of Stanmore Choral Society since September 2006. Performances since then have included Brahms' German Requiem, Jenkins' The Armed Man, Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Creation, Mozart's Requiem, Britten's St Nicolas, Faure's Requiem, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle and Orff’s Carmina Burana in a joint concert with Thames Voyces.
Nick has conducted the chamber choir Thames Voyces since January 2013. Works performed include Handel’s Coronation Anthems, Bach’s Jesu meine freude, Durufle’s Requiem, Rutter’s Gloria, Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor and Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb.
Nick is also an occasional accompanist for the Walton & Weybridge Amateur Operatic Society.
Nick orchestrates, arranges and composes for various musical and dance groups. Much of his output is tailor made music for dance schools and amateur choral groups.

Nick Austin - Music Director

Piers Maxim - President

Piers became President of Aylesbury Festival Choir in 2004.

He is a former boy chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral; following his Music degree at Cambridge University, he continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama London. He has composed choral and instrumental music since the age of 7 – a highlight was a commission for the Millennium eve service of celebration at Southwark cathedral in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

As conductor, assistant and chorus master, he has worked regularly in the opera houses of Europe including the Staatsoper, Berlin, La Monnaie, Brussels and Le Theatre des Champs Elysees, Paris. He made his USA debut conducting The Magic Flute in New York in 2007; he then toured South Africa with this production to critical acclaim. In 2010 he conducted the first performance of a staged baroque opera – Handel’s Semele - in China.

In 2011 he was joint winner of the USA Longfellow Chorus Cantata Composition competition and has worked on many other commissions.

As conductor of several English choirs and choruses, including Aylesbury Festival Choir for 6 years, Piers has conducted most of the choral and choral-symphonic repertoire. He is now Director of Music at Great Malvern Priory and Musical Director of Epson Chamber Choir.

Piers Maxim - President

David Aylett – Founder

David, an architect by profession, founded the choir in 1958 as an informal group giving concerts of carols and Christmas music. This soon grew into a permanent choir originally named the December Festival Choir which he conducted for 27 years. He then sang in the tenor section until 2009 and continued to organise and conduct our carol concerts for many years.

He was Music Adviser to Aylesbury Vale District Council and organised and conducted a regular series of Music for Everyone concerts, combining choral and orchestral works. In 1975 he organised and conducted a performance of Handel’s Messiah to mark the opening of Aylesbury Civic Centre. In 2004 in recognition of his services to amateur music for over 50 years, Making Music gave him the national Lady Hilary Groves Award.

David composed choral and orchestral music and in November 2008 the Aylesbury Festival choir premiered With Voice Divine, a work for choir, soloists and orchestra which David composed to celebrate our 50th anniversary season. You can hear an extract on this web site.

Sadly David passed away in September 2014.

David Aylett - Founder

Rowena Gibbons - Accompanist

Rowena Gibbons studied oboe (principally) and piano at Chetham's School of Music, Manchester and since the age of 16 has played for choirs, instrumentalists, singers, ballet schools and church services.

Currently she is also accompanist to Lord Williams' Festival Chorus, Thame Choral Society, Towcester Choral Society and job shares as organist at St Dunstan's, Monks Risborough.

Yearly she organises a choral concert as part of the Ulverston International Music Festival in Cumbria and on her home turf teaches and plays for the vast majority of Associated Board and Trinity exams for Milton Keynes Music Service.

Thelma King - Accompanist

Thelma King - Tribute

Aylesbury Festival Choir would like to dedicate our April 2018 concert to the memory of Thelma King who sadly passed away in March. Thelma became our accompanist in 2004 but retired due to ill health in 2017. An added bonus of her appointment was that her late husband Tony joined the choir as a bass!

She was born in Leamington Spa, and became the official accompanist for Leamington Male Voice Choir and Warwick and Kenilworth Choral Society while still at school. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music and moved to Buckinghamshire where she taught for many years in Chesham and Milton Keynes. She then became a full-time accompanist, and played for Princes Risborough Music Society, Marlow Choral Society, Chesham Musical Theatre Company, Halton Singers, Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir, Wycombe Orpheus Male Voice Choir and many festivals and master classes.

Thelma’s quiet, unassuming manner belied her prodigious talent as a pianist and her exceptional sight-reading ability; she would glance through a new piece of music and then play it faultlessly. The choir was convinced that she had an extra pair of hands as she could play all the voice parts and the accompaniment simultaneously and would always hear when a particular group needed extra help with their notes.

She was a much loved and valued part of our choir for many years and we will miss her.


Thelma King - Accompanist
..... and of course Our Members!
Aylesbury Festival Choir in rehearsal
Aylesbury Festival Choir in rehearsal