Choirs and computers in perfect harmony
BY day, Martin Westhorp is a computer expert who helps people get the most from their IT — but by night he swaps applications for acapella to become Bolton’s answer to choirmaster Gareth Malone.
Like the famous creator of the award-winning Military Wives’ Choir, now a TV favourite, Mr Westhorp has spent most of his adult life sharing his love of music with others.
He has formed choirs all over the country, including one in Bolton where his Singers of Note group meets each month to enjoy music sessions in St Bartholomew’s Church in Westhoughton.
“Singing is a great way of getting people together — and it’s really fun!” said Mr Westhorp, aged 56, from Blackrod.
He was born in Hartlepool to musical parents and played the piano and sang from an early age, performing in school music festivals.
Mr Westhorp took his O and A-level exams in music before studying music and maths, his second love, at UCW Aberystwyth with a possible career in acoustics to combine the two subjects.
Over the years, he added the violin and cello to his musical skills and perfor-med as an accompanist and instrumentalist, composer and arranger.
He joined prestigious choral group the Eliza-bethan Madrigal Singers and started becoming involved in other choirs around the North East, fostering a love of early music.
Mr Westhorp opted for teacher training college in Sheffield and had his first job as a maths teacher near Cleethorpes.
A post as head of maths at Rochdale’s Wardle High School brought him to the North West, but he was later side-tracked by an IT course at Salford University and decided to change careers into computing.
By now, though, he had run several choral groups and workshops and was involved with a variety of choirs.
Mr Westhorp had also begun to specialise in a capella music, solo or group music unaccompanied by musical instrument.
And, as he was by now living in Bolton, he joined the Bolton Chamber Choir.
In 1996, however, to mark his birthday as a one-off celebration, Mr Westhorp decided to contact singers from all the choirs in which he had ever been involved and bring them together.
This prompted the birth of Singers of Note, attracting men and women from all over the country who just loved to sing a capella, and he has taught them multi-part polyphonic music, from four parts to 40.
In 2001, the group began a new venture of travelling and taking their music further afield on “singing days” at various venues, and he also concentrated on finding pieces of unusual and early music to introduce to the singers.
Singers of Note now meets on one Saturday afternoon each month in Bolton.
It involves men and women of all ages, some travelling from as far afield as Chester and Llandudno, as well as a large number of people from the Bolton area.
What they have in common is their love of unaccompanied singing, and the camaraderie of being with like-minded enthusiasts.
Anyone over 18 is welcome at the sessions, although some knowledge of sight reading is important to be able to join.
“I’ve always loved helping people enjoy music, sometimes the kind of music they’ve never heard before,” said Mr Westhorp.
“Singing still gives me at great buzz.
“It’s good exercise, it helps your breathing — and it’s very sociable.
“The perfect way to spend an afternoon.”
l The next meeting of Singers of Note is on Saturday, September 14. For more information, go to singersofnote.com or call Mr Westhorp on 07710 988 974.
Comments are closed on this article.