Musical Director

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The Musical Director of the Society is Carleton Etherington.


Carleton Etherington is organist of Tewkesbury Abbey. Educated at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester and London’s Royal Academy of Music, he studied with Peter Hurford and David Sanger and graduated with BMus from London University. Carleton was organ scholar at St Bride’s Church Fleet Street and then Sub Organist at Leeds Parish Church. He took up his present appointment in Tewkesbury in 1996. He is a graduate of London University and a holder of the Academy’s Recital Diploma.

Throughout this time he built up a reputation as one of the leading players of his generation, winning first prize at the 1992 Paisley International Organ Competition and the Royal College of Organists Performer of the Year in 1993.

Carleton has given recitals throughout the UK and in Europe, Australia and the USA. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3 many times and has made various CD recordings, both as soloist and accompanist, which have been warmly received by the critics. Of 'Variation', recorded on the Milton organ at Tewkesbury Abbey (available on the Regent label), ‘Organists’ Review’ wrote, “….leaves the listener thrilled by the experience of hearing this repertoire played by a master organist on a masterpiece of an organ.”  In 2009 he performed the complete organ works of Felix Mendelssohn on the Grove organ at Tewkesbury, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the composer. A CD on the Delphian label, "Carleton Etherington plays The Grove & Milton Organs of Tewkesbury Abbey", (DCD34089) was released early in 2011.

Since moving to Tewkesbury he has involved himself with the local music scene. As well as Pershore Choral he is conductor of Cirencester Choral Society and organ tutor at Dean Close School, Cheltenham. As part of Pershore Choral's  60th anniversary celebrations he conducted Elgar's Dream of Gerontius in Pershore Abbey.

He lives in Tewkesbury with his wife, Katie, and their two children, Hannah and John.



The Accompanist and Assistant Director


I was brought up in Morecambe, of Northern Ireland/Lancashire ancestry, where I went to school with Janette Scott (Thora Hird’s daughter), knew Mrs Bartholomew (Eric Morecambe’s mother), and started to ham it up in amateur dramatics and play all the right notes on the piano (but not necessarily in the right order) at an early age. When I was 7 my grandfather (piano teacher, organist & choirmaster) took me in hand. After losing patience, he handed me over to my father - another professional pianist who had played in a Dance Band during the Second World War – who then took over my piano tuition. After losing patience, he handed me over to another tutor in Morecambe, then Lancaster, and finally Manchester.

In 1958, aged 15, I was awarded a Gold Medal from The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, gaining the highest marks (143 out of 150) at Grade 8 (the top grade) for any instrument – mine being the piano. The ABRSM had just stopped having gold medals minted so I was given some piano music instead - a sorrow (and the Beethoven sonatas) I have carried with me ever since. The next year I was despatched on a steam train every other Saturday to Manchester to have piano lessons from Claude Biggs, John Ogden’s tutor. Subsequently I had lessons between 1960 and 1964 from Clifton Helliwell for accompaniment and John Ogden for solo work. Sir John Barbirolli also cultivated my love of conducting.

In 1964, I graduated from Manchester University with a Mus.B. (Hons) degree and from the Royal Manchester College of Music with a GRSM degree and ARMCM (Teaching) and ARMCM (Performance) Diplomas. Whilst there, I was Chairman of Manchester University Chorus which took its members from the whole University and regularly broadcast from the BBC Radio North studios in Manchester where Clifton Helliwell was the resident accompanist.

Suffice it to say that I have produced, directed, or performed in all manner of pantomimes, olde-tyme music halls, plays, musicals, operas, operettas, oratorios and concerts. Most recently, in December 2009, I was musical director of ‘Toad of Toad Hall’ for PODS at No.8 and will be MD again for ‘The Merry Widow’ in June, and ‘The Slipper and the Rose’ in December,  2011. Other commitments include: singing (tenor) with St Nicholas' (Bach's) Church Choir, Leipzig, in November 2012 - Mozart's 'Requiem' and Bach's 'Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott'; vocal Coach for PODS production at No.8 of 'The Secret Garden' 3-8 December 2012 and Musical Director for PODS production of 'Chess' 3-8 June 2013, also at No8.

I joined Pershore Choral 26 years ago and continue to work with them as accompanist and assistant conductor. Two years ago I suggested a Beethoven concert to include the ‘Choral Fantasia’ and the ‘Mass in C’. This idea was taken up and what I hope you heard was the result.