Our singers

Alison West
I am a part-time ensemble and choral singer, choral director and composer. I live and work in the beautiful, if wet, South Pennines. I have performed regularly for many years, both with the Hepton Singers, a chamber choir based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, & until 2008 with the vocal ensemble Cantorelli, of which I was a founder member.Since 2002 I have co-directed the Hepton Singers, who, despite being an amateur choir have acquired a local reputation for singing imaginative and unusual repertoire, often by living composers; and I am very proud and privileged to be a part of that. I began composing a cappella choral music in 2006 & haven’t stopped since!My two largest works have both been collaborations with Donald Atkinson, a local poet, and winner of the Peterloo Poets Prize and the TLS Cheltenham Festival Prize. Rehearsing the languages of birdswas first performed by the Hepton Singers in July 2007, and Afresh, seven timesin July 2010, both at the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.I have also written music for women’s voices: Enchanted,a setting of a poem by Angela Cairns, describing a boat trip to remote Scottish islands; and Sea Songs,an atmospheric setting of three Emily Dickinson poems. These were premiered in October 2010 by Alyssium. Recently I collaborated with the poet Amanda Dalton, whose first collection was shortlisted for the Forward prize, setting poems about the Brontë sisters. From the parsonage was first performed by Alyssium in February 2012 in Todmorden.
Fiona Chen
I was born in Sabah, Malaysia. From an early age, I realised singing was something very dear to my heart. After completing my secondary school education in Malaysia, I came to England to study at Trinity College of Music, London.I enjoy singing a variety of vocal music from operatic aria, art songs, Chinese folksongs to intimate a cappella music. I aim to be a versatile and adaptable singer.
I have performed in Raymond Gubbay’s ‘Opera in the Round’ productions at the Royal Albert Hall and big arenas in various cities in the UK, made appearance with various choirs singing oratorio solos. I have also performed for the Chinese Consulate General of Manchester on several occasions.Currently, I sing with Cantare, a vocal trio group which mainly focus on show songs, standard ballads and popular operatic aria for special events. I am also a member of The Savile Singers, a small SATB chamber choir which based in Savile Park, Halifax.I am thrilled to be a part of Alyssium. I enjoy the ‘journey’ of singing Alison’s imaginative music-from finding my way through a maze of ‘unpredictable’ musical notes and rhythms to creating layers of coherent sound and expressing emotions with my fellow singers. It is great that everyone shares the same goals and interests.
Hannah Gallyon
I have always loved singing and was very lucky as a child to attend a Junior school with an excellent music teacher who specialised in singing and ran a community children’s choir in Dorset outside school, plus gave free small group lessons in classical singing to choir members. Joining this choir gave me a passion for choral singing and led to many exciting musical and life experiences (such as competing in Southampton Music Festival, heats of Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year, and a number of the International Eisteddfods in Llangollen, plus a choir trip to Vienna ).
As I’ve got older my love of singing has stayed with me and I’ve searched out new singing opportunities wherever I’ve lived. I seem to average at membership of three choirs at a time – my hunger for variety of musical genre and need for new challenges doesn’t appear to be satisfied by any fewer than this! Currently, in addition to Alyssium, I am a member of Enkelit (a York-based a cappella female voice choir, specialising in Finnish music) and Hepton Singers.
Hazel Bone
I have a passion for the expression of poetry through music – many years ago, whilst at university, I had a rewarding musical partnership with a singer, exploring the lieder repertoire. These days I’m particularly interested in contemporary compositions for a cappella voices. After many years singing with Hepton Singers I was delighted to have the opportunity to sing Ali’s lovely music in this small group. As well as playing the piano, I play keyboard and harp in a local Ceilidh band.
Melissa WellsMelissa Wells Melissa Wells
I have always sung. My vocal journey has taken in school and church choral work, then Oldham Girls’ Choir throughout my teenage and uni years. I then spent years in musical theatre, working principally with Oldham’s ‘Increasingly Important Theatre Company’, then Whitworth Amateurs and taking the female leads in Chess and Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, along with ensemble roles in Godspell, A Slice of Saturday Night and Return to the Forbidden Planet. Motherhood took over – as it does – for a decade or so, but my New Year’s resolution for January 2012 saw me accepted into the Heptons and then, later the same year, into Alyssium. What joy!! Singing is so good for the soul, and singing this repertoire, with these women, is therapy indeed!
Stella King
My earliest school report (age 6) noted “Stella is very musical” (sub-text: we can’t stop her singing all day…..could the parents have a word?). But unselfconscious singing was silenced in my early teens by the comments of an insensitive school choir conductor, and I didn’t sing again until my thirties. Then the sound and repertoire of my local chamber choir (The Hepton Singers) and the obvious fun my friends therein had making the music together finally drew me in.Since then I have had wonderful experiences at Early Music Fora workshops and summer schools, developing confidence and experience (www.nwemf.org.uk). I have begun to understand (from the inspirational teaching of Deborah Catterall and also from my work as an Acupuncturist) that that my whole body is the instrument and that singing freely it is often a matter of “doing” very little other than being present and aware, being myself and thus allowing my voice to come out. A good guide for living too, I think, and still very much work in progress.
Singing with Alyssium fulfills a long-held wish to sing in a small ensemble and work on developing the communication and sensitivity between performers that I have seen on stage in other ensembles. Singing Alison’s newly composed music is a particular treat and privilege – the world hears it first from our mouths, which is a remarkable thing.