About Us

    Colin Baines – Musical Director

    Colin Baines - Musical Director

    Colin, our Musical Director and Conductor, studied music at Birmingham and Liverpool Universities. He has conducted the Birmingham Choral Union for over thirty years, directing performances of choral works from Bach’s Mass in B minor to Fanshawe’s African Sanctus in various major venues across the Midlands. He is also deputy chorus master of the City of Birmingham Choir.

    When not working with choirs, he is a freelance performer, accompanying other choirs and soloists, playing the organ, playing keyboard and double bass in a number of dance bands and teaching piano and keyboard. He is a member of the Valentini Piano Trio and has recently played the piano in Elgar’s Piano Quintet and Schubert’s Trout Quintet with the Midland Chamber Players.

    Colin is also a composer, having written a number of children’s musicals and music for many series of BBC programmes including Let’s Move and Something to Think About. He also directs the music for the Festival Arts group in Birmingham and St. David’s (Pembrokeshire).

    He lives in Birmingham with his wife and four grown-up children.

    Darren Hogg – Accompanist and Assistant Chorus Master

    DarrenDarren, Accompanist, born and educated in Birmingham, trained at Birmingham Conservatoire, studying organ, harpsichord and piano accompaniment with David Ponsford and David Saint. Darren is Organist at Halesowen Parish Church (St. John the Baptist) and St. Leonard’s Church, Frankley and is one of two Organists at Lodge Hill Crematorium. He is Accompanist and Assistant Director of Music for Birmingham Choral Union and accompanies many other well-known choirs and societies.

    Darren has also featured as Organist on BBC 1’s Songs of Praise, BBC Radio 2’s Sunday Half Hour and BBC Radio 4’s Daily Service. He also runs his own private teaching practice (Organ, Music Theory and Piano) and is a member of the Birmingham Organists’ Association and has served on the Association council. The Association awarded Darren the Leonard Gibbons Memorial Prize for Young Organists. Darren is married to Barbara, mezzo-Soprano and primary school teacher. They have a daughter, Abigail. Further details may be gleaned from Darren’s website www.darrenhogg.co.uk.

    Paul O’Dell – Chairman

    Paul O'Dell - ChairmanPaul is a tenor member of Birmingham Choral Union and was appointed Chairman in 2011, having previously served as treasurer and librarian. He has been a member for around twenty years and particularly likes the mixture of more and less familiar works that the choir performs. It is a great challenge as an amateur group to strive to meet professional standards of performance and as chairman Paul is determined that the choir will continue its exciting tradition. Paul is a retired accountant and his other hobbies include playing the piano, photography, walking and spending time with his three grandchildren.

    Val Munro – President

    Val1-webVal Munro joined the Birmingham Choral Union in September 1966 straight from teacher training college.
    The first major work she can remember taking part in was Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ in January 1967 in Birmingham Town Hall.
    She has enjoyed singing in many memorable concerts, but ones that stand out are the Verdi ‘Requiem’ in 1967 and the Berlioz ‘Grande Messe des Morts’ in 1972, both with the CBSO as the closing concerts of The Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales.
    The performance of the Fanshawe ‘African Sanctus’ in 1985 also stands out for the novelty of trying to synchronize the choral parts with a tape of African performers.
    For several seasons, in the late ‘70’s, Val was Vice-chairman, but on relinquishing that role has since spent many ‘happy hours’ raising funds for the choir, organizing jumble sales, bring-and-buys featuring her home-made jam, plus waste paper and aluminium can collections (which earned her the nickname of ‘Vagrant Val’ around Kings Heath Park!!)
    More recently she, aided by her husband, Jim, has been instrumental in organizing regular Quiz Nights for both BCU and nominated charities.
    In recognition of her tireless endeavours and enthusiasm, the Choir were delighted to appoint Val Honorary Vice-president in January 2009 and Honorary Life-president in 2013.

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