History of Cunninghame Choir
Cunninghame Choir was founded in 1978 in order to fill a gap in the musical life of North Ayrshire. There was not in existence a choir whose sole aim was the regular performance of choral and orchestral music. In September 1978, a group of enthusiasts began rehearsing in Beith Community Centre - performing their first concert in April 1979. 40 years on, the choir has followed an interesting musical journey through the guidance of a number of very enthusiastic and experienced Musical Directors.
Adjacent picture taken around 1996 during Dorothy Howden's tenure as Musical Director.
2019 - 40 Years of Cunninghame Choir!
Our 2018-19 season marked 40 years since Cunninghame Choir started singing and performing together. To celebrate this occasion, we commissioned our talented and creative accompanist, composer Maciej Granat, to write us another piece of music for performance in May 2019. This work sets to music a poem by local character, Andrew Aitken, musing on hearing Beith's Parish Church bell toll for the first time in 1810. Our 40th anniversary concert also revisited a previous Choir commission from renowned Scottish composer, Sir James MacMillan. It proved to be a very exciting, emotional and unique concert of music!
In its 44 year history, the Choir has been led by 5 highly talented and enthusiastic Musical Directors.
Tiffany Vong, Musical Director 2016 -
Tiffany joined Cunninghame Choir as Musical Director in September 2016 and is already taking the choir on a new, interesting and highly enjoyable musical journey. You can read Tiffany's biography on our People page.
Robin Versteeg, Musical Director 2007 - 2016
Robin Versteeg was born and brought up in Edinburgh, and studied Music at the University of Edinburgh and Royal Academy of Music in London. As a pianist, Robin performs with singers and instrumentalists throughout the UK and, as a founding member of chamber trio Vocali3e, was featured in Creative Scotland’s prestigious Made in Scotland showcase.
Choral music has played a central part of Robin’s working life over the past ten years. An experienced repetiteur and choral accompanist, Robin has played for the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus, Scottish Opera Education, and Cappella Nova Outreach. He enjoys collaborating with young people and has worked extensively with NYCOS and Glasgow City’s Voice Factory, and as an audition pianist for the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland. As repetiteur for Cromarty Youth Opera, he has assisted on Peter Maxwell Davies’s Cinderella, and Britten’s St. Nicolas and The Little Sweep.
Also a former Musical Director of Eastwood Choral Society, Robin's association with Cunninghame Choir began in 2007, where he immediately began introducing new and varied music to the choir. An overarching theme would bring a variety of genres, styles and musical eras together and make for an interesting and enjoyable concert for choir and audience alike. Have a look at our concerts page to get a feel for the breadth of our repertoire under his direction.
Following our 2015 season, Robin and his wife, Emma, decided that it was time to relocate their young family to the Scottish Highlands. They settled in Dulnain Bridge in the Spey Valley in time for son Elijah to begin school. We thank Robin for his never-ending enthusiasm, commitment and patience as we have navigated our way around some wonderful pieces over the past 9 years. We also wish Robin and his family the very best for their future and hope that he will not forget us. We will certainly miss him!
Edward Caswell, Musical Director 2005 - 2007
Edward Caswell trained as a singer at the Royal College of Music and now teaches singing at RSAMD. As a talented choral conductor and soloist, during his short tenure he introduced Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle and reunited the Choir with Beethoven's Mass in C, Mozart's Ave Verum and highlights of Handel's Messiah as well as some lesser known Christmas Carols and selected choruses from "musical" heavyweights, Rogers and Hammerstein.
Dorothy Howden, Musical Director 1984 - 2005
Commissions under Dorothy Howden
The 15th Anniversary commission, performed in May 1994, was Rasa by Jane Gardner.