Current – Kathryn Ridgeway
Our Musical Director from the beginning of 2017 is Kathryn Ridgeway. Kathryn had long been a friend of the choir and helped us out with some of our rehearsals in the early weeks after the death of Jeffrey Vaughan Martin. She is a friendly and fun personality and has a vast experience in directing choirs both in the UK and touring abroad. Since taking charge, the choir have very much enjoyed her amazing energy and enthusiasm with dynamic rehearsals and she is determined that choir will learn and move forward at a pace which continues to amaze us all.
Kathryn graduated with a BMus (Hons) from Sheffield University where she also trained as a violinist under the Lindsay String Quartet and Martin Milner. She pursued her playing and teaching career in the Southeast as Head of Instrumental Studies for Mid-Kent, performing with local orchestras and chamber ensembles; she later became Head of Strings at Trent College.
Kathryn is an enthusiast in making music accessible to all and was a key player in the creation of a Residential Summer Holiday Music Course for young string players in Kent which was held at Repton Preparatory School in Derbyshire. She has worked with the Kent County Youth Orchestra and toured Brazil, Holland and France and conducted at the Benenden Summer School. She extended her experience and expertise within music education in schools, re-energising music departments, improving results and extra-curricular provision and making the subject engaging and successful at all levels; an excellence which was recognised nationally by Chris Woodhead and Ofsted.
She has organised Choir Tours to destinations in Europe and wider afield including very successful tours to China and the USA. She directed choral concerts in major London venues with repertoire including The Armed Man, Mikado, Showboat, Noye’s Fludde, Songs of Sanctuary, Fauré Requiem, Pergolesi Stabat Mater, The Creation. School productions were highly successful including My Fair Lady, Hairspray, We Will Rock You, Guys and Dolls, Grease, Oliver, Forbidden Planet; she produced the first performance in the south-east of the school edition of Les Miserables.
As part of Bromley High School’s 125th Anniversary celebrations, under her direction the whole school community performed Carmina Burana in the Royal Albert Hall with a choir of 200, an orchestra of 100, choreographed for 100 dancers. Kathryn continues to perform regularly in the Southeast and is closely involved in music in local primary schools. She is also the Musical Director for the Maidstone Singers.
June 2016 – December 2016 – Rupert Bond
Ruper Bond took over in June 2016 following the death of our founding Musical Director Jeffrey Vaughan Martin. He directed us through our summer and Christmas terms with highlights being a shared concert with the world famous Stile Antico as well as an autumn spectacular with the Eynesford concert band. We also enjoyed concerts in both Rochester and Canterbury cathedrals singing new material and having a great time. Sadly due to the pressures of work and his commitments, Rupert stood down from his position at the beginning of 2017. We had a fun couple of terms with Rupert where we grew and developed and we thank him sincerely for taking the choir forward during this period.
February 2012 – April 2016 – Jeffrey Vaughan Martin
West Malling Community choir were shocked and immensely saddened to announce the death of our beloved musical director, Jeffrey Vaughan Martin, on Friday 15th April. He was only with us for rehearsal on the Tuesday as normal so it was a huge shock to lose him so suddenly a couple of days later. Jeffrey had led us since the choir was formed back in February 2012 and had been not only an inspirational leader and teacher but had become a great friend and colleague.
Jeffrey Vaughan Martin studied Mathematics and Music at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and Education at Oxford University. He won a Scholarship to study conducting on the Gulbenkian Conducting Course at the Guildhall School of Music and then entered the teaching profession and spent 21 years as a Specialist Music Inspector for the County of Kent.
He was music director of Maidstone Choral Union for 34 years, and founded the Kent Youth Wind Orchestra, the Kent County Junior Choir, Maidstone Youth Music Society, The Maidstone Youth Singers, The Maidstone Singers, West Malling Community Choir and he co-founded Jupiter Workshops with Jane Anderson. He helped to formed West Malling Community Choir in 2012 and has created a fun, community group which has improved considerably over the years, often singing in four parts.
Jeffery was incredibly passionate about music and determined to teach us, not just about singing but the theory of music, techniques and simply the joy of joining together as a group for a shared song. He was often strict, sometimes scatty, but he knew what he wanted from the choir and knew that if we worked hard and stretched ourselves we could achieve great things. And great things we sang, inspired by Jeffery who taught us not limit ourselves and to believe in the magic of music.
Jeffery was one of a kind, a complete inspiration and our beloved friend. We are so grateful for his teachings, his love of music and his support in making West Malling Community choir the choir that it is today. And it’s his legacy that carries us forward, forever missing our twinkly-eyed friend, but determined to continue to reach for the stars, to be the best we possibly can be and to spread the joy of communal singing far and wide. He is and will be greatly missed.