Musical Director: Paul Cook FRSA

Paul was educated at Chetham's before winning an entrance scholarship at seventeen to study at the RNCM. He subsequently worked as a session singer at the BBC and with various ensembles and opera companies at home and abroad which included several years at Scottish Opera. Paul has performed at some of Europe's most prestigious concert venues including Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Teater an der Wien in Vienna and he toured Europe with The Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields. 

Paul is a Certified Teacher of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and was awarded the status with the highest classification of 'Excellent'. He graduated with a first class honours degree in Music Education from UWIC and has several performance diplomas in pipe organ, piano, singing and written diplomas in music theory and composition. Paul passed the Diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in Vocal Teaching with Distinction. He has completed the Level 1 and 2 courses in the Estill Voice Model and currently has students studying at Italia Conti, Arts Ed, GSA and Mountview.

Paul is the author of the forty 'Pete the Bee' story books which are sold by all major online retailers globally and 'Silly Stories About Vegetables' which are enjoyed in homes and schools around the world.

Paul currently combines his work as a teacher, musician and author - not necessarily in that order. He is currently Head of Music at St Alban's RC High School in Pontypool and, during the last fifteen years, has led the school choirs on twenty-three international concert tours all over Europe and as far afield as New York. 

Success as a choral conductor came in 2008 when St Alban's Chamber Choir won the special 'Award of the Head of the Jury' at the Warsaw International Choral Festival and the Stagecoach National Youth Choir of Wales won the Stagecoach International Choral Competition at Symphony Hall in Birmingham. 

Paul is married to Welsh soprano Jill Padfield. The couple celebrated the birth of their first child Matthew in April 2012. 

His interests, in the little free time he has, include fooling around with his young son, spending time with his wife and trading on the stock markets.

Paul is extremely grateful to Meryl for her strong musical and moral support, Martin Hodson for organising him all year round behind the scenes and the choristers for their unerring commitment and good humour. 

Paul was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in July 2017.




Accompanist:
Meryl Gittins

Meryl was born in the local area and began piano lessons at a young age. She attended local schools and developed her love of music at Newbridge Grammar School where her love of accompanying was nurtured.

Upon leaving school she studied music at Newton Park College, Bath and graduated from Bristol University. She then took up her first teaching post at St. Julian's High School, Newport.


After having a number of years looking after her two young children, she returned to teaching and spent the rest of her teaching career at Ty-Sign Primary School in Risca where she became Music Coordinator.


Meryl developed a very successful school choir also forming a great bond with Risca Male Choir. The children were given the opportunity to sing at prestigious venues and thousands of children were introduced to choral singing.


Now retired, Meryl is still heavily involved in local music making. She joined the choir in Crosskeys in 1993 and became the rehearsal accompanist soon after.


In 2015, Meryl became one of the first BBC Music Day Unsung Heroes for music in the community. She now wonders how she ever found the time to go to school!!

www.gwentchorale.com 2018