Musical Directors

Jolyon Dodgon MBE

is our new Musical Director for UCS.
Singing from an early age Jolyon later trained at the Royal Manchester College of Music and became a Lay-Clerk in York Minster and Chester. He was a founder member of the BBC Northern Singers and was their principal baritone soloist for many years with numerous recordings and public performances to his credit.

He was the Director of the macrobert Arts Centre at Stirling University at which time he also became the Director and Conductor of the BBC Scottish Singers. He is now Chairman of the Carlisle Festival, the Westmorland Music Trust which runs the Mary Wakefield Festival in Kendal and Director of Ambleside Choral Society. Jolyon also runs a concert agency and a professional ensemble - Voices of the North.

Heather Paynes was our Musical Director until September 2016

After a childhood spent on Teesside and University years in Birmingham, where she gained not only a degree but a future husband, Brian, Heather’s first home was in Keighley, West Yorkshire. These were happy years during which their three daughters were born; they were tiring years, too, as their first introduction to parenthood resulted in twins!

In 1968 they moved to the East Riding when Brian was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Music Department of the College of Education in Hull. Heather taught as Head of Music Department in senior schools in both Hull and the East Riding.

Throughout these years her great love was choral music. As well as her school choirs - which were always held in high regard – she directed adult SATB choirs and sang in various large and small groups. Thirty years sped by in that area before they decided to move west and retire to South Lakeland.

Heather felt adrift in retirement but was soon singing and conducting again, firstly in the Sedbergh area where she sang for many years in the Sedbergh School/Town Choir, revelling in the sound of rich young voices; she then conducted the Sedbergh Summer Singers, and at the same time acted as co-conductor of the W.I. Federation Choir, a choir she has for a long time now directed as supremo.

In 2000 she was appointed Director of Ulverston Choral Society and fifteen happy years have again sped by. Now retirement looms... again.

In her own words, Heather says:

“I am truly appreciative of the support given to me by my husband, Brian, as our accompanist - both for rehearsals and concerts – and by the untiring efforts of loyal choir members that have resulted in such high standards of performance. I wish them all a future of further success and fulfilment”.

Brian Paynes was our accompanist until September 2016

After musical studies between 1951 and 1956 at the universities of Birmingham and Reading Brian spent near-forty years or so in the teaching profession. During those years he firstly headed the music departments in two Grammar schools in Yorkshire, was then involved in teacher training in the East Riding, before finally returning to school teaching as head of the music departments at two other secondary schools in that county. He retired in 1989.

Outside the classroom during that period - in addition to marrying his fellow music student, Heather, in 1958 and, with her rather necessary assistance, producing three daughters, all of whom followed in their parents’ musicianly footsteps – Brian pursued a busy schedule revolving around private teaching and choral and orchestral activities. Conductorships of choirs, church organist positions, membership of the Leeds Philharmonic Choir, trainer of the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanist and deputy conductor of the Hull Choral Union, Musical Director of the Hull Savoyards, director for 30 years of the Elizabethans (a chamber choir founded by Heather and Brian) and close involvement with the Kingston upon Hull Musical Festival (official accompanist and for ten years, Chairman).

Throughout his career Brian has maintained his concert performances as pianist and accompanist and has amassed considerable experience in a wide variety of musical fields. Retirement has made little difference to that regime – after all, it is a truism that a musician never retires!