Richard became a barbershop nerd back in 1981, joining the Chesham Buccaneers in preference to singing madrigals - what a contrast!
Within a year, he was competing in quartet, as well as chorus, and starting to produce his own arrangements.
In 1982, a job move in his Civil Engineering career took Richard to Doncaster, and soon after he joined Hallmark of Harmony in Sheffield, subsequently becoming bass section leader, and working on the Music Team with John Grant. Coaching and arranging become the norm.
In another quartet, Times Square, Richard won a national Bronze Medal in 1986, collecting the Gold Medal the following year. This was also a golden period for Hallmark of Harmony, during which time Richard was a Music Judge.
In later years, Richard directed Harmony Lincs (Lincoln) and Lincoln Mix.
In 2013, a career change into Specialist Teaching (Autism) took Richard to Nottingham and he signed up with Grand Central Chorus, again singing under the direction of John Grant. When John retired and Zac Booles took over, Richard became a member of the Music Team in the role of Music Coach and arranger, a role he has filled until his appointment in 2020, with Mark Soave, as co-director of the chorus, upon Zac’s departure.
Richard sang with Just in Time who won the Seniors Contest in 2012.
Richard won a bronze medal with Mojo mixed quartet in 2016 and sings mixed chorus with Endeavour, Kantado and The Collective. He is the MD at Kantado.
Competition has been a significant part of Richard’s barbershop life; he has won 7 Gold, 11 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.
The appetite for success continues and Richard is excited to be working with Mark as Grand Central moves forward.
Mark has been singing barbershop for 12 years. He found Grand Central at his first convention in Southport 2012 when they stormed to their fifth British Chorus Gold medal.
He moved to Nottingham that summer for further university studies and immediately started the chorus audition process. In his day job, Mark is a research scientist at the University of Nottingham. He works on pharmaceuticals to understand how new medicines work at the cellular level.
Initially, Mark wasn’t sure which voice part he was, having previously sung bass and tenor, but then musical director Zac Booles said, ‘why not give baritone a try?’ and Mark was hooked. Something about the odd baritone notes and more analytical musical lines really interested him in the part.
Over the next few years Mark sang and competed with the chorus, taking on a role within the Music Team, first as assistant baritone section leader, and then baritone section leader.
In the summer of 2018 Zac approached Mark and asked if he was interested in trying directing. Mark jumped at the chance and became the trainee director of Grand Central, learning everything he could off Zac and the rest of the fantastic Music Team at Grand Central. The strong leadership shown by Zac and the Music Team foster an environment at the chorus where musicality is the beating heartbeat of the group.
When Zac announced in 2019 that he would be stepping down from his role as musical director in 2020, Mark and Richard began to formulate a plan of partnership for the future. The two together would play off each other’s strengths to further improve the chorus’ standing in the world of barbershop, and to share our music with audiences all over the country.