About Derby Choral Union

150 years of choral music making

Derby Choral Union is Derby’s longest-running voluntary choir and has performed concerts every year since its formation in 1866. With over 100 members, we hold three concerts each year, performing choral works from the classical to the contemporary to the highest standards.

Now in our 150th year, the choir is recognised as one of the foremost choirs in the East Midlands and continues to attract new members and audience with our innovative programmes of music, guided with the enthusiasm and exacting standards of our Musical Director, Richard Dacey.

In addition to our regular season of three concerts, over the past ten years we have enjoyed five successful overseas tours, the most recent being a concert exchange with the Marienkantorei choir of Osnabrück, Derby’s twin town in May 2015.

Main Players


Dame Emma Kirkby


Dame Emma Kirkby is the internationally renowned soprano and her pre-eminence in the world of early music was demonstrated to perfection in our first Patron's Concert in November 1996, having become Patron in May 1993. In June 2011 Dame Emma was presented with the highly prestigious Queen's Medal for Music.


Richard Dacey

Musical Director

Born in Cardiff, Richard studied at the Royal College of Music and University of London. He has extensive choral experience both in the UK and abroad having worked with some of the world's leading conductors and composers including Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Andrew Davis, Trevor Pinnock, John Rutter and Sir Karl Jenkins. Richard has trained and conducted choirs and choruses of all ages and conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra, the orchestra of the ROH, the Marylebone Camerata and the Heart of England Orchestra. He spent twelve years as Director of Music at Repton School and is currently Head of Performing Arts at the Wigston Academy Trust in Leicester. Richard's diverse musical tastes ensure rehearsals are always lively, informative and enjoyable.


Kate Baker MBE

Deputy Conductor

Kate joined the choir in the 1980s and acts as Deputy to the Musical Director at both rehearsals and concerts, in addition to directing extra-curricular musical events such as our 2014 Christmas fundraiser at Intu Derby and the forthcoming concert at Sutton-on-the-Hill in May 2016.

Kate plays piano and organ and was formerly Head of the Performing Arts Faculty at Heanor Gate Science College. In November 2004 Kate was awarded the MBE for her services to music.


Margaret Williams


Margaret joined the choir in September 2006 as our accompanist, but was already known to many of the choir as she had previously accompanied us at some rehearsals and at performances. In addition to accompanying our rehearsals, Margaret often performs at our concerts, occasionally in duet with her husband Peter.

Margaret studied at Leeds University, graduating with a BA and BMus, and is an associate of the Royal College of Music.


Antony Stevenson


Antony joined the choir in November 2008 and became Chairman in June 2014. He has set out a three-year vision for laying the foundations for the next chapter of the choir’s history as it passes its 150th anniversary season. Since becoming Chairman, Antony has overseen a successful Arts Council funding application, commissioned a new brand identity and began implementing a membership rejuvenation programme.

Antony has over 10 years' experience performing in choral societies and served on the committee of Manchester Universities' Choir and Orchestra Society in 2006/07.

Interested in Joining a Choir in Derby?

We are widely recognised as being one of the friendliest choirs in the region and are always keen to welcome new members to sing with us. If you have been considering joining a choir, you can apply to attend our rehearsals and take the first step towards your music making journey with us.

If you are a full time student or 25 and under and pass your audition, you qualify for our choral scholarship, which means your membership fee is covered by the choir. Members aged 26-35 pay half the membership fee. More information can be found on our Join Derby Choral Union page, which includes a handy FAQ answering many questions about joining the choir.

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