David Johnson

Music Director 1975 - 2009
Honorary Patron 2023 - now

Born in Tottenham, David had piano lessons at the age of seven with a local teacher, Miss Bird, for one shilling and sixpence (seven and a half new pence) an hour! He joined the church choir at St Ann’s Tottenham, where he later became head choirboy, and then organist for a number of years. Whilst in London, he studied the organ at Trinity College of Music with Richard Popplewell, and gained his Associate (ATCL) Diploma in Organ Performance the same year as England last won the Football World Cup (1966!)

David was employed by Barclays Bank in the computer side of their operation. When Barclays relocated their IT staff to Radbroke Hall in Knutsford in 1973, he moved to Congleton. While Barclays Bank provided him with his salary, making music with other people has always provided his real fulfilment.

Shortly after moving to Congleton, David became choirmaster at St Mary’s Church, Astbury. He continued his organ studies with Roger Fisher at Chester Cathedral, where he gave a number of recitals. As a vocalist he sang with the Britten Singers, the William Byrd Singers and the BBC Northern Singers. With the BBC Northern Singers he performed regularly on television and radio – including appearances in a series of TV Gala Evenings starring Dr Evadne Hinge and Dame Hilda Brackett!

David was asked to become Music Director of Congleton Choral Society in 1975. With a young family, and often working away, he said he would do it ‘for a few months’ until they got someone else. He finally retired in May 2009, after 34 years!

The Society performed a wide range of music during David’s time as MD: Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, Bach B Minor Mass and St John Passion, Mozart Requiem, Vivaldi Gloria, Mendelsohn Elijah, Haydn Creation, and a memorable performance of David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus in 2001 in the presence of the composer.

David took choir members on a number of memorable overseas week-long singing tours to Bruges, Amsterdam, Lille, Mechelen, and Brussels, with the invaluable help and organisational support of Mary Murphy. He also formed the Congleton Singers, a small chamber choir drawn from CCS members. The Singers provided music for Anglican cathedral services, filling in when a cathedral choir was away on holiday. Over a period of 20 years Congleton Singers performed this role in many cathedrals, including Chester, Durham, Lincoln, Wells, Peterborough and Lichfield.

During most of David’s time as MD, Sir Bernard Lovell FRS was the Society’s president. Sir Bernard, who established the Jodrell Bank telescope, was an amateur musician himself, and played the organ at his local church of St Peter's Swettenham.

In 2005 David Johnson was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the Town Mayor, Mrs Margaret Williamson, in recognition of his, and the Society's, outstanding contribution to the town of Congleton. In the picture, Margaret Williamson is flanked by David Johnson on the left and the Society's Secretary, Ken Ratcliff, on the right.

On his retirement in May 2009 he was invited, in recognition of his service, to attend a garden party hosted by the late Queen and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace. David was made an Honorary Patron of the Society in recognition of his thirty-four years of dedicated service to the choir and to music-making.
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