Mark Dancer, Musical Director
Mark Dancer took up the Directorship of Portsmouth Festival Choir in the spring of 2021 during the choral shutdown caused by Covid-19, having been for some years Assistant Director. He is also currently Director of Music and Organist of St Peter’s Church, Petersfield and Conductor of the Petersfield Choral Society, continuing his long career of choral conducting.
He read music at Durham University and was Organ Scholar of the College of St Hild and St Bede, studying the organ with Alan Thurlow and David Hill. He holds the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO) and the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM) in organ performance. An accomplished singer, Mark’s love of choral music stems from his time as a chorister at Ewell Parish Church (Surrey) and he studied singing with renowned operatic bass Hervey Alan. He joined his first choral society whilst in the sixth form and has been involved with at least one ever since.
As an organist, Mark has performed in St Paul’s Cathedral, Birmingham Cathedral and Town Hall, Portsmouth Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral, All Saints, Ryde, etc., as well as for the Petersfield Musical Festival and Portsmouth Festivities
Playing with “sparkle, imagination and a wide dynamic palette”, Mark Dancer is described as a “fine musician and sensitive accompanist” by Ann Pinhey in the Petersfield Post.
Recent performances have included as organist with the Renaissance Choir for their performance of Mozart’s Vespers K339 and Michael Haydn’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah with Portsmouth Festival Choir and a livestreamed organ recital from St Mary’s, Portsea in May.
His YouTube channel, Mark Dancer – Anacrusis Music, set up in 2020, now contains nearly one hundred video recordings of organ works
Peter Gould, Accompanist
Born in Portsmouth, England, Peter received his musical education at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he studied organ, piano and cello.
In 1974 he was appointed Assistant Organist at Wakefield Cathedral and music teacher at Honley High School. He eventually became Head of Music at the same school in Huddersfield, Yorkshire and also assistant chorus master to the Wakefield Festival Chorus and conductor of the Cawthorne Choral Society. During his time at Wakefield he was involved in many professional recordings and broadcasts with the choir.
In 1983 he became Master of the Music in Derby Cathedral. For many years he was an accompanist to Derby Bach Choir and worked as an examiner for ABRSM touring the UK and Far East over the period 1984 – 2017.
Peter retired from Derby Cathedral in January 2015 after 32 years in post and a total of 40 years of working in English cathedrals. It seems that musicians never retire, and Peter was Interim Director of Music at Romsey Abbey for a term until Easter Day 2019. During the same year Peter played at 113 different churches in the Portsmouth Diocese and raised £3,000 for the Bishop’s Lent Charity.