Following the retirement of hugely missed Stephen Berry in late 2022 and choir accompanist since 2007 it has been a long and difficult effort by the choir to find a comparable replacement . Tribute must not only be paid to Stephen for his dedicated service but also to John Nicholson who has done a terrific job in holding the fort in difficult circumstances since Stephen’s retirement.
However, at the end of the year the choir was incredibly fortunate that Olivia Dance, daughter of chorister Nick Dance who lives locally in Caldicot, accepted the offer to become the principal accompanist for the choir. Together with her father she has thoroughly enjoyed joining in with the choir’s activities since Nick first joined in January 2023.
Olivia was born in Oxford and began piano lessons at the age of eight. Performing in festivals, competitions, and concerts during her childhood inspired her to pursue music.
After completing her school studies at Henley Sixth Form College, Olivia was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Professor Stephen Savage.
Whilst at the college, she won the Bessie Cronshaw/Frost Brownson Song Cycle Pianist Prize and was awarded the Clifford Hartley Prize for showing great commitment to her studies.
Olivia was fortunate to be mentored by James Bailleau, Julian Jacobson, Kathryn Stott, Leslie Howard, Phillipe Cassard and Stephen Hough. Olivia gained a B. Mus. 1st Class Honours and in 2020, she graduated from the RNCM with a Master’s degree in Music. In the same year, she returned to her family home in Wales where she currently teaches a broad array of piano students, works with St Briavels school choir, accompanies Serenata Ladies Choir, and performs for care home residents and people living with dementia as part of outreach projects run by Wye Valley Music in Monmouthshire.
She enjoys performing a wide range of musical styles, has an ongoing love of art song, and indulges in jazz when she can. Some performance highlights include an appearance at the Wigmore Hall in London performing Mark-Anthony Turnage’s ‘Two Elegies Framing a Shout’, a concert of Norwegian song in Bergen, Norway, and a performance at Gloucester Cathedral in conjunction with the Three Choirs Festival.
Olivia has played for the choir on a number of occasions in 2023 and to a very warm, welcoming reception was thrilled to accompany the choir as a full time member of the team of Musical Director Sian Hatton, Assistant Musical Director Shirley Anne James and fellow accompanist John Nicholson at its first rehearsal of 2024 on January 8th. Olivia, together with the choristers are all looking forward to a long lasting and happy association with Caldicot Male Voice Choir.