Heidi Trautmann

561 - Kyrenia Chamber Choir – A closer look


On the occasion of the joint musical venture with the Nicosia Municipality Orchestra in Bellapais with Orchestral Works and Faure’s Requiem on 25 October in Bellapais Abbey


By Heidi Trautmann


Music – the tool to unify people


The October evenings are already dark and cool when the members of the Kyrenia Chamber Choir meet in the Church Hall of St. Andrew for their weekly rehearsal on Wednesdays from 18:00 to 19:30 hrs.

27 members in total, 19 female voices and 8 male voices. They all gather around George Ward, the choral director and Rauf Kasimov, piano accompanist. The rehearsals for the upcoming event on 25 October are becoming more intensive as time progresses. Extra part rehearsals on some days, and for the soloists for their separate training on other days. They are all excited and in high spirits in-spite of the hard training.

When did it all begin, I wanted to know so I approached Bridget Kerr, one of the choir members and also responsible for publicity.


The choir was founded in 2001 by Maggie Woolcock, who brought together some likeminded musical spirits to sing.  I still remember their first concerts in the Crypt of Bellapais Abbey. When Maggie left the Island in 2007, George Ward took over as Musical Director. It is fully appropriate to deviate somewhat from my narrative to shine a light onto his path of life because people often ask ‘what motivates people like him to give their time readily to a cause such as The Kyrenia Chamber Choir.


GEORGE WARD was a keen amateur musician throughout his life receiving voice training from his teens.  He studied Music and Mathematics in Birmingham and there followed a 40 year career in education where being Head of Music in a boys school in Warwickshire meant choirs, bands and school productions.

Involvement in the latter continued for the next 20 years.  Solo work with church choirs, summer recitals in North Norfolk and part singing with small ensembles became the heart of his music making after he shifted his teaching allegiances to mathematics.

Sport was always in competition with music and as the sporting body gave up, the voice remained and more energy went into training a benefice choir in Nottinghamshire.

Since 2007, the choir has grown and a significant work was mooted and this led to the production of the Armed Man in 2009 joined by the Gloucester Choral Society.


(See my review on my website on a) the rehearsal and b) the performance under Cyprus art news Nr. 93 and 93a) http://www.heiditrautmann.com/category.aspx?CID=6677278735 (http://www.heiditrautmann.com/heidi/category.aspx?CID=3355148747)

Four years later he is still training the choir.  On this occasion the decision to perform Faure’s Requiem without outside chorale support came from his belief that Kyrenia Chamber Choir has come of age and is quite able to stand alone and give a grand performance of this timeless work.


Bridget Kerr continues: “He is a deeply committed teacher and leader who will not accept anything but the best from his choir.  He achieves this with a lightness of touch, a sense of humour and a profound understanding of what is required. In return, the choir believe totally in him and respect wholeheartedly his musical decisions. We consider ourselves to be democratic in the choice of music, discussing the pros and cons of such and such a work.  Ultimately, it is extremely important that the choir understands and enjoys the pieces selected in order for them to perform at their very best thus giving the audience a magical musical experience.

How many members are currently in the choir, I asked.

“For the concert we have 27 members, six alto voices (Eileen Kipling, Sue Özcicek, Lee McHugh, Maxene Shailer, Bridget Kerr, Chris Ward) 13 sopranos (Rae Tilley, Jenny Worton-Griffiths, Linda Smith, Svetlana Krupovich, Sandy Oram, Jan d’Oliveira-Parkinson, Sue Cowley, Josephine Black, Christine James, Ann Iverson, Susan Carling, Jane Griffiths, Annie Mockridge), five tenors (Don Attwood, Philip Ephraim, Alan Carling, Fikri Toros, Keith Robertson) and three bass voices (Keith Lloyd, Edward Barrett, Malcolm Davies). But we are always looking for new voices, wherever they come from, as long as they can sing and are prepared to be part of a team.”

A couple of the names are familiar from theatre productions with the former Lambusa Theatre now RBL Theatre.

“The choir has grown into a cohesive team although they all come from different backgrounds and professions; their love of music binds them together. As most organisations, there is a committee led by our Chairman Fikri Toros, who is, in his own right a talented pianist and a well-known business man in the TRNC.  Obviously, George takes care of the music side, Sandy Oram does finances, I do publicity and Malcolm Davies manages to pick up the slack on all the other jobs which continually crop up.”

I heard that Rauf Kasimov has joined the choir as accompanist - I had the opportunity to interview him a couple of years ago and have witnessed his success with our young talents in North Cyprus (see the interview on my website under Cyprus art news No. 169) http://www.heiditrautmann.com/category.aspx?CID=6147237163

“Yes, Rauf is a great asset, very motivating, inspiring and very much part of the team. There are very few choirs who could boast to having a world class pianist as their accompanist. The choir held a fund raiser 3 years ago to buy an electronic digital piano.  Digital meaning that it can be played as a piano or various other keyboards including organ, Rauf is able to make it sound like the grandest of any keyboards.”


On October 25, I understand from your announcement, you will work together for the first time with the Nicosia Municipality Orchestra, I said.

“Yes, it is very exciting for us and we have just had our first rehearsal together. The first part of the concert will be an orchestral programme directed by Oskay Hoca who, incidentally, arranged the score for Faure’s Requiem to be played in the second half of the concert,  (see below) Oskay Hoca, is one of the renowned  musical Hoca family. The orchestra will comprise of 17 strings, flute, oboe, bassoon, trumpet and of course the famous keyboard.


Another pause here to turn a light on Oskay Hoca:

OSKAY HOCA was born in Nicosia, and began his studies at the Ankara State Conservatoire in 1977 with Oboist Çetin Yalçın. He graduated in 1985, two years ahead of his year, with an Honours Degree. He began his career at the TRNC State Symphony Orchestra and Choir in 1987, as an Oboist. He taught solfeggio and oboe at the Anadolu School of Fine Arts, which was founded in the same year, for 7 years. He performed in numerous chamber music concerts, concertos and recitals. In 1995 he played his Composer brother Ali Hoca’s Oboe Concerto with Izmir State Symphony Orchestra. Oskay Hoca has a number of compositions and arrangements too, amongst which there are ones for the choir and orchestra; “Dizeler” ( Lines of Poetry ) comprising of 3 movements for the Orchestra; Children’s Songs; and “Oyun” (Game) for Oboe and Piano. Hoca is not only amongst the founders of the Cypress Classica Folk Ensemble , but is the arranger of the pieces and the oboist of the Ensemble too. Oskay Hoca is currently the Conductor of the Lefkoşa Municipality Orchestra and the Deputy Director of the State Symphony and Choir.


Bridget Kerr continues: “The choir are also immensely proud to be able to sing with two wonderful soloists. Erkan Dağli, who sang with the Choir for the performance of the Armed Man.  I don’t think many people will have forgotten his wonderful and haunting rendition of the ‘Call to Prayer’ and Lynette Elliott Oruç who is joining us for the first time.”


LYNETTE ELLIOTT ORUҪ was born on Westcliff-on-sea. Essex, England. She started singing lessons at the age of 7, and gained valuable experience in local and London based competitive musical festivals. She studied at the North East Essex Technical College, Colchester and then went on to graduate from the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, completing all her ABRSM Grade Examinations with distinction.

After several years of theatre, concert and oratorio work, life took off in a different direction when she joined the Police Service, interspersing her duties as a police officer with performances with the London Metropolitan Police Band, which made a pleasant change from crime fighting.

Another change in career took her to Bilkent University as staff welfare officer, during which time she coached a young school girl, Sirin Soysal, who is now a well-known jazz/cabaret singer in Istanbul.  During her time in Ankara she met and married Yıldıray.

Upon return to the UK in 1997 she undertook a variety of vocal coaching within the musical theatre including running her own studio. Following this, Portsmouth’s South Downs College music department enabled her to prepare young singers for conservatoire auditions and music examinations.  She is now eagerly following the careers of her former students.

Today, she resides for part of the year in Northern Cyprus and relishes the    

opportunity to sing at Bellapais Abbey.  To sing in such an amazing venue with wonderful acoustics is a dream come true.


ERKAN DAĞLI was born in Famagusta and studied music at Gazi University. During this time he received voice and soloist tuition from Professor Suna Çevik and piano tuition from Professor Selmin Tufan. On returning from Ankara he commenced teaching in Famagusta and gave his first recital in1992. He has represented the TRNC in Türksoy Opera Days and been a soloist with the Government Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. He was involved in the bi-communal project, “Long Distance Call”, organised by the Embassy of the Netherlands, as well as participating as a soloist in the Utrecht Music Festival, Holland. He is a founder member of the Music Association of Friends. Erkan is a member of the international festival committee of Famagusta and has been involved in the organisation of various musical events since 2005.


We are grateful to the Kyrenia Chamber Choir for the time they give to the cause, for their enthusiasm and joy in singing and for sharing with us what they have rehearsed in so many hours, because music is the language that everyone understands.

PS: I had the opportunity to witness one of the choir’s rehearsals shortly before the concert; I must say, it sounds absolutely great! Here also photos of the rehearsal evening.


Programme for the Musical Event on 25 October at 19.30 hrs at the Bellapais Abbey

First part: Orchestral Works with the Nicosia Municipality Orchestra

T. ALBINONI      Adagio

J.S. BACH             Orchestral Suite No.1, Ouverture

K. BELEVİ           Vals

P.I. TCHAIKOVSKY  Swan Lake, Neapolitan Dance

A. DVORAK         Humoresque No.7

W.A. MOZART    Symphony No. 25 in G minor, Allegro con brio


Second part: Kyrenia Chamber Choir and Nicosia Municipal Orchestra

Faure's REQUIEM in D minor opus 48


Minimum donation TL 30 for the benefit of SOS Children Village

Further details and tickets by email: jane5254@hotmail.com

The digital keyboard at the St.Andrew Church
The digital keyboard at the St.Andrew Church

George Ward the choral director of the Kyrenia Chamber Choir
George Ward the choral director of the Kyrenia Chamber Choir

Rauf Kasimov and George Ward in full action on the rehearsal evening
Rauf Kasimov and George Ward in full action on the rehearsal evening

The Notes
The Notes

The Kyrenia Chamber Choir in good spirits
The Kyrenia Chamber Choir in good spirits

George Ward and Rauf Kasimov, a little exhausted but happy
George Ward and Rauf Kasimov, a little exhausted but happy

The Nicosia Municipality Orchestra
The Nicosia Municipality Orchestra

This is what they will look like on the concert, here the sopranos
This is what they will look like on the concert, here the sopranos

This is what the male voices will look like on the evening of the concert
This is what the male voices will look like on the evening of the concert

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