Hertford Choral Society is delighted to announce that Manvinder Rattan has been appointed as its new musical director.

An inspiring conductor and MD, Manvinder has extensive experience rehearsing and performing across genres and repertoires, and is excited about working with the Hertford community.

Alongside his CEO and Head of Conductor Training roles at Sing for Pleasure and his CEO role at The Voices Foundation, Manvinder has been Musical Director of the John Lewis Partnership Music Society since 1995, with responsibility for its 15 choirs and an orchestra.  He was also a judge for BBC2’s The Choir with Gareth Malone and a regular adjudicator for the BBC’s Choir of the Year as well as choral festivals around the country. In addition, he is Musical Director of Serafine Chamber Choir and Sinfonia with whom he released the premiere recording of Oliver Tarney’s Magnificat.  In 2016, Manvinder was awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, York St John University, for his services to music and conducting. In 2021, he received a Fellowship of the Royal School of Music in choral directing.

Speaking of this appointment, HCS Chair Trish Galloway said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that Manvinder is joining us for this next chapter in the choir’s history. He will bring great perspectives, new insights and foster those important traditions of fun and enthusiasm that are hallmarks of HCS.’

Speaking of his new HCS role, Manvinder said: ‘I am immensely delighted and proud to have been appointed to this role. The choir has an impressive heritage and my predecessor is going to be a tough act to follow but I can’t wait to get started and do my best to inspire and lead the best performances I possibly can.’

Manvinder can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

HCS rehearsals for a performance of Haydn’s The Creation will begin on Tuesday 7th September 2021.

Further information about the choir can be found at www.hertfordchoral.org.uk.  New joiners are very welcome; no audition is required.

Charlie Penn-Jones graduated from the University of Birmingham where he studied piano with Joseph Middleton. He maintains a busy freelance timetable as a versatile young musician specialising in work with choirs of all ages and abilities. Charlie is a Britten-Pears Young Artist, previously joining the music staff for Grimes on the Beach in Aldeburgh, and performing on organ conducted by Semyon Bychkov. On stage, he has appeared in Orpheus, an original piece devised and performed by Little Bulb Theatre, and as Keyboard 1 in an exciting new orchestration of Threepenny Opera for the renowned Salzburg festival. He has even made a brief appearance on the BBC’s The One Show, teaching Lee Mack some basic piano vamping!

Alongside his work with Hertford Choral Society, Charlie is the Music Director of Phoenix Chorale, Cambridge - an auditioned SATB choir for young singers, and Assistant Director of Cantate Youth Choir. He is also accompanist to Ely Consort and teaches piano at the Stephen Perse Foundation, where he is also in charge of several boys choirs. He currently works for the Voices Foundation as a choral specialist, and can regularly be found playing various keyboard instruments with the orchestra of Sinfonia Viva.

Whilst living in Birmingham Charlie was Director of Stone Choral Society and a visiting tutor at the Birmingham School of Acting. He is in demand as a recital accompanist and has experience working with students at both the University of Birmingham and the Birmingham Conservatoire. He has also worked with a number of renowned professional soloists including Sir Willard White and Wendy Dawn Thompson. Charlie’s abilities and willingness to tackle any style of music have led him to work with many prestigious musical organisations including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Armonico Consort and the national singing programme, Sing Up! He has also assisted in the running of the Choral and Choral Conducting courses at the international Sherborne Summer School of Music and regularly directs very popular singing courses for the Cambridge Holiday Orchestra Association.

Charlie can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sue Graham Smith has worked for many years as a freelance piano accompanist & choir/vocal coach.

For several years Sue was Music Director/Pianist to Opera Brava and she has been Music Director to two Anglican churches. She’s also been Assistant Music Director/Pianist to Cantate Youth Choir, (Sainsbury Children’s Choir of the Year 2000) with whom she enjoyed playing for many concerts, tours & recordings.

Sue has been an Examiner for the Associated Board, coached opera at Trinity College of Music, and worked with BBC Symphony Chorus, English National Opera, D’Oyly Carte, Kent Opera, and many other choirs & opera companies. She has played on national TV & radio, including Songs of Praise, Gloria Hunniford Show, and Maestro (for celebrity conductors). She has also been Music Director of QC Chamber Choir, and for many years was Pianist to both Hertfordshire Chorus and Harlow Chorus.

More recently Sue worked with Alzheimer’s Society as a ‘Singing for the Brain’ Leader; she now runs two singing groups for people with dementia through new charity ‘Herts Musical Memories’. Sue works in both Hertfordshire and West Sussex as a freelance accompanist, and is currently Pianist to both Hertford and Arun Choral Societies.

The major strands of Derek's career have been choral conducting and singing. He conducts choirs both large and small and has been Musical Director of the Hertford Choral Society for many years. He has been founder and director of chamber choirs in Harlow, Hertford and St Albans. He has directed four performances at the Royal Albert Hall, London with well over 850 performers in Britten's War Requiem, Mahler's Eighth Symphony, Verdi's Requiem and Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts. These three concerts have raised around £120,000 for a charity working for the blind.

Derek has also directed a number of 'Bring It and Sing It' performances, many of which have been in support of charities. He was invited to direct a Royal Gala concert for Princess Alexandra as part of a fund-raising programme for the local Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow.

With the Hertford Choral Society, Derek has worked with a number of distinguished British orchestras and soloists. He has also been responsible for several initiatives with the Hertford Choral Society with a particular focus on developing young musicians (a student conductor scheme in association with several London conservatoires), improving the training of singers (an award-winning coaching scheme) and encouraging young people to gain the 'large choir' experience (Bursaries at local schools).

Derek's musical career began as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral. He won a scholarship to Bradfield College and then an Organ Scholarship to St Edmund Hall, Oxford University. From there he gained a music degree and his FRCO (Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists). For many years after that, Derek was the main singer (and bass rebec player) with the St George's Canozona - a small group that specialised in Medieval and early Renaissance music.  With that group, Derek recorded for many of the major companies in the UK as well as giving recitals in and around London including at the Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room on the South Bank.

Derek can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.