THE 80-strong Skipton choir, formerly known as Rock Up and Sing, has a new name – and a new musical director.

David Weale will lead the long-established group into a new era, after nearly a decade of being part of the now disbanded, Harrogate-based Rock Up and Sing family of choirs.

David, who has sung with and directed choirs both in the UK and France, and also directed two major musicals, moved to Skipton four years ago and now lives in Hellifield.

“I’m really looking forward to working with The Skipton Choir and helping it forge its own identity as a stand-alone entity,” he said.

“For me it offers the best of both worlds – I take over an established and very disciplined group of enthusiastic singers who are also committed to what has become a very strong community of people. And I also have the challenge of exploring new horizons with them. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us all.”

He added: “Music has always been a big part of my life – both my parents taught it in Ipswich where I grew up – and I learned to play the recorder, piano and clarinet at an early age. I toured Europe with a youth orchestra as a teenager and went on to develop a real passion for musical theatre. At university in Lancaster I got my first opportunity to be musical director for a gospel choir and at 21 directed a musical, West Side Story, which had a cast of 40 and a band of 18. It was quite a challenge.”

During a year in France, David sang with three different choirs and after moving to Skipton in 2015 became musical director for the Skipton Musical Theatre Company’s production of Sister Act. He has since directed Anything Goes for the Sutton Green Hut musical society.

Carol Squire, choir chairman, said: “We are exceptionally lucky to have secured the services of David and everyone in the choir is really looking forward to working with him. We’re also delighted that in forming our own choir we have retained the vast majority of members from the Skipton Rock Up and Sing choir – after nine years of singing together everyone was keen to keep the group intact.”

The new choir makes its debut at the Embsay with Eastby Village Institute for The Rotary Club of Skipton Craven Great Get Together Summer Tea Party on Sunday (June 23).

Further concerts are also lined up for Sunday September 29 with an afternoon concert at Fallfest in Glusburn; Saturday November 16 at Christ Church, Skipton (Music for Martin House); and Thursday December 5 (Light Up A Life with Martin House) at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton.