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Our Musical Director

We’re so lucky to have Ian Riley as our Musical Director.  He joined us in September 2023, and we knew from the start that he was just who we had been looking for to lead our choir.


Ian brings a wealth of experience with him. He graduated from Leeds College of music where he studied Jazz piano. He worked on board a cruise liner in the Mediterranean and then had a long stint playing at Alton Towers, both in show bands and pop bands in small venues and to crowds of thirty-five thousand people. Alongside this came the delights of Pantomime at the Theatre Royal in Stoke on Trent where Ian played keyboards and was then Musical Director.


The Moscow State Circus was the next venture with Ian acting both as musical director and arranger, this included work on Blue Peter Specials, the Big Breakfast and The Royal Variety Show. Work since has included a European tour with ‘Twentieth Century Musicals’.

Ian has also worked on many non-professional musicals, and has been Musical Director for: - Linda Nolan, Jimmy Tarbuck, and Kenny Lynch.


In recent years teaching has become a large part of Ian’s musical life, working in schools teaching music technology and piano as well as directing and accompanying choirs. Ian also directs Roade Community Orchestra. Ian is an arranger for ChoirCommunity and conducts and accompanies choirs.

He was delighted to be appointed the Musical Director for Hart and Soul Community Choir.

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History of Hart and Soul

Hart and Soul Community Choir was founded in Hartwell in 2011 by Alex Preston and Craig McLeish. Alex wanted somewhere to sing and Craig already had a vast experience of directing choirs, so he agreed to form one in Hartwell.

Craig directed Hart and Soul for over five years, before standing down in 2017, to concentrate on other facets of his career, including his role as Musical Director for Young Voices.

Sadness when Craig left turned to relieved joy when Katie Teage accepted the position to lead us. Like Craig, Katie brought with her a wealth of musical experience not only in leading choirs, but in arranging, composing and promoting the joy of singing. With Katie, the choir continued to grow in confidence, and our membership also grew.


In January 2019, Hart and Soul Choir moved our practice venue to Hanslope Village Hall, in Hartwell’s neighbouring village. As a third of members were already from Hanslope we immediately felt at home, and have gained several more singers from the village.

During 2019, Katie took the decision to leave us to be nearer to home and spend more time with her family. After a recruitment drive we were lucky to find Anna Lusty as our replacement choir leader. In Autumn 2019, Anna, an accomplished and enthusiastic young lady with a vast amount of experience with community choirs, joined us. Anna brought with her the same energy and gentle encouragement that allowed us all to feel we could achieve anything.

Anna also saw us through the pandemic, keeping our spirits up and leading us singing over zoom calls and in gardens. The choir were honoured to sing at Anna’s wedding in 2022.

In 2023, Anna relocated to the Netherlands. We were thrilled when Ian Riley then accepted the position of Musical Director.

Through the choir many friendships have been made, and social groups have formed. We often have trips to the theatre or music events, and we hope we’ve spread more joy through our  regular  performances  at  village concerts, the Community Choirs Festival, and not to mention the BBC’s ‘Songs of Praise’. We’re proud to be raising money for local charities and hope to continue singing together for many years to come.

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