Musical Directors

Roger Pinsent:
Chorus Director, Sussex Kings of Harmony and
Sussex A Cappella

Following the retirement of Mark Grindall who had been our overall Musical Director for the last six years, we were pleased to announce in July 2022 that Roger Pinsent had joined us as Chorus Director of Sussex Kings of Harmony. We are now delighted to confirm that he's accepted the role of Chorus Director at Sussex A Cappella from January 2023.

The fresh air, and sense of freedom that Cornwall conjures up, is ingrained in Roger. It’s where he spent some 30 years, writing songs, playing music (keyboard), composing (to the moving image) and latterly, conducting choral groups.

His roots are in a musical family where mum was a chorister with many oratorios to her name and Grandpa was both conductor for the Warnham Choral Society, as well as being part of a swing band that entertained across Surrey. Throughout Roger’s childhood, there was always music in the house, ongoing lessons on the piano, clarinet, recorder and of course, singing. Dad enjoyed playing his recorder along with songs on the famous ‘Sing Something Simple’ radio programme, every Sunday night.

Roger found himself at an early age, having a knack for picking up on a musical thread, and an aptitude for easily holding a musical sequence as well as developing it. At the age of 20 he qualified as an Associate of the London College of Music in voice and at age 25 he achieved a BA from Dartington College of Arts. His thirst for learning and applying his abilities led further to an MMus from Kingston University in Composing for Film and TV and recently an MA from University of Surrey in Conducting. His academic interest now is to take this further to a PhD, combining his own experience of conducting choral groups with original research on the subject of alignment between Chorus expectations and choral Directors expectations in achieving optimum performance.

It was his earlier qualifications that enabled him to work with schools and colleges across Cornwall as a member of the Cornwall Music Service and it was when he was asked to conduct the Heamoor School choir that he experienced the thrill of conducting an ensemble, realising the potential for making a difference to sound and vocal impact. He has found that working with singers and crafting their sound makes conducting ensembles the most rewarding musical activity he undertakes. His time in Cornwall working with children and young adults has developed in him, a style of conducting that is fun, easy going and confidence building for ensemble members.

Roger had previously been the Director at 'Surrey Fringe' chorus in Guildford but on moving to the south coast is now finding new ensembles to work with and of course enjoying the wonderful musical and choral culture of Sussex.

Sam Hile: 
 Deputy Chorus Director Sussex Kings of Harmony

Sam has been singing in choirs ever since he was a boy soprano. He learned most of what he knows in Australia, where he was friends with a few individuals who studied music degrees. Sam himself did not study music, but somehow managed to pick up a few things. He has performed popular a cappella, classical chamber music, and musical theatre from time to time in addition to a bit of barbershop harmony. When not singing, Sam works as a research scientist at Sussex University.


Jay Dearling : Assistant Chorus Director Sussex Kings of Harmony

Jay is a man of many talents, and we are fortunate that he is one of our longstanding members, bringing huge experience of Barbershop singing and many achievements to inspire us from having started in Barbershop in the early 70’s. Whilst currently our assistant Director, he has also previously been Baritone Section leader, Music Team leader and from time to time, our ‘night watchman’ MD when changes in Principle MD were made. He arranges music in a cappella styles for both male and female choruses as well as mixed choruses and publishes his own original arrangements which can be found on his web page

Jay joined the Sussex Harmonisers in 2009 following a break from his beloved Barbershop singing due to career and family priorities. His love if Barbershop began when he heard ‘The Hove Harmonisers’ on Radio Brighton and found a couple of the singers as colleagues in his workplace. In 1974 he was introduced to their American MD Dale Gauss, and it wasn’t long before he was performing in a Quartet, ‘Sound Idea’, and competing at Barbershop National Conventions in 1975 and 1976, both times coming fifth in ranking. In 1978 he was in a new Quartet – ‘Class Distinction’ – which was placed second in the finals that year.  

It was during his time with ‘Class Distinction’ that Jay became an ad-hoc arranger for the quartet and an avid collector of albums and tapes from BABS and SPEBSQSA conventions plus choruses and quartets that had made their own recordings. This became an invaluable resource for when he later became the MD for the Hove Harmonisers in the mid-1980’s.   

Jay is also a member of the mixed chorus group ‘Endeavour’ which won the silver medal at BABS SING 2022 convention.   

His outlook is ‘you never stop learning’ and he continues to follow all forms of musical entertainment as a participant, arranger, coach and spectator.

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