Martin Bates, B.Mus., G.R.S.M., A.R.M.C.M., has been Conductor and Musical Director of the Heart of England Singers since 1989.
Martin was born in Birmingham and has always been involved in making music both as an accompanist and composer, for a wide variety of performances around the Midlands area. Martin is married to Susan who is the regular soprano soloist for the Heart of England Singers. He has taught for 34 years at three Birmingham schools during his career: Queensbridge School in Kings Heath, Moseley School and John Willmott School in Sutton Coldfield.
Martin studied piano with Constance Warren at Birmingham Conservatoire before going to Manchester where he studied with Hedwig Stein at the Royal Northern College of Music. After completing his music degree course at Manchester University he returned to Birmingham where he became repetiteur for nationally acclaimed choir Ex Cathedra.
Martin has written many pieces of music which vary from church music, solo songs, to piano pieces, compositions for strings and wind, to those accompanied by rock band and orchestra.
His rock musical “King”, based on the life of Martin Luther King, first written with Keith Dennis at Queensbridge School with Devon Brown in the title role, went on to be performed at Birmingham Old Repertory Theatre and then subsequently on national television. It was recently produced again at the MAC in Cannon Hill Park conducted by Paul Herbert.
“Kaladinka” and “Mrs Malone” were written in response to commissions from Sandvik Vocals Project and Sutton Coldfield Music Festival respectively and are specifically written with young voices in mind. “Kaladinka” was first performed at Birmingham Town Hall with the composer himself conducting.
Commissions have also come from local singers and choral societies, notably the City of Leicester Singers, Harborne Festival and Elmdon Choral Society. Many of these pieces have been subsequently performed by the Heart of England Singers.
For Ex Cathedra he has written several pieces of choral music including “Three Songs for Christmas” now published by Banks Music of York. “This Starry Stranger” was commissioned by Jeffrey Skidmore and Ex Cathedra for an educational project and culminated in a Symphony Hall performance where the Sandvik Choir of young voices was joined by Ex Cathedra, Birmingham Schools Chorale, tenor soloist Paul Agnew, the Birmingham Ensemble and the Birmingham Dance Theatre. It is a companion piece to go with Benjamin Britten’s Christmas cantata St Nicolas.
It was a great pleasure to write “A Day in Town” for Georgina Bloomfield early in 2017. Georgina is a very fine young violinist from Buxton who has regularly performed at “Touch of Basil” concerts since receiving financial assistance from the ‘Philip Bates Trust’. It was given its first performance by her at the concert in Bishop Vesey’s School in September 2017. Georgina has recently retired as leader of National Children’s Orchestra.
Most recently in 2017, Martin has rewritten “Blessed are the Peacemakers” originally commissioned by Birmingham City Council in its bid to host the 1992 Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was performed widely by Ex Cathedra during the 2017 Christmas period.