John Cole

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Born in Taunton, John became involved in music in the West Country in 1960, enjoying the musical directorships of Wellington and Taunton Operatic Societies and the Somerset Summer Chorus. He was musical director of Taunton Choral Society, a post he held for fifteen years, giving fifty memorable concerts. He is a Tauntonian through and through, having been born and educated in the town and having spent 40 years working as a very busy family doctor in nearby Wellington.

However, it is in the county’s musical life that he is more well known nowadays, having been extremely active since about 1962. In the opera world he has performed more than 50 major roles and musically directed about 30 shows or operas.

He has been a choir master from his school days, but a few years after returning to the West Country to work he formed and ran the Somerset Summer Chorus which for 21 years presented major choral works with up to 160 singers every summer. Thereafter he was appointed to Taunton Choral Society a post he held for 50 happy concerts in 15 years. At one time he was the musical director of 4 choirs. However he confesses that he was 50 before he acquired formal professional music qualifications, feeling the need to legitimise his position.

Now, he contents himself with the Honorary Musical Directorships of his much loved chamber choir Amici, and of Orchestra West, his attempt to bring truly professional symphony orchestral playing to Taunton and the West Country. This brave, even foolhardy venture, involves a large network of players, many from great national orchestras, who have become friends over the years. Despite the lack of a truly suitable concert hall and a paucity of public funding it has survived so far, and is beginning to attract a most enthusiastic audience. John considers himself a very fortunate man in his friends and colleagues.