Solent City Chorus, Sing in Portsmouth - Profiles

Chorus Member Profiles

Vincent Iyengar  Bass & Musical Director

Vincent is Solent City’s ‘Mr Music’, a man with an amazing musical pedigree. His first degree was in the bizarre-sounding combination of maths and music at London University, but since then the maths has taken a back seat. After training as a music teacher at Exeter University he obtained an LTCL music diploma from Trinity College London and then a masters degree from Southampton.

He’s a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the Association of British Choral Directors, Sing for Pleasure, the Dalcroze Society UK, the British Kodaly Academy and Music Mark. He’s conducted choirs for Sing for Pleasure and on many formal occasions, and still finds time to play the piano and the viola freelance for various orchestras in the region. Early in his career Vincent was Director of Music at the British Embassy School in Athens, and more recently was Music Director at schools in Farnham and Woking.

He joined Solent City in January 2014 in response to an advert for chorus director, and though he had no background in barbershop says he’s already come to love it for its fun, vitality and wonderful harmonies.

Away from music, Vincent loves mountain trekking, philosophical debate, and learning foreign and ancient languages.

Richard Searle  Baritone & Chorus Manager

Originally from Surrey, Richard worked as a sales engineer for most of his career. But he’s always been a natural performer: he's been involved in amateur dramatics for 40 years, often in musicals, and was also with a travelling music hall company for a time. Sadly, he says, he didn’t discover barbershop until six years ago, when he saw a recruitment sticker for Solent City in the rear window of a pal’s car. A good advertising method, he reckons. He still describes himself as an ‘apprentice baritone’, though he’s risen to the dizzy heights of chorus manager in the meantime.

Away from singing, he remains a keen golfer, and also does local volunteer work, though he’s begun to notice that most of the people needing help are younger than him.

Richard is proud to have two daughters and four grandchildren, but admits to have been divorced twice.
Rather cryptically, he says that he’s still not ignored by the ladies – even though he can still never work out what is going through a woman’s mind!

Mike Cook  Bass & Chairman

Mike claims he was an angelic soloist at Sunday School concerts, but it took more than 40 years before he plucked up courage to try singing in public again. His first experience of barbershop was with Capital Chorus in West London, where he won the club’s ‘Barbershopper of the Year’ award twice, and captained a chorus team on the BBC quiz show ‘Eggheads’.

He joined Solent City in 2013, after having retired and moved to Chichester. During his work career, Mike lived for a time in both Libya and Zambia, and travelled the world as an economist in the metals industry.

His main hobby has always been sports: he played cricket for Notts at schoolboy level, and still plays team tennis regularly for his club. Sadly, he confesses, he’s a lifelong Mansfield Town supporter, a fate which has caused him untold misery over the years.
Away from sport, he’s also done some amateur dramatics, and reckons his main claim to fame is playing the part of a Nigerian schoolmaster in a play on Radio Zambia (don’t ask, it’s a long story).

His wife Jill, an author and former HR Director, also sings barbershop, and is President of the Spinnaker Chorus.

Andy Wood  Lead

Meet Solent City’s very own “action man”. Andy lists parachuting, running and scuba diving among his hobbies in the past, and has also done a lot of trekking (including four trips to Nepal and one in Alaska). He likes motorbikes and is the proud owner of a BMW R1200RT, but remains an active cyclist, and cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End for charity in 2015. Andy runs his own company providing health and safety services.
He was in the Territorial Army for 10 years and for the latter part a Sergeant in the recruit training wing, but resigned to give more time to daughter Louise and disabled son Adam.

After a while he felt that he was missing out on an activity, so became a member of a local Lions Group for some years and then on to become a Duke of Edinburgh youth group leader. Looking for a more “sedate” hobby, Andy joined SCC in 2011.

He says he sang in the school choir many years ago and apparently still sounds great in the shower (yes Andy, like so many of us).
Wife Gillian also sings barbershop, with the Spinnaker Chorus.

Ian Ayres  Lead, Assistant Section Leader & Pulblic Relations Officer

Ian laments that his musical talents suffered an early setback at school. A kindly music teacher commented that “…his fingers are just too small to play the recorder”, a diplomatic way of saying that he was “complete rubbish” according to Ian. It took many years for him to recover from the trauma, but he says joining Solent City has given him a huge buzz, as well as laughs and friendship.

The musical rejection led to a largely well-spent youth and beyond playing sport, including a few games of minor counties cricket for Norfolk and regional level hockey. He’s run a couple of marathons and still pretends to jog, though the fact that the postman often overtakes him is a concern. Ian jokes that in the absence of a coherent career plan he moved from Cornwall to Norwich, where he began a 30-year career working in housing, mainly in housing associations, before moving to Portsmouth in 1983, where he met his wife ,Geraldine. In 2004, he says a mid-life crisis prompted him to do an M.Sc. in Environmental Management and Protection, and he’s worked in energy efficiency and green space improvement charities ever since.

Chris Tweed  Bass & Assistant Musical Director

Chris is originally from Portsmouth, but having spent 32 years in the Royal Navy, he reckons that any south coast port has been home at some time or another.

Married to Karen, with three children and four grandchildren, Chris now works for BAE Systems in Portsmouth Dockyard. His introduction to barbershop singing was at the Royal Military College at Shrivenham, where he says he joined a chorus in preference to the other adventurous activities on offer, all of which seemed life threatening in one way or another.
It was a baptism of fire, as there were just eight singers and he became the only baritone. Life as a bari wasn’t easy, as Chris explains: “Once, whilst learning the bari part for a new song on a minibus journey, the person behind me tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I was OK because he thought I was having a stroke. I switched to bass and now feel much better.”

Away from barbershop, Chris plays the guitar in a style which he describes as ‘rustic folk’. He is entirely self-taught, and is amazed that people seem to appreciate the noise he occasionally inflicts on them.