A KEIGHLEY choir celebrating the its 20th anniversary has embarked on a search for a new musical director and accompanist.

Airedale Male Voice Choir has to fill the two key positions due to the retirement of that would lead this May of founder John Smith and well-known local pianist Ken Brook.

Their replacements will lead the choirmen in an eclectic repertoire ranging from choral works to popular hits, from Schubert to Sondheim, from Mozart to McCartney.

Choir members this week expressed their gratitude to John and Ken for the central role they have played in making the choir a success across Keighley and the wider area.

The choir rehearses at Trinity Church in Fell Lane, Keighley, and performs at least once a month.

Choir spokesman Roy Spink said: “Ever since March 1997 when John Smith and Ken Brook formed the Airedale Male Voice Choir, the priority has always been to raise money for local charities and good causes.

“Over the years the 40-strong choir has raised over £120,000 thrilling audiences across all three Yorkshire Ridings with their high quality music and songs.

“These have ranged from Elvis Presley’s rousing American Trilogy to Schubert’s beautiful, sensitive and tender Sanctus.

Airedale Male Voice Choir was set up jointly by John and Ken and they retained a maximum membership of 50 singers to create a sound praised as beautiful yet resonant, with musicality and tender tonal qualities.

They have 180 pieces of music in their repertoire.

John Smith comes from a family where music was a ‘way of life’, as a young boy hearing choral greats like the Messiah, Elijah and Creation at Wesley Place Church, Ingrow, where his father was organist and choirmaster.

He began singing himself in the choir at Steeton Methodist Church, before joining with brothers Frank and David to form a Sextet singing performing local concerts, mostly unaccompanied.

At 17 John joined the Keighley Vocal Union under the baton of his father, singing at many festivals from the local Keighley Summerscales to the famous Llangollen Eisteddford.

Ken Brook was was born in Leeds and grew up in Huddersfield, which has a long established choral tradition, and was soon appointed to the position of honorary pianist at Dalton St. Paul’s Methodist Sunday School.

In his teens he played for a local teacher of singing, and has since played for a huge number of male, female and children’s choirs, as well as for amateur operatic companies and soloists.

Anyone interested in becoming musical director or accompanist for the Airedale Male Voice Choir should email Mike Hughes at familyhugs@btinternet.com.