Resident Choir Accompanist – Alison Thomas
Alison grew up in Wrexham, North Wales and lived outside the town of Chirk on the Welsh border, not far from Llangollen. She attended St. David’s High School in Wrexham, renowned for its’ excellent music department, and took part in many concerts and competitions in prestigious venues around the UK . She learned piano from the age of 5 and passed Grade 8 at the age of 14, under the tutelage of local concert pianist Ruth Christine Parkinson. In school she also learned violin, viola, guitar and percussion. Her father sang with the Rhos Orpheus Male Voice Choir and Alison went along to many concerts and rehearsals. She got to perform at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod many times and hosted foreign competitors at her house.
Alison successfully applied for, and went to Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester for her sixth form studies, studying percussion and piano. She went on to study orchestral percussion, including xylophone and marimba, at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London between 1991-1995. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree with Honours and spent the next four years working in London.
On her return to Wales, having married an Abergavenny percussionist and settling in Cwmbran, she secured a job as a Specialist Peripatetic Music Tutor for Gwent Music Support Services. She travelled around Gwent schools for seven years teaching piano, keyboard, drums and class percussion to a range of 3-18 year olds.
In 2007 she gained her PGCE Primary at Caerleon Campus, Newport University and started teaching Primary age children in the classroom.
Alison has been a classroom teacher and Music Co-ordinator at Risca Primary since 2012, where she has built up her own choir of Junior children, regularly performing in and around the local community. They have performed with Risca Male Choir on a number of occasions and it was through this that she was invited to accompany Risca Male Choir in January 2017, after the retirement of their long term accompanist.
Prior to this, Alison had been the accompanist for the Garndiffaith based ‘Apollo Singers’ for four years, and regularly helped out the Garndiffaith Gleemen and Pontypool Male Voice Choirs.
Although she leads a busy life, teaching full time and with two children of her own, Alison enjoys the challenge of preparing a wide range of repertoire for the busy schedule of Risca Male Choir. She also plays percussion for Welsh brass bands and has played xylophone solos with Abergavenny and Usk Brass Bands, including being televised during the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny in 2016.