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David Salter MA LLM ARCO - Organist & Choirmaster

David Salter David Salter was born in Sheffield and received his first organ lessons from Dr Trevor Slater. Whilst studying at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he sang in the Chapel choir, he was also was an organ pupil of Dr Arthur Wills OBE, the then organist of Ely Cathedral and a noted composer of church and organ music. Whilst working in Norwich, David was organist and choirmaster of St Peter's Church, Cringleford.

He returned to Yorkshire in 1975 and was appointed organist and choirmaster of St John the Baptist, Knaresborough in 1986. 2011 marked the Silver Jubilee of that appointment. During his 25 years at Knaresborough, David has organised several recordings and many tours for the choir including foreign tours to Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Czech Republic, France, Italy and The Netherlands.

He has also commissioned a number of new works for the St John's Choir from composers such as Colin Hand, Arthur Wills, Simon Lindley, Peter Aston and Gordon Lawson.

Apart from his role with the choir of St. John's, David is a trustee of the Harrogate International Festival and Chairman of Leeds Festival Chorus, and has a wide range of other interests ranging from classic cars to football (Barnsley FC). He is also a governor of St Peter's School, York. David is a Partner, and Joint Head of Family Law with Mills & Reeve, based in Leeds.

Mark Hunter - Director of Music

Mark HunterMark Hunter, a native Knaresborian, originally joined the choir of St John’s as a Treble in September 1972, eventually becoming Head Chorister and then singing Tenor. In more recent years he has been extensively involved in choir administration as Librarian, Concert Organiser and Secretary of the Choir Committee, as well as deputising for David Salter and Richard Darke when required. Mark retired from a long career in the Civil Service in December 2013 and now works for York based charity ‘Lollipop’, which organises activities for children with hearing loss and their families throughout North Yorkshire.

In the past Mark has held the post of Musical Director with various ensembles, including Knaresborough Musicals Society, the Rheindahlen Choral Society and Voix Celestes. He also sings with the Harrogate Haydn Choir and in 2012 was a soloist in their performance of the Mozart Requiem. Mark’s musical taste and experience spans a wide variety of genres and he is a firm believer in making musical opportunities available and accessible to all, whilst striving to achieve the highest standards possible. He is a keen composer and arranger of music and in 2014 wrote two arrangements of traditional Christmas carols for the Choir’s appearance in the film ‘Get Santa’ starring Jim Broadbent.

Mark was delighted to be appointed as Director of Music at St John’s in January 2016 and is committed to maintaining the high standards of the choir, whilst also broadening the opportunities available for involvement in the musical life of the church and the local community.

Richard Darke BA MLitt ARCO(CHM) PGCE ARSCM - Director of Music Emeritus

Richard DarkeRichard Darke, a native of Bradford, received his early musical education including organ lessons from his school's Director of Music, Keith Rhodes who was also at that time Organist of Bradford Cathedral. He then went on to study Music at Bristol University taking two degrees in the subject there under Professor Willis Grant.

He returned north and taught Music at various schools in Leeds and continued his organ studies with Francis Jackson, the then Organist and Master of the Choristers of York Minster. He was also Organist and Master of the Choir at St. Edmund's Parish Church, Roundhay, Leeds for 22 years during which time he established a Music Department consisting of a large Men and Boys' Choir and an equally proportioned Girls' Choir. The Choirs gained a good reputation for themselves, not only for the performance of music for the liturgy but also for the annual Good Friday Concerts that featured large scale works such as the Bach Passions and B Minor Mass, Handel's Messiah and others.

After a short time abroad, Richard joined David Salter at St. John's Knaresborough as Director of Music in 1994. One of Richard's main roles at St. John's was the recruitment, vocal training and general musical education of the Boy and Girl Trebles building a reputation for them that went well beyond the bounds of Knaresborough and district.

In 2015 Richard was awarded an Associateship of the Royal School of Church Music for his outstanding contribution to church music. The award was conferred at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral on 3rd October. Richard retired as Director of Music at St. John's in January 2016. The Knaresborough Service by Philip Wilby was commissioned to mark Richard's retirement; it was premiered at Bristol Cathedral by the choir in October 2015 and sung again by the choir at York Minster on 2nd January 2016, both services attended by Philip and his wife Wendy. Richard's 22 years of service to St. John's is also commemorated by a Knaresborough Window, a trompe l'oeil painting installed on the exterior of the church hall featuring Richard and two St. John's choristers. Richard's final service as Director of Music was on 3rd January 2016 at St John's Knaresborough, for which the choir sang Missa Brevis (Palestrina) and Te Deum 'Collegium Regale' (Howells).

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Richard Darke ARSCM
St. Edmundsbury Cathedral October 2015