Cantamus People

Pamela Cook (1937 - 2013): Founder of Cantamus Girls Choir

Pamela Cook

Pamela Cook is regarded as a leading authority on vocal and choral techniques and was much in demand for solo and choral workshops at home and abroad.  Many choral directors from around the world have visited Mansfield to observe the methods used in training Cantamus. 

She lectured in physiology, use, care and technique of the voice for major conferences internationally. She served on the jury of international competitions including the BBC Choir of the Year and had been a commentator for The Cardiff Singer of The World for BBC Radio 3.  Pamela published articles for many leading journals and her private studio included professional opera singers from all over the UK and abroad, professional choral singers and those girls from Cantamus who had chosen to pursue a career in singing.

Pamela taught in Universities and Colleges of Education, including the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. She was formerly the Senior Lecturer in Voice at the Birmingham Conservatoire. 

In 1984 she was awarded the MBE, was made an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 1990 and an Honorary Fellow of Birmingham Conservatoire in 1993. Later that same year International Rotary conferred on her the Paul Harris Fellowship. In 2003 she was made a Vice-President of the Association of British Choral Directors, alongside John Rutter and Brian Kay. 

In 2008 she was awarded the title “Ambassador for the Arts in the Midlands” and recently the Royal Academy of Music made Pamela a Fellow of the Royal Academy, citing her invaluable contribution to choral and solo singing. This honour is held by only 300 fellows throughout the world and Pamela joins such luminaries as Sir Simon Rattle.

In July, this year (2013) Nottingham University was to confer an honorary doctorate to Pamela.  This was a well deserved award, recognising her tremendous gift to music, and in particular to the art of singing/choral singing over the last 45 years. This was a well deserved title that they could bestow to her.

Ann Irons - Director

Ann IronsAnn Irons read her degree at Bath where Singing was one of her main subjects. She returned to Mansfield to become Head of Music at High Oakham School, where she led a lively Music Department, directing prize-winning choirs and mounting numerous staged works.

She then went on to St John's C of E Primary School and in 1996 her school choir was selected to be the Mansfield Music and Drama Festival representative at a Festival of Festivals held at Warwick University. From there  she took up a post at the Joseph Whitaker Comprehensive School, Rainworth, running two choirs and being involved with the school orchestra as well as ambitious musical theatre performances.

Ann is now teaching at Nottingham High School for Girls, has a flourishing private teaching practice and sings in concerts and oratorios.

Ann is a regular conductor for the National Youth Choir of Great Britain (girls aged 11-16 years) and recently conducted them in the Choir’s 25th Anniversary concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall.

Elaine Guy - Assistant Director

Elaine GuyElaine Guy was a member of Cantamus until 1982. She began teaching Cantamus girls in 1981 and gained her LRAM singing teaching award in 1983. She has sung as a contralto soloist.

Elaine has made a career of sharing her love of music and singing with young people in the local area. As well as her involvement with Cantamus she teaches music at Saville House School in Mansfield Woodhouse and is Director of two choirs at Ashfield School, Kirkby in Ashfield. The junior choir is for years 7 and 8 and senior choir covers year 9 to post 16. The choirs give concerts in the local area and have undertaken concert tours on both the continent and in the UK.

Elaine is also the vocal coach for Ashfield School productions and coaches GCSE and A level Music and Performing Arts students. She is the organist and music group leader at St. John’s Methodist Church, Sutton in Ashfield.

Philip Robinson - Accompanist

Philip Robinson - AccompanistPhilip Robinson was born into a family in which music was a part of everyday life. He began his musical education at Durham Cathedral where he was Head Chorister.  Later at the Royal College of Music he studied organ and piano. He is now a freelance musician, a teacher, accompanist and director.

Philip has been accompanist to the Nottingham Bach Society and the Nottingham Harmonic Society and is currently the accompanist at Trent University, where he also teaches piano. In 2006 Philip took up the post of accompanist to Cantamus, with whom he has travelled to Belgium, Spain, China and Malaysia.  He is the musical director and founder of the vocal ensemble Lirica, based in Nottingham.  Philip is also the Duo 'The Parnell Phil' with saxophonist Alistair Parnell whose theme is the reinvention of the classics. 

He is an examiner for the Associated Board for whom he has worked throughout the UK, as well as Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and Malaysia.  Philip also visits choral societies, giving multimedia presentations on the work that they are performing. 

Philips deepest passion is accompanying singers

Sheila Haslam - Secretary

Sheila HaslamSheila Haslam is a qualified teacher and was a Lecturer in Business Studies and Management at West Nottinghamshire College of Further Education for 22 years before taking early retirement.

She is also a qualified teacher of Speech and Drama, having been awarded a Gold Medal in Public Speaking with Distinction from the London Associated Music and Drama Board in 1986.  From 1993 to 2011 she co-ordinated the Mansfield Music & Drama Festival.

A trained singer, Sheila has a always had a passionate interest in the music, and when Cantamus was first founded, volunteered to be the Secretary, a position she still holds.

Both her daughters were early members of the choir.

For all enquiries, contact Sheila by:


telephone 01623 627764

In addition to the people who appear on this page, Cantamus Girls Choir show their appreciation and recognition to past members of staff who have been involved in the Choir. 

Updated 12 January 2014
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