Our singers

Alison West
I am a part-time ensemble and choral singer, choral director and composer. I live and work in the beautiful, if wet, South Pennines. I have performed regularly for many years, originally with an all-female rock band down in Oxford, and more recently both with the Hepton Singers, a chamber choir based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, & until 2008 with the vocal ensemble Cantorelli, of which I was a founder member. As well as enjoying myself more than I have any right to by composing choral music, I also play and teach piano, have an emerging passion for recorder-playing, and sing with Borealis, a professional chamber choir based in the north of England
Fiona Chen
I was born in Sabah, Malaysia. From an early age, I have realised singing is something very dear to my heart. After completing my secondary school education in Malaysia, I came to England to study at Trinity College of Music, London. I enjoy singing a variety of vocal music from operatic aria, art songs, Chinese folksongs to intimate a cappella music. I aim to be a versatile and adaptable singer. I have performed in Raymond Gubbay’s ‘Opera in the Round’ productions at the Royal Albert Hall and big arenas in various UK cities, made appearance with various choirs singing oratorio solos. I have also performed for the Chinese Consulate General of Manchester on several occasions. I enjoy the ‘journey’ of singing Alison’s imaginative music-from finding my way through a maze of ‘unpredictable’ musical notes and rhythms to creating layers of coherent sound, as well as expressing emotions with my fellow singers. It is great that everyone shares the same goals and interests. Currently, in addition to Alyssium, I am a member of The Savile Singers (a SATB chamber choir) which based in Savile Park, Halifax. I also direct the Leeds Chinese Community School Choir.
Catherine Roberts
My musical journey started with formal piano lessons aged 4. My ongoing passion for the instrument has enabled collaborations with all types of singers, amateur theatre groups, concerts, schools, even ballet school accompanying, throughout my life. A love of choral singing began with my school choir where I enjoyed many years of performing at school and in Chester Cathedral. Jump forward 30 years after a career in Textiles, being an accidental Landlord, raising a family and re-training to become a piano teacher in Hebden Bridge, I yearned to sing again and joined the Pennine Spring Festival based in Heptonstall for an intense week of singing and performing. This inspired me to apply to join the Hepton Singers, thankfully they took me on and I have never looked back. In addition to this experience, I was delighted to join Alyssium in 2019 and feel it is a privilege to be singing challenging, original and beautiful repertoire with a small ensemble of dynamic and talented women. 
Helen Plaice
Music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I was fortunate to go to a school where music took a significant role and where musical aspirations were high. There, I sang in choirs and learnt the flute, viola and piano, winning the annual music festival piano duet competition with a very simple trio that we “managed to pull off with panache” on the night. Many good friends have been made through music, both near and far, and it now brings real enjoyment, relaxation and sanity in a busy life as a consultant senior leader supporting secondary schools in challenging circumstances. I sing tenor with Hepton Singers and joined Alyssium in the spring of 2019. I am thoroughly enjoying the new challenge of performing such a varied repertoire with a small group of talented and enthusiastic singers.
Melissa Wells
I have only recently moved to Todmorden but have worked at the local high school, in many teaching and leadership roles, for the past 25 years. In my youth, I sang in all 3 divisions of Oldham Girls’ Choir, as well as in my church choir. As a young adult, I spent many years in musical theatre and performed as one of the vocalists in a jazz/funk band, playing covers and original works all over the north of England. Marriage and motherhood necessitated taking a break from all that, but once my son was a little older, I looked for a way to get back into singing, first finding Hepton Singers, with whom I still sing, and then Alyssium.
Stella King
For me as for many folk, unselfconscious childhood singing was silenced as I grew older by the comments of an insensitive choir conductor at school, and I didn’t sing again until my thirties. Then the sound and repertoire of my local chamber choir (The Hepton Singers) and the obvious fun my friends therein had making the music together finally drew me in. Since then I have had wonderful times at Early Music Forum workshops and summer schools, developing some confidence and experience. I have begun to understand that that my whole body is the instrument, and that singing freely it is often a matter of “doing” very little other than being present and aware, and simply allowing my voice to come out. Funnily enough my working life as an acupuncturist, and the practice of yoga have taught me similar things. I think they are a good guide for general living too, and they will always be work in progress. Singing with Alyssium fulfils a long-held wish to sing in a small ensemble and work on developing the communication and sensitivity between performers that I have seen on stage in other ensembles. Singing Alison’s newly composed music is a particular treat and privilege – the world hears it first from our mouths, which is a remarkable thing.