President – Jonathan Summers OAM *
International opera singer since 1974
Jonathan has been the Society’s President since 1997.
Jonathan has achieved world acclaim for his interpretation of a wide variety of operatic roles in the great opera houses of the world, particularly the works of Mozart, Verdi and Puccini.
After early training in Australia and Britain, his highly praised début with Kent Opera as Rigoletto in Jonathan Miller’s production was quickly followed by a contract with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. His many guest appearances include Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera, Opera North, Glyndebourne Festival, Opera Australia, Victoria State Opera, State Opera of South Australia, Paris Opera, Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, La Fenice Venice, Teatro Comunale Florence, Théâtre Municipale Lausanne, Hamburg State Opera, Bavarian State Opera Munich, State Opera Cologne, Théâtre de la Monnaie Brussels, Grand Theatre Geneva, the Metropolitan Opera New York, and Lyric Opera Chicago.
* In 2009 Jonathan was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), an order of chivalry established in 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service.
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The Society is also served by the following as Vice Presidents:
Mary House, John Morgan, Ron Sharp and Margaret Vowles ,
Musical Director & Conductor – Michael Stefan Wood, BEM* Dip. Mus., LTCL, LLCM, ALCM
Mike taught at what is now known as Burgess Hill Academy for 44 years and was its renowned Head of Music for 32 years. As a musician he has played in a variety of orchestral and chamber music groups. He is particularly interested in recorder music. Mike has also sung in many local choirs and was for some years in the Brighton Festival Chorus singing under such conductors as André Previn, Lorin Maazel and Sir Colin Davis.
With this experience he brings to the choir an enthusiasm for music which he imparts readily to its members. He has directed the Choral Society for more than 30 years (2017 was his 30th anniversary). He helps choir members to achieve their potential, while making rehearsals enjoyable, and encourages people to give expression to what they are singing.
He has sung several lead roles in many local stage productions. As well as directing Burgess Hill Choral Society, Mike directs Burgess Hill Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of local group Wilbury Jam.
* In the Queen's Birthday Honours List of June 2013, Mike was awarded the honour of BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to music in Burgess Hill. The BEM is awarded on merit to people who have made a difference to their community.
Accompanist – Phillip Sear ATCL, Dip. LCM
Phillip studied piano and organ while at school in Mid-Sussex, and was asked to play for school Gilbert & Sullivan productions. He read Maths and Music at Royal Holloway, London and became an accountant in the City. In the 1980s he turned more to the music side and became an accompanist to local operatic societies for their music theatre productions.
He later became a rehearsal pianist for opera groups in Sussex and Surrey, and attended advanced piano classes at Morley College for several years. He has given public performances of works by neglected composers, and has produced many videos of their music for his YouTube channel, PSearPianist, which has received more than 13.5 million views (February 2021).
Phillip plays for GCSE performance recordings as well as diploma and grade examinations, and regularly accompanies at local music festivals. He is accompanist to the Mid Sussex Choir as well as Burgess Hill Choral Society, and also plays the organ for services at local churches. You can find out more on his website.