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Berenice Lewis

Musical Director

Berenice Lewis grew up in Leicester where she studied piano and organ with Howard Gregory and sang with the Leicestershire Youth Choir. She came to Yorkshire in 1989 to study at York University.

During her student years Berry became
 involved in various groups as pianist, conductor and singer. As Musical Director of the University’s Gilbert & Sullivan Society, she directed large-scale productions of Princess Ida and Ruddigore, and performed in many other shows. Whilst working for her degree, Berry also made time to coach singers, teach the piano and act as regular répétiteur for the York Musical Theatre Company and York Opera. While still a student she was organist at St Deny’s Church, Walmgate, and later at York’s Central Methodist Church

Berry began working with 'The Phil in 1998 and took up the post of Musical Director in 2000. She now lives in Beverley, East Yorkshire, where she is Director of Music at St. Mary's church and teaches singing and piano.



Richard Kay

Deputy Musical Director

Richard Kay trained in Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham whilst also studying ancillary music and singing with the Birmingham University Liturgical Choir. A member of 'The Phil' since 2002, Richard has been a regular soloist both for the choir and for other groups and events around York and beyond. He often incorporates singing and music into his work in theatre; he is Associate Director for Badapple Theatre Company, has worked as co-director, director and musical director, and leads their youth theatre classes. For more information visit

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Graham Kay

Assistant Musical Director

Graham Kay has been actively involved in the York music scene for many years. Having gained a Choral Scholarship to St. John's College, Cambridge, he subsequently pursued music as his principal hobby, singing solos on many concert platforms and performing in numerous musical theatre productions with local amateur societies. He is a life member and former Chairman and President of York Musical Theatre Company. He has at various times conducted and been chorus master for the Poppleton Methodist Choir, The Poppleton Singers and the York Musical Theatre Company, as well as being involved with a number of smaller groups of singers. He joined the choir in 2007.


Helen Smith


Helen Smith joined 'The Phil' in February 2019, along with her husband, Rob, who now sings in the bass section. Helen is currently accompanist to Jubilate Ladies Choir in Easingwold as well as Assistant Musical Director of Dynamics Community Band based in Huntington. She was previously Musical Director of Musicality Vocal Ensemble and accompanist to the Lincoln Orpheus Male Voice Choir.

Helen is one of the team of pianists who play at Castle Howard, and she plays regularly for various events in Easingwold and the local area.


Mike Wash

Choir Chairman

Mike joined the choir in 2014. His earliest memories of love for music came from his Aunty who was a member of the Doyle Carte Company and would often serenade Gilbert and Sullivan songs from Mikado and HMS Pinafore, so it's no surprise that late on in life, Mike appeared as a pirate on a stage production of Pirates of Penzance. He also recall seeing York Phil with his mother,  performing 'Carols in Kirkgate' in the 1960s - it clearly left an impression.  For several years Mike performed in amateur productions with The York Musical Theatre company where he played several character parts from Chief Sitting Bull in Annie get Your Gun to Bruce Ismay in Titanic the Musical. After a few years with the Phil, Mike was asked to be stage manager which was a significant learning curve for him as to how the choir worked, so when he was asked to be a trustee with a view of being a Chairman, Mike felt honoured and took on the role in what must be the most turbulent of times in the choirs history ie, managing the transition out of COVID. Mike looks forward to supporting the choirs journey towards its Centenary year in 2025.


Janet Waggott

Choir President

Janet is very proud and honoured to have been appointed as the President of the York Philharmonic Male Voice choir in October 2021. Janet has been associated and involved with the choir for most of her life. The YPMVC is absolutely rooted in her family and very special and important to her. One of my earliest memories of the choir dates back to watching Carols in Kirkgate at Christmas on her first colour television! Janet is very happy to be involved in all aspects of the choir as it is an extremely talented and happy musical and supportive community .

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