About Us

Cantata Music Education was founded in 2009 by long-time friends and fellow teachers, Catherine Silman & Anne Mitchell

Having worked together in music education for over twenty years, they put those skills to use bringing music into the wider community by establishing several daytime choirs and a community orchestra for those new to orchestral playing.

When Annie left to return to her roots in Scotland, Catherine was joined by Pamela Jay, who having retired from playing violin with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanied all the choirs and arranged music for the orchestra.

Pam loved being part of the Cantata family, but sadly passed away in 2019. Since then, Catherine has continued running Cantata Music Education with the assistance of her son, David, who helps with the day-to-day running of the business as well as singing in most of the choirs and playing in the orchestra.

Cantata is supported by local professional musicians who play for concerts and rehearsals. Learn more about us below.

Catherine and Annie

Catherine Silman (ARCM, FISM) has been involved in music education for nearly forty years

From a musical family, as a child she took piano, violin, singing lessons, sang in local choirs and participated in a large number of extra-curricular music groups at school.

She graduated from Warwick University having studied music, composition and choir training and has worked in the education sector ever since. An experienced choral conductor and teacher, she has considerable knowledge in producing a wide variety of musical events from concerts to full-scale productions.

As well as running Cantata Music Education, Catherine also directs the church choir at St George’s Church in Poynton where she lives.


Over the years Cantata choir members have led or taken part in large-scale community projects and events, coming together as ‘Cantata Collective’ with our good friend and Honorary President, Matt Baker and the Theatre in the Quarter.

2010 - Noye's Fludde

Our first venture was in 2010 when we staged Benjamin Britten’s ‘Noye’s Fludde’ in St George’s Church, Poynton.

2011 - Son Rise

In 2011, we performed a work Catherine and Annie had written for Easter. Called ‘Son Rise’, it tells the story of Holy Week in music and readings. A couple of years later, members of our daytime choirs came together in St Martin’s Church, Higher Poynton, to make a CD recording of this work which was broadcast on Two Lochs Radio in Scotland as part of their Easter meditation.

2012 - Across The World

In March 2012 we joined forces with Matt Baker and Theatre in the Quarter based in Chester for the BBC Music Nation Event as part of the Cultural Olympics, a performance that was repeated in May 2012 at Tatton Park as the Olympic torch came through Knutsford.

We were also part of a vast anthem, ‘Across the World’ and around 100 Cantata choristers lined the wall above the amphitheater as part of a huge choir.

This anthem was repeated at Tatton Park on the steps of the Mansion at the end of May when the Olympic Torch came through Knutsford under the new title of Moment to Shine. Although the rain poured down, our singers smiled through it all and proved it really was their moment to shine!

Our friendship with Matt continued over the years as he led our singers in some fun afternoons of singing. These afternoons were always good fun for all who participated as Matt is such an inspirational singing leader.

2014 - Commemorations


In 2014 we joined forces with Matt again for the very moving short performance of Over by Christmas. This told the story of the brave men who left to fight in WW1. As many left from train stations, the performances were held on numerous stations across the whole county.

Over 100 of our singers performed on many stations here in East Cheshire from Northwich through to Stockport and from Poynton to Macclesfield. Some of us were also lucky enough to perform at Manchester Piccadilly and St Pancras down in London.


A smaller number of the Cantata Collective went on to perform in Theatre in the Quarter’s highly acclaimed production of Silent Night. This moving play with music told the story of Christmas Eve in the trenches and we were lucky enough to be back at Tatton Park, although inside this time, as well as giving a couple of performances in our home of Poynton. These were always good fun, albeit rather chilly at times and Frosty the donkey would often join in with the singing!

2012 - Blue Skies

From recording our own CD in 2013, we moved onto film and in May 2017 we made our own film called ‘Blue Skies’.

This 35-minute documentary features members of our groups talking about the impact music has on people’s lives. The aim of the film was to share true stories of the power of music in the lives of ordinary people and ends with the bringing together of over 160 Cantata singers and the orchestra in St George’s Church in Poynton to record a special performance of our choir anthem, ‘Family in Song’.

Written by Catherine and Annie in 2013, the song represents what singing and music means to Cantata members, and it has featured in every summer concert since it was written.

2012 - Queen's Jubilee

We brought our choirs together for a special concert to mark the Queen’s Jubilee. A long weekend of musical celebrations was planned in Poynton and we kick-started the whole weekend with a splendid evening of traditional music together with guests the Royal British Legion Band and the evening culminated in a grand Proms-style sing-along with choir, band and audience all joining forces and waving flags.

2014 - Annual Singing

From 2014 onwards we have held an annual singing day each year, bringing together members of all our groups plus friends and family focussing on music from the more standard classical repertoire.

As none of our choirs are SATB, singing music of a more classical genre is difficult, hence the singing days. Works covered have been Fauré’s ‘Requiem’, extracts from Handel’s ‘Messiah’, Karl Jenkins ‘The Armed Man Suite’ and ‘Orpheus in the underworld’ by Offenbach to name a few. We use local professional soloists and repetiteurs to enrich the experience for our members.

2019 - 10 Years Old

2019 was a very special year as we celebrated ten years of Cantata with a wonderful evening of wining and dining attended by around 200 Cantata members. It was a very memorable occasion!

2020 - COVID

Like many community music groups, everything came to halt in 2020; all concerts and face-to-face rehearsals were cancelled.

We kept ourselves connected by meeting on Zoom with singing and playing sessions and we even held an online Nativity over Zoom in December 2020!

Catherine also held theory sessions on Zoom and even taught a few keen orchestra members some basics in composition, inviting them to have a go at writing something that could be performed in an orchestra concert in the future. Some did, and their pieces were played at the first orchestra concert held after all the Covid restrictions were lifted.

2021-2023 - Rebuilding

From September 2021, we have been slowly rebuilding after nearly two years away from singing and playing together.

Our four choirs and orchestra are growing in both numbers and confidence and in 2022 we held summer and Christmas concerts, the first since 2019.

2023 promises to be another great year of making music together and you are welcome to explore this site and see if we can encourage you to join us. As our choir anthem says: “Sing out loud, sing out strong, for we’re a family in song, I with you and you with me in harmony. This is where we’re meant to be, here within our family, in song.”

Visit our Gallery to see more photographs of Cantata life.

Why not come and join the fun?

If you join one of our groups, you will find yourself part of a friendly, welcoming musical family.

Contact us now to discuss joining any of our groups or orchestra.