Chris Kimber was born in Carshalton in 1972, he joined the church choir at St Mary's, Beddington in 1979 and sung there for 30 years! Family life has forced a break from this commitment but will always remain a source of inspiration and musical grounding. His formal musical education began the same year with piano lessons from a local "old school" piano teacher. He did not get on terribly well having been accused of too much "thumping" and on entry to Whitgift school in Croydon at the age of 10 he decided that perhaps percussion might be more his thing, and ceased his piano lessons.
For his first year, Chris studied with John Colbourne and made a promising start on all aspects of percussion playing, debuting on triangle with a joint venture with the school orchestra and a school from Nuremberg, Germany, in a performance of Rossini's "Thieving Magpie" overture at St Martin-in-the-field's, Trafalgar Square .
This instant taste of the West End music scene set Chris off on a career as a percussionist -
"I learned so much in my first year with John, I still use the teaching
techniques for beginners that he used with me, in my teaching methods
today. It was John who suggested to the head of music that I was given the
chance to play with the orchestra - most unusual for a Lower First! -
surrounded by all these "grown-up" boys I got a real bug for ensemble playing"
After a brief spell with Nigel Bates (Royal Opera House) Chris continued for the next 5 years with Timpanist Graham King, who worked on his sight reading and general orchestral playing. During this period, the playing opportunities grew and grew. Chris ended up playing with the school Dance Band, Wind Band and Orchestra playing such works as Rutter's "Gloria", Dvorak and Tchaikovsky symphonies and Orff's "Carmina Burana" as well as Operas such as Carmen and Mozart's Magic Flute and even a pantomime, along with other assorted concerts and shows.
However, it was also during this period that Chris discovered composing -
"I used to get together with a few friends and we would spend all our spare
break times bashing around on a piano, just making things up, working
things out, improvising over simple chord sequences. It gave us such a buzz"
The school also had facilities to record and Chris's "group" made a few demo recordings for their own amusement -
"We used to come in to school during the holidays- sometimes without
permission - and record our "songs" though much of what we did was
instrumental. School boys are not really up to the job of vocals aged 13/14!
Though we made mistakes, there was a real vibe to our performances and I
still enjoy listening to them now. It really was great to have all this
recording gear, none of the staff knew how to use it, so we were left to our
own devices. We learned so much ourselves and picked up bits from
magazines on recording techniques"
Chris had decided not to take GCES music (Art seemed far less work) so his only compositions were purely for pleasure. In 1987 - the year of the "Speakeasy" concert, Chris wrote "A23", which was later revised and used as an A Level composition. He also began writing for church choir at this time, with "Lord, I am not High Minded", a setting of Psalm 131 (revised 1994) and a set of "Versicles and Responses" both of which were performed at St Mary's.