Background to the Forest Flute Choir

The Forest Flute Choir (FFC) was set up nearly two decades ago by local teacher and flautist, Fiona Crawley who identified a need for local flute players to have a creative outlet. The Forest of Dean has always been renowned for its distinguished musical heritage, in particular for its high standard of singing and silver band playing, but there were and still are plenty of other musicians out there who are keen to find a group to play with.

It was always a constitutional rule that FFC would try its very hardest to be totally non-elitist and encourage everyone to come along, regardless of age, experience or ability. There are no auditions to join and people drop in and out of the group according to their own priorities. We have a constant core of about 30 players and we play about 3 concerts per year, raising monies for local charities or deserving causes. We rehearse bi-monthly on Sundays during term times. Our repertoire is highly eclectic – anything goes here – film scores, TV tunes, standard classical repertoire, Jazz and much, much more. We try hard to please everyone – it’s not always possible, but we do our best!

Six years ago we were given a most generous donation from Parkend Carnival Committee and were able to purchase an alto flute and a piccolo for members to play. In 2012 The New Grove Trust, based in  Monmouthshire awarded us a grant of £1500 which enabled the group to purchase a bass flute. In 2018 the group received a further grant and some generous individual funding and was able to purchase a huge flute, the sub- contra bass. This greatly enhances the sound of the choir, reinforcing the bass and turning into more of an orchestra.

In past years the committee has awarded a small bursary to a young flautist to assist them in their musical studies – previous winners have been Debbie Sandells, Charlotte Wood, Matthew Mann, Adele Franghiadi and Beth Handley. Currently this project is ‘on hold’ whilst we raise funds for the new flute but the committee will re-instate the bursary award as soon as it is able.


Profile of Fiona Crawley, Musical Director

Fiona started playing the flute when she was 10 and went on to study music, with Italian, at Bristol University where she graduated with a BA(Hons) in 1987.  She is a member of The British Flute Society.

Fiona is a well established, passionate, flute teacher who teaches in local schools, where she has worked as a tutor for Gloucestershire Music, as well as having private pupils.

She is a regular orchestral and chamber music player throughout the county, and recently played both WA Mozart’s Flute Concerto in D with the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra, and JS Bach’s Suite in b minor for Flute and Strings with the Penyard Orchestra in Ross.

As well as setting up the Forest Flute Choir,  Fiona Was instrumental in creating the Yvonne Walkerdine Music Bursary which was an annual financial award set up as a tribute to the late Yvonne Walkerdine. She is currently conductor and musical director of The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra.

Fiona is currently preparing for an MA and is hoping to take grade 8 treble recorder (when she can remember all the fingerings).