Composer, conductor and actor-musician
Born Christopher Irvin Browne, his earliest composition as a schoolboy was Eine Kleine Schulmusic for his school orchestra in Leamington Spa! He also learned to play piano, oboe, descant recorder and to sing tenor.
After a 3-year diploma training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, London, in the early 1970s, he had to vary his surname to become an Equity member. As an actor, his career took him into repertory, TV, film and summer seasonal repertory for over 40 years. His work often involved him in musical theatre productions.
For 20 years he ran a professional company; between the tours and seasons he organised, he also achieved a BA (Hons) 2:1 degree through the Open University. A regular feature of his work at this time was the setting of lyrics for the company's original Christmas shows.
Commitments to composing, and to orchestral and choral performance, have brought new developments.
He was Musical Theatre Lecturer at Huddersfield Technical College 2000-2006 (also Accrington & Rawtenstall, and Wakefield College), often providing original material for his students. Since 2009 he has been Musical Director of Hebden Bridge Little Theatre Choir.
He had first met violinist Mark Ostyn when they were both working as actors in television. Chris was invited to join Mark's orchestra, and bring the Little Theatre choir to share Christmas concerts, eg. in Oakwell Hall (2011) and other community venues. In June 2012, as Mark's solo work increased, Chris was asked to be the Conductor/M.D. of their newly-named White Rose Orchestra, a position he held until February 2016. Meanwhile, he and the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre choir joined Mark again for a summer concert for the National Trust in Hardcastle Crags.
Chris continued to prepare The White Rose Orchestra for concerts in venues ranging from a care home to a special school, from the Manchester Gilbert and Sullivan Society to Adel Methodist Church Hall, to accompany pianist Natalia Strelchenko. In almost four years, some of the personnel changed, musicians joined as others moved away, and it became apparent to Chris that the core of a New White Rose Orchestra could accommodate those who share his aims, and wish to continue together, while setting others free to follow their own preferences.
The New White Rose Orchestra has performed at Brighouse Methodist Church for John Buxton's Celebration of Music III, and at Connaught Court care home in York.
New White Rose Orchestra
On Sunday afternoon, 26 June, 2016 as part of the National Gardens Scheme, the orchestra played a selection of Light Classical Music out-of-doors to the many visitors to the beautiful gardens at Birstwith Hall (kindly opened by Sir James and Lady Aykroyd).
The orchestra joined forces with the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre Choir (which I founded in 2009) for a concert at the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre on Saturday 9 July, 2016 and again in 2017.
Most recently the orchestra performed for the Royal Horticultural Society at Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate.
In Autumn 2017 it was decided to re-name the orchestra The Chris Irvin Concert Orchestra
Chris is also a regular guest conductor for the Idle Orchestra, and Leeds Music Club, and is currently helping to revive the Rochdale Light Orchestra.
In recent years he has developed his composing career. In a light classical style, and with a strong theatrical genesis, his music aims to be accessible and memorable. He has an ability to write feel-good-factor songs which helped to make popular the professional productions presented locally in Hebden Bridge Little Theatre 1987-94, and elsewhere.
Works premiered by the Boots Orchestra, Nottingham, have been an Overture to the musical LOVE CHILD (2008) - (the show performed at Highfields Theatre, Huddersfield and The Auden Theatre, Norfolk), and a concert piece DECK DANCE (2009). For Christmas 2009, SOUTHWELL SLEIGH RIDE (for orchestra and audience) entertained a packed Southwell Minster. For Christmas 2010 a new choral and orchestral carol was performed there, LULLABY, HOMELESS BABY (recorded by the RTE Concert Orchestra).
Other pieces have been played by the Rochdale Light Orchestra, Orchestra of Square Chapel, Halifax, Morecambe Promenade Concert Orchestra, Leeds Summer Orchestra, White Rose Orchestra & Todmorden Symphony Orchestra.
In summer 2009 at the Edinburgh Fringe, the St. Clements Wind Ensemble, London, premiered a new decet called SEA BREEZE.
FOREST AIRS FROM SHAKESPEARE for full orchestra (premiered at the 25th Anniversary Pennine Spring Music Festival, 2010) is based on original music composed for Bridge Theatre productions of AS YOU LIKE IT and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. It is presented in two 'Acts', and is partly-based on the lyrics from the plays. Two new shorter Suites have been prepared from this original work, entitled ARDEN AIRS & MIDSUMMER MOODS (recorded by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia).
MIDSUMMER MOODS was chosen by Classic FM as the featured disc during the week of January 12th, 2015 on John Brunning's Drive programme.
Other works include THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL Suite for The Aspidistra Orchestra ; THREE DIVERSIONS for VIOLIN & Orch. ; SUMMER SERENADE for Orch.; A Wind Quintet ; Orchestral NOCTURNE, and CHANSON for Clarinet (or Violoncello) and Orchestra.
Extracts of performances can be heard on the Catalogue pages.