GUISBOROUGH Choral Society's performance of Handel's Messiah will be the first under the baton of its new musical director, Rebecca Johnson

After five successful years, Angela Bennett stepped down from the post after Guisborough Festival of Song in June. Mrs Johnson is well-known to many involved with music on Teesside, perhaps under her maiden name of Rebecca Topping.

Born in the North-East, she attended the Royal Northern College of Music Junior Department at the age of 10. She then studied both cello and piano at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester before accepting a scholarship to study piano at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

During this time, she performed regularly across the UK and abroad. After graduating, Mrs Johnson worked as a lounge pianist on cruise ships for a short time before returning to her roots in the North-East.

Here she has given a number of popular solo and chamber performances and has recently formed a duo with fellow pianist Alison Gill. They will perform a recital as part of the Hartlepool Music Society next autumn.

Actively engaged in music education, she has achieved a diploma in teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector and is completing her Certificate of Music Education.

She enjoys a wide range of musical endeavours including accompanying, choir leading and delivering concerts and workshops in schools. She particularly enjoys the work she does with national organisation Streetwise Opera exploring and performing opera with people who have experienced homelessness, as well as her work with musinc, a Teesside-based project leading workshops with young people in challenging circumstances.

Messiah is performed at 7.30pm on Saturday, December 9, at Guisborough Methodist Church.