Daniel McCoshan

From Helensburgh's Gardens to Covent Garden's Stage
daniel_mccoshan_helensburgh_hero.jpg

When he became a choirboy at St.Michael’s Church, young Daniel McCoshan sang part of Handel’s ‘Messiah’. Little did he realise the role that its music would play in his future…..

Daniel McCoshan was born in Helensburgh in 1920, and grew up to be a popular and familiar figure locally. He lost his left eye in an accident at the age of 6 but this disability was not to hamper his path to success in later life.

At an early age, Daniel realised that he had been blessed with an extraordinary voice and as a boy he sang in St Michael’s Church Choir and participated in various amateur dramatics. In 1940, Daniel was called up to the Black Watch and later the Pioneer Corps. He was posted to Ledbury and was put in charge of Italian prisoners of war who taught him their native language.

After his demob from the Army, he worked as a Gardener with the Parks’ Department in Helensburgh and it was during this period that he was asked to sing the ‘Messiah’ again, a reprisal of the performance that he had given as a choirboy, back in St Michael’s Church.

A lady who heard him perform suggested that he ought to consider singing professionally; such was the power and emotion of his tenor voice. Daniel thought this would be a wonderful thing to do but did not see how he would be able to achieve it. Unbeknownst to Daniel, the lady, together with a group of folks from the town had arranged for him to be auditioned at the Guildhall School of Music. He was accepted as a student, in his early 30’s, and during his first year at the School he won the coveted Gold Medal for Tenor voice.

Following his graduation from the Guildhall in the mid 1950’s, Daniel joined the Glyndebourne Opera Company and sang at venues and festivals around the globe regularly sharing the stage with colleagues such as Joan Sutherland and Iain Wallace. In 1961 Daniel signed a contract with the Royal Opera House, in Covent Garden, where he remained for 30 years as a member of the chorus.

In 1963, Daniel returned to Helensburgh to sing two Hymns for the BBC’s ‘Songs of Praise’ which was recorded at Helensburgh’s Old & St. Andrew’s Parish Church (now the West Kirk).

During his distinguished career, Daniel sang with many of the great names of Opera from the Three Tenors to Kiri Takanawa, and sang roles in all of the classic operas.

Even though Daniel spent his career living in England, he never forgot his Helensburgh and Scottish Roots, returning regularly to visit his family including his brother James (who was affectionately known as Coshie and ‘Mr Rhu Amateurs’ because of his involvement with the club, which spanned more than 30 years — as a player, manager, and groundsman). Daniel was a great lover of Burns, one of his favourites being ‘Is there For Honest Poverty’, and regularly performed at Burns Suppers throughout the Nation.

Daniel died on the 21st January 2003, aged 82 in Kidderminster Hospital, and is survived by his loving wife Helen and two sons, Duncan and Andrew.