Concert 17th March 2018 Conductor, Soloists & Programme
MARK GRIFFITHS – Musical Director
Mark Griffiths began his musical training as a chorister at St John’s College, Cambridge and returned to the university as a Choral Scholar at Trinity College. While at Trinity he started conducting the college orchestra, concentrating on large orchestral works including Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 and Vaughan Williams’s 5th Symphony. During postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music he began to conduct singers and soon after began a long association with the multi-award-winning Berkshire Youth Choirs, initially as Associate Conductor and latterly as Acting Musical Director. His current work with young singers is as Choral Director and Lead Tutor in Voice for the Junior Department of Trinity College of Music.
In 2003 he became Musical Director of Coro, a prize-winning London-based chamber choir with whom he won the Grand Prix at the Tallinn International Choral Competition and prizes at festivals in Arezzo, Italy and Tours, France. They have recorded three CDs and sung backing vocals for a number of classical crossover albums including Russell Watson and Katherine Jenkins (as well as Sarah Brightman and Friar Alessandro, on each of whose albums Mark was also vocal coach).
Mark has worked with the Philharmonia Chorus, preparing them for concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and on tour, and for small professional groups including Trinity Voices. He also coaches choral conductors for the Association of British Choral Directors at whose National Convention he has been a presenter. He is an adjudicator for the National Festival of Music for Youth and a former recipient of a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship.
Richard Pearce – Organ
Richard Pearce was organ scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, and after graduating with first class honours in music he studied piano accompaniment for two years at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he is now a vocal coach and staff accompanist. Richard is fortunate to work in a variety of musical fields, but working with chamber choirs and choruses has become a speciality. He records and broadcasts regularly with the BBC Singers, and recently conducted them in a recording of works by Britten, Poston and Roxanna Panufnik, a concert featuring works by James MacMillan and Judith Bingham, and at the Vezelay festival in France. Richard has a long-standing association with the Royal Choral Society, performing with them several times a year at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In addition he makes twice-yearly trips to Sweden to work with groups in the Stockholm and Malmö areas. Richard is regular organist with the Philharmonia and BBC Symphony Orchestras in London. Recently he toured China performing Saint-Säens’s Organ Symphony with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia. He performs regularly in Promenade concerts and recordings, including at the Last Night of the Proms to a worldwide television audience. He frequently conducts and plays for services at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster and at the Houses of Parliament.
Cat Gill – Soprano
Cat began her musical training with the award-winning Berkshire Youth Choir and completed her studies with Jennifer Caron at Middlesex University. As a regular soloist with the chamber choir Coro, Cat has appeared on a number of recordings and in festivals across Europe. She has also been engaged as soloist for performances of Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Monteverdi’s Vespers, along with liturgical classics including Miserere.
Neil Bellingham – Baritone
Neil was born in Croydon and studied at New College, Oxford. He studied singing with Russell Smythe, and now enjoys performing a wide range of repertoire as both soloist and consort singer. In recent years he has worked extensively with Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d’Astrée, as a soloist with the ENO Contemporary Studio on a variety of new compositions, with the chorus of the Royal Opera House, Garsington, Grange Park Opera and Birmingham Opera Company and in several productions at the Royal Albert Hall. He made his solo début at the Proms with the London Sinfonietta. He enjoys working with choral societies across the country. Solo performances this year
include works by Bach, Handel and Duruflé. Neil has worked with many leading ensembles including The King’s Consort, Europa Galante, Pygmalion, London Voices, Metro Voices, Philharmonia Voices, The Gabrieli Consort, The Academy of Ancient Music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, work which spans a huge range of repertoire and styles providing a rich and varied musical life. Neil is also a member of the choir of St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street.
At this concert, in another departure from our traditional programming, we will be extending our repertoire with an exploration of the riches of English choral music from the 19th and 20th centuries. Our selection of pieces, some very familiar, others less well known, will span the 100-plus years from 1834 and Blessed be the God and Father, one of the earliest of the many remarkable anthems by the celebrated 19th-century cathedral musician Samuel Sebastian Wesley, to the exquisite Psalm 42 setting Like as the hart, composed in 1941 by the equally revered Herbert Howells – perhaps a 20th-century Wesley counterpart. Along the way we will be performing the ever-popular Hear my prayer by the ‘honorary’ Englishman Felix Mendelssohn, two substantial works by Hubert Parry including his renowned setting of Milton’s Ode Blest Pair of Sirens – Vaughan Williams’s “favourite piece of music written by an Englishman” – and early 20th-century pieces by Edward Elgar, Balfour Gardiner, John Ireland and Vaughan Williams himself.
JN / January 2018