Yateley Choral Society

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Previous Musical Directors

Past Musical Directors


Richard Bannan

2011 - 2016
Richard Bannan Conducting

Richard began singing as a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral. More recently, he studied music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was a Choral Scholar and has sung regularly with ensembles such as the Monteverdi Choir, Polyphony, Academy of Ancient Music and the BBC Singers. In September 2014, he joined the Choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, as a Lay-Clerk.

During his time at Cambridge, Richard developed an interest in choral conducting, forming his own chamber choir to perform a variety of works such as Parry's Songs of Farewell and Richard Strauss' Der Abend. Since then he has held conducting positions at the Yehudi Menuhin School, were he notably conducted a programme of works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in front of the composer, as well as working with the Reading Festival Chorus, the Reading Phoenix Choir, the Rodolfus Choir and the chamber choir of the Pilgrim's School, Winchester.

Aside from his conducting commitments Richard has sung extensively as a soloist in repertoire such as the Mozart, Brahms, Faure and Durufle Requiems, the Bach Passions, Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio, Charpentier's Te Deum and Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs. Recent solo performances have included mass settings by Mozart, Haydn, Rossini and Puccini. He has also sung Handel's Messiah for the Royal Hospital Concert Series and Bach cantatas at the London Bach Festival.

During the summer of 2008, he sang baritone solos for a series of performances of Sch체tz's Musikalische Exequien, under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, culminating in a concert at the Edinburgh International Festival. Following this, Richard has begun to specialise in baroque repertoire, performing Bach and Sch체tz with David Bates and La Nuova Musica at the Aldebrough Easter Festival, Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers with the same ensemble at the Wigmore Hall and forming a close relationship with the The Rare Theatricall, performing music by Purcell, Bach and Handel.

Other recent performances include a European tour with the Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra singing works by Schumann, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, whilst on stage he has sung the roles of Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and the title role in Monteverdi's Orfeo He has also sung the roles of Judas and Pilate in Bach's Matth채us-Passion with Richard Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music as well as parts in Carissimi's Jepthe and Purcell's King Arthur. In recital he has sung cycles by Brahms (Vier Ernste Ges채nge), Vierne (Les Angelus), Cornelius (Weinachtslieder) and Finzi (I Said to Love) as well as shorter works by Beethoven, Schumann and Debussy.

Away from his performing commitments Richard is an enthusiastic teacher of singing, working at Bloxham School and for the Eton Choral Courses. He is also a keen songwriter and composer, harbouring the unique ambition of headlining Glyndebourne and Glastonbury in the same season.

Rufus Frowde

2005 - 2011
Rufus Frowde
Photograph by Glyn Davies

Rufus Frowde read music at Oxford University (where he was Conductor of the Oxford University Philharmonia, Organ Scholar of Merton College and a tenor in Schola Cantorum). He then became Organ Scholar of Worcester Cathedral. Following a career in teaching, in 2003 Rufus took up his current post as Organist and Assistant Director of Music at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. This has included playing for the Queen (including the 2010 Queen’s Christmas Speech) and accompanying Kiri te Kanawa and José Carreras. He combined this with postgraduate study in Choral Direction and Church Music at the Royal Academy of Music, being awarded prizes in both disciplines. At the RAM, he also studied organ with David Titterington and singing with David Lowe.

Rufus appears on the Divine Art and Diversions labels and has participated in workshops with the BBC Singers, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, the Royal Academy of Music Chamber Choir as well as conducting in the London Master Classes under Benjamin Zander. Current conducting appointments include Surrey Youth Choir, Yateley Choral Society, Mid Hertfordshire Youth Orchestra, Dacorum Youth Orchestra, Dacorum Community Choir (founder) and return concerts with the Hertfordshire Philharmonia. He is Assistant Conductor for Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra and has also formed his own professional group, PAEAN. In September 2008 he became Musical Director of VIVAMUS with whom he has several forthcoming concerts in St. James’s, Piccadilly and St. Martin-in-the Fields.

Recent performances include numerous UK cathedrals, the Royal Albert Hall, the Spitalfields Festival, New Chamber Opera, La Madeleine (Paris), Cologne Cathedral and Neresheim Abbey (Germany), as well as Dave Brubeck’s Cantata The Gates of Justice (European Premiere). He has accompanied Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle in Rome under the direction of Sir David Willcocks and in 2007 conducted the West Forest Sinfonia and the Centenary Chorus in a capacity performance of Verdi’s Requiem in Guildford Cathedral. He has accompanied the trumpeter Crispian Steele Perkins in a concert with the English Arts Chorale and in 2008 played continuo on a UK tour with the acclaimed violinist Lara St John and the London Baroque Ensemble. Rufus is also the regular accompanist for The Knack Singers (a recital series for recent graduates of ENO’s training scheme ‘The Knack’).

On the lighter side, he is a regular deputy pianist in the Palm Court Quartet at the Ritz Hotel, London. He has also appeared as a violinist with the late Gene Pitney on a UK tour and with the Rock Band EYELASH on their 2009 debut album ‘Recession’. In January 2011, Rufus became a part-time member of the academic staff at the Princess Helena College.

Visit Rufus’ own website: www.rufusfrowde.co.uk

Steven Grahl

2003 - 2004

Following Organ Scholarships to Derby and Norwich Cathedrals, Steven Grahl won the organ scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, combining reading for a degree in music with playing for the daily chapel services. In 2003 he completed a Postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music, studying the organ with David Titterington and graduating with Distinction. A Limpus and Dixon Prize-winner in Steven has also been awarded the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Silver Medallion and he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.
Steven is currently director of music at St. Marylebone Parish Church and the London Oratory School Schola, conducting the choir of boys and men in liturgical commitments at the London Oratory, and a range of outside engagements, including contributions to the latest Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter film soundtracks. Concert work includes Duruflé’s Requiem and Dvorak’s Mass in D at the London Oratory, as well as providing the children’s choir for Polish National Opera’s performance of Symanozski’s opera King Roger at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
During 2003 Steven gave organ recitals featuring the music of Percy Whitlock at Westminster and Bath Abbeys, culminating in a performance of the C minor Sonata at Coventry Cathedral. He has also performed in Derby, Norwich, Southwark and Westminster Cathedrals, Bath Abbey and Norwich and Oxford Town Halls.
In 2003, Steven assisted Murray Hipkin and David Owen Norris with Bampton Classical Opera’s productions of Salieri’s Falstaff, and Cimarosa’s The Two Barons of Rocca Azzurra respectively, and has worked with conductor Jason Lai as repetiteur for a performance of Haydn’s opera L’infedelta delusa at the English Haydn Festival. Steven was Musical Director of Yateley Choral Society from 2003 to 2005.

Steven now conducts Guildford Chamber Choir, is Organist and Director of Music at St. Marylebone Parish Church, London and Assistant Organist at New College, Oxford.

David Soar

2001 - 2003

David Soar was born in Nottingham and began his organ studies at Chesterfield Parish Church. He became organ scholar at Worksop College during his A-levels, and then spent a year as organ scholar of Southwell Minster. He spent a further year in a similar capacity before beginning a course of organ studies at the Royal Academy of Music.
David has been assistant organist at Hampstead Parish Church and most recently organ scholar at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street in the City of London. He is active as a freelance organist, singer and conductor in and around London.
As a conductor, David directed the Pegasus Choir for eight months, covering a wide variety of choral works. He also directed the choir of St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, where he was organ scholar for two years. In addition to this he has directed a number of choirs for church services of all types.
David has sung at the royal Opera House, Covent Gardsn, with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Welsh National Opera.

Andrew Watts

1990 - 1998
Andrew Watts
Photograph by P.Jones

Andrew was born in Middlesex and studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Geoffrey Mitchell.
Andrew's operatic engagements include appearances with the Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Operas, the Aldeburgh and Almeida Festivals and BBC Proms. Foreign engagements include Staatsoper Berlin, Komische Oper Berlin, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper, Nationaltheater Mannheim, Theater an der Wien, Teatro La Fenice, Opéra National du Rhin, Teatro Real Madrid, Teatro Sao Carlos Lisbon, Grand Theatre de Genève, De Vlaamse Opera, Graz Opera, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, RIAS Kammerchor Berlin, Bielefeld, Australia, Canada and Mexico and the Vienna, Dresden, Bregenz, Batignano and Montepulciano Festivals. His repertoire includes Gluck’s ORPHÉE ET EURYDICE, Arsamenes XERXES, title role ORLANDO, Athamas SEMELE, Andronico TAMERLANO, title role in Leonardo Vinci’s ARTASERSE Sorceress and Second Witch DIDO AND AENEAS, Grace VENUS AND ADONIS, Ottone AGRIPPINA, Nero and Nutrice L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA, Oberon A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Orlofsky DIE FLEDERMAUS, Edgar LEAR, Adschib in Henze’s L’UPUPA, Omar DEATH OF KLINGHOFFER, Bishop Baldwin GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT, Prince Go-Go LE GRAND MACABRE, Vyasemskaya / Pleasant Voice / Proletarian A DOG’S HEART and Pleasure in Gerald Barry’s TRIUMPH OF BEAUTY. He has taken part in many world premieres including Olga Neuwirth’s BÄHLAMMS FEST and LOST HIGHWAY, James in Birtwistle’s THE LAST SUPPER and Snake Priestess THE MINOTAUR, White Rabbit and March Hare in Unsuk Chin’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Nuñez’ MÄRCHEN, Liza Lim’s THE NAVIGATOR, Ian McQueen’s LINE OF TERROR, Guarnieri’s MEDEA, LOST OBJECTS for Bang on a Can, Dimitri Smirnov’s THE LAMENTATIONS OF THEL, Raymond Yiu’s THE ORIGINAL CHINESE CONJUROR, Camille in Michael Finnissey’s THÉRÈSE RAQUIN, Judith Weir’s MISS FORTUNE and THE OUTCAST and Ferdinand in Torsten Rasch’s THE DUCHESS OF MALFI ..

Andrew Watts’ concert engagements include appearances with BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Los Angeles and Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestras, Niew Ensemble, Klangforum, at the Salzburg, Lucerne, Lausanne, Cernier and Edinburgh Festivals, Vienna, New York, Budapest, Seville, Paris, Cologne, Brussels, France, Australia and Italy. Repertoire includes JUDAS MACCABEUS, JEPHTHA, SOLOMON., MESSIAH, ST. JOHN PASSION, Bach MAGNIFICAT, THE INDIAN QUEEN, Charpentier TE DEUM the world premieres of Unsuk Chin’s CANTATRIX SOPRANICA, Birtwistle’s ORPHEUS ELEGIES and THE SHADOW OF NIGHT, Oscar Strasnoy’s L’INSTANT, works by Guarnieri and Manzoni and Olga Neuwirth’s, HOMMAGE A KLAUS NOMI, LA VIE…ULCERANT and FIVE DAILY MINIATURES. He features on recordings for ASV of Boyce’s ODE FOR ST CECILIA’S DAY and DAVID’S LAMENTATION with the Hanover Band and was heard in Sally Potter’s film ORLANDO. He broadcasts regularly and television appearances include a cameo as Kathleen Ferrier in WILLIAM AND MARY.

Engagements in 2013 include THE MINOTAUR for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, A DOG’S HEART at La Scala, Milan, LE GRAND MACABRE for the Komische Oper, Berlin, Birtwistle’s GAWAIN at the Salzburg Festival and DER MEISTER UND MARGARITA in Hamburg. Subsequently he will return to Hamburg for LEAR, the Komische Oper for HANSEL UND GRETEL and English National Opera for a world premiere.

Adrian Peacock

1984 - 1989
See this article for information about Adrian

Dave Howells

1979 - 1983

Dave Howells founded Yateley Choral Society and led it through its early years. Dave has recently returned to his native Wales where he has become the conductor of Pembroke's Quaynotes Choir See this article from Pembroke Today, March 2013.