Conductors we have worked with
Choral conducting and singing have been at the core of the musical career of Derek Harrison. He has directed all sizes of choirs from a handful to over 850 – the latter in four performances with Joint Herts Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall (Britten War Requiem, Mahler Symphony No 8, Verdi Requiem, Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts). He has founded and directed several chamber choirs and has been Musical Director of the Hertford Choral Society for many years. He enjoys “pushing boundaries” such as devising choral concerts of wide ranging repertoire with steel band, saxophone choir, percussion ensemble, brass band, jazz trio and accordion quintet – but not all at the same time!
Derek began singing as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral. At Oxford he was Organ Scholar at St Edmund Hall and sang with the Clerkes of Oxenford. While there he gained a music degree and the FRCO diploma. For many years after that, Derek was the main singer (and bass rebec player) with the St George’s Canzona – a much recorded and influential small group specialising in Medieval and early Renaissance music. The group was directed by a founder member of Musica Reservata from which several other ensembles were also established.
Amongst other activities, he examined for ABRSM until recently; is a lay clerk in St Albans Cathedral, is President of the East Herts Church Choirs Association and enjoys playing the organ for services and occasional recitals.
“Carillon is a well-run choir which very successfully manages the approach of having different directors for each concert. The mix of a number of longer term members and people looking to join for the first time demonstrates the confident and forward looking ethos of the choir. It is always a pleasure to be asked to direct the choir for all of these reasons and also for their enthusiasm and interest in performing a wide range of repertoire.”
A fascination with the fusion of words and music started when David was a chorister at Newcastle Cathedral, and has grown throughout his musical life. He sang in the Schütz Choir for Roger Norrington and the Monteverdi Choir. He currently sings with Vox Musica in the UK and abroad and was a Lay Clerk in St Albans Cathedral Choir where he sang for many years. He was founder and director of the Hardynge Choir and the Fayrfax Consort and directs Musica Deo Sacra in Tewkesbury Abbey every summer. He taught at St Albans School and retired as Senior Master in 2004. He sings with Vox Coelestis and directs and sings with the Fayrfax Consort which now does concerts with around eight voices. He conducted the first performances of the community opera Alban in St Albans Cathedral and in London. He has conducted for St Albans Chamber Opera since 1985. He is delighted to be bringing Schütz to Carillon and their audience again!
“I enjoy my rehearsals and concerts with Carillon as they are a very sociable group, prepared to take on a wide variety of periods and styles and are ready to be challenged with interesting music. I have done a number of first performances with them and also involved instrumentalists from baroque bands (a concert with James Bowman) to wind quintets, pianists, organists and even handbells. If you are looking for some enjoyable singing I recommend Carillon to you.”
Neil is a music graduate of Clare College, Cambridge. Whilst there he made his London South Bank debut as the tenor soloist in Britten’s song-cycle Winter Words. He also became a founder member of The Sixteen choir before being invited to join the internationally acclaimed BBC Singers, with whom he has performed a huge and demanding repertoire of every style and period, and broadcast from venues all over the world. Neil has worked regularly with Atherton, Boulez, Berio, Andrew Davis, Gardiner, Noseda, Rattle, Tortelier and many other leading conductors.
As a soloist on radio, Neil has performed roles as various as The Narrator in Heiner Goebbles’s La Jalousie, with chamber ensemble Lontano, and Chaplitsky in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, with the BBC Philharmonic. Equally at home in standard repertoire as in challenging contemporary works, he received particular recognition in the Baroque field as a soloist in The Sixteen’s recording of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.
In a developing part of his versatile music career, Neil has been given a role at the forefront of the education outreach programme of the BBC Singers, both conducting them regularly in concert and leading sessions with youth choirs, school groups and adult choirs. He particularly enjoys working with talented and enthusiastic amateur singers, both as Music Director with a number of choral groups.
“The enjoyment for me of conducting Carillon is in the speed of learning a whole range of repertoire and the enthusiasm and hard work that the singers bring to each project. This has resulted in some excellent music-making.”
Deborah Miles Johnson
Deborah combines a career as a singer with that of a vocal coach and conductor. A former member of the BBC Singers and The Sixteen, she has long experience of choral singing. As a result, she has coached most of the big London choirs, in particular the BBC Symphony Chorus and has conducted workshops and master classes all over the UK and in the Czech Republic, USA, Hong Kong and Australia.
She is also Chorus Master for Chelsea Opera. As a singer she has sung in concert halls all over the world and worked with most of the world’s leading conductors. She has made many commercial recordings and her diverse musical life includes recording the backing music for some of the best known films of recent years.
“I have always enjoyed conducting Carillon; their responsiveness to the music and enjoyment of singing is palpable which I find so inspiring. The musicianship is excellent, the blend of voices is beautiful – and they round it all off with a great sense of humour!”
After a 25-year career in St Albans Cathedral, St Albans School and St Albans Symphony Orchestra, Andrew has enjoyed since 2001, a tripartite freelance career as conductor, organist, and composer.
In addition to his annual privilege of conducting Carillon, he regularly directs Ely Choral Society, Cambridgeshire Choral Society, and Wymondham Symphony Orchestra, and Ely Choral Society’s Youth Choir, now well established in the cultural life of the city.
Andrew has maintained strong links with cathedral music since 2001, and has worked as Acting Assistant Organist at the Cathedrals in Ely, Canterbury, Wakefield, Southwell, Bury St Edmunds, Peterborough, and Rochester, and as acting Director of Music at Ely in 2006. Andrew continues to be invited to play as organ soloist or accompanist, recently appearing in Hampstead, St Albans Abbey, Peterborough Cathedral, and St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich.
His compositions, both sacred and secular, have been performed in venues from Portsmouth to Philadelphia to St Petersburg. His Nocturne for Orchestra, commissioned by WSO for the orchestra’s 30th anniversary, was premiered by the orchestra last July, and new church music will be published and performed later this year. He has recently edited The Ely Carol Book, a collection of carols by living composers performed in recent years by ECS.
“I always look forward to another opportunity to conduct Carillon. The capability and experience of the choir is such that I have confidence that my programmes will receive from the singers all the enthusiasm and skill that they demand. In the short weeks leading up to a concert, we work hard together to bring the best performances for the audience to enjoy.”