Choir Alumni: Where are they now?
Members of Trinity College Choir study a wide range of subjects and go on to an equally-wide range of careers. Many choose to follow a career in the performing arts.
Here are just a few of them:
Paul Renney (1981-1984)
Paul Renney helped to set up the Choir of the 21st Century (CC21) in the year 2000, as a London based a cappella chamber choir to promote and perform mostly 21st century music and older music which has helped to shape more modern compositions. He was Chairman of the choir committee for the first 5 years of its existence and they perform 3/4 concerts per year usually in Central London, more recently at Holy Trinity near Sloane Square. The musical director is Howard Williams and TCCA members Paul and David Barnard sing regularly with the choir. They have made a number of acclaimed recordings, including on the SOMM label of both the Elgar and Kodály versions of The Music Makers, and have collaborated with the English Chamber Orchestra, especially in a concert for the Lord Mayor, of Beethoven's 9th Symphony in St Paul's Cathedral. Their Patron is Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and last year they performed a special birthday tribute for his 80th birthday.
Susanna Spicer (1982-1985)
The English mezzo-soprano, Susanna Spicer, was one of the first female choral scholars at Trinity College, Cambridge. Subsequently she studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London.
A highly experienced concert singer, Susanna Spicer’s solo engagements have included appearances at the Royal Festival Hall with Simon Rattle and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Igor Stravinsky's Mass and with Kurt Masur and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Debussy's Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien (both for Radio 3), at the Royal Albert Hall with David Willcocks in Messiah and Elijah, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in Ralph Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music with the English Chamber Orchestra and at the BBC Proms in Schubert's Die Verschworenen with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Nicholas McGegan. She sang in Trevor Pinnock's performances of J.S. Bach's St John Passion (BWV 245) and St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in Europe, Japan and Turkey and has performed all the major works of the oratorio repertoire in the UK's principal concert halls and cathedrals. These include Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony at Edinburgh's Usher Hall, Verdi's Requiem at the Barbican and Winchester Cathedral and L.v. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis at The Maltings, Snape. She has sung for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Kent Opera and Opera de Lyon.
Julian Podger (1987-1990)
As Julian recalls, "One hot summer's day, while still a student at Cambridge, I was standing under Trinity's Great Gate when a singer friend approached me with someone I thought must be a sort of charismatic student pop star... it was Chris Page. Within minutes he was asking me if I'd like to join [his medieval consort] Gothic Voices", the group that went on to record one of the the best-selling recordings of pre-classical music ever made: A Feather on the Breath of God - Hymns & Sequences by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen.
Julian went on to be instrumental in the development of the early music scene. Although most of his work today is as a soloist (Monteverdi, Bach - particularly the evangelists - and Handel), he stills loves consort singing and keeps it a priority in his career. Besides Gothic Voices, he performs with The Harp Consort and his own ensemble, Trinity Baroque.
Thomas Guthrie (1988-1991)
It's a little difficult to summarise the career of the polymath Thomas Guthrie: musician, singer, performer, writer and director working in classical music and theatre - he does it all! Tom began his musical training as a boy chorister under George Guest at St John’s College Cambridge. He then returned to Cambridge to read Classics at Trinity before winning a scholarship to study at the RNCM, where prizes include the Fassbaender Award for Lieder, the Schubert Prize, and an ESU scholarship to study with Thomas Allen in Chicago.
He has sung in some of the world’s most prestigious venues from New York and Bolivia to Tokyo and Sydney and appeared at the Wigmore Hall and the South Bank in London. Meanwhile he recently completed a two-year contract as Young Artist Stage Director at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Today, he's equally at home devising new theatrical and musical work, working with singers and actors, performing, singing and writing. Tom also works with non-professionals of all ages and backgrounds. Some of his most thrilling projects have been in this field, including with Streetwise Opera and the Royal Opera House, through whom he has inspired hundreds to connect with their inner Caruso and raise the roof.
Alexander Armstrong (1989-1992)
Alexander Armstrong came to Trinity College in 1989, read English and was also a member of the College Choir. He joined the Footlights in his final year as part of the writing team for the 1992 revue and was Spooks creator David Wolstencroft's comedy partner.
These days, he's better known as a comedian, actor and television presenter, and as one half of the comedy duo Armstrong and Miller, alongside Ben Miller. Alexander is also the host of the popular BBC game show Pointless. Aside from his Armstrong and Miller sketch show characters, his television credits include guest appearances in various TV series and he also voiced Professor M in Tooned and alien supercomputer Mr Smith in the Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Elizabeth Atherton (1992-1995)
Elizabeth Atherton is one of Britain’s most versatile and compelling singers performing a wide range of repertoire in both concert and opera. She read Music at Trinity College Cambridge before studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She is the winner of numerous prestigious awards and prizes including the Maggie Teyte Prize, the Handel Singing Competition, the WNO Sir John Moores Award and WNO Chris Ball Bursary.
This season and beyond Elizabeth will perform with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and BBC NOW, Britten War Requiem with the Ulster Orchestra and Jac van Steen, and her return to the Aldeburgh Festival as Medea and Euridice in Harrison Birtwistle’s The Cure (world première) and The Corridor, co-produced by the Royal Opera House.
Gabriel Crouch (1992-1995)
After completing a Choral Scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, Gabriel Crouch was offered a place in the renowned a cappella group The King's Singers in 1996. In the next eight years he made a dozen recordings on the BMG label (including a Grammy nomination), and gave more than 900 performances in almost every major concert venue in the world. Special collaborative projects saw him working and performing with some of the world's most respected artists, including percussionist Evelyn Glennie, pianists Emmanuel Ax and George Shearing, singer Barbara Hendricks and 'Beach Boy' Bruce Johnston.
Since moving to the USA in 2005, he has built an international profile as a conductor and director, with recent engagements in China and Australia as well as Europe and the United States. His achievements in the choral world have led to many invitations to adjudicate choral competitions, notably the mixed choir final of 'Sainsbury's Choir of the Year' (televised by the BBC). His work as a singer, coach and musical director has led to his name appearing in the London Times' list of 'Great British Hopes'. Currently, Gabriel Crouch is Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer in Music at Princeton University.
Cecilia Osmond (1995-1998)
The Canadian-born soprano Cecilia Osmond is heard frequently as a soloist and as a member of elite vocal ensembles. She was educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School and Trinity College where she read Music. Upon graduation from Trinity she was awarded a Travelling Studentship, enabling her to continue her vocal studies at the Royal Academy of Music with Julie Kennard and Clara Taylor.
Today, Cecilia Osmond is in constant demand as an oratorio soloist, with recent performances including Mozart’s Requiem (King's College Choir Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury), Orff’s Carmina Burana (Royal Albert Hall/Sir David Willcocks) and J S Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) (Florilegium/David Hill). Cecilia Osmond also continues to perform frequently with professional vocal ensembles such as The Sixteen, The Tallis Scholars, The King’s Consort and The Cardinall’s Musick.
Claire Wilkinson (1995-1998)
Claire grew up in a home full of Music in Manchester and gave her first solo concert at the age of 17 with Musica Antiqua of London. She went on to read Classics at Trinity College followed by postgraduate vocal studies at Trinity College London.
Since graduating, she has been much in demand, particularly for her interpretations of Baroque repertoire and performed and recorded under John Eliot Gardiner, Andrew Parrott, Richard Egarr, Daniel Reuss, Christophe Rousset and Bart Van Reyn. She also sings with Fretwork and the Rose Consort of Viols, and has appeared at many of the world’s major halls: Covent Garden, the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in the UK, and further afield the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Hong Kong Cultural Center, Washington National Cathedral, Bozar Brussels, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Cité de la Musique, Köln Philharmonie and the Lincoln Center New York amongst many others.
Amy Haworth (1996-1999)
Amy Haworth studied Music at Trinity College and was a Choral Scholar under the direction of Richard Marlow. Since then she has developed the reputation of a highly acclaimed consort singer working with many of the country’s leading vocal ensembles including The Tallis Scholars, The Cardinall’s Musick, Consortium, Ensemble Plus Ultra, and Synergy Vocals.
Susan Atherton (1996-1999)
All at Trinity College and the Choir were deeply saddened to hear that Susan's life had been tragically cut short in the summer of 2014.
Susan came up to Trinity College in 1996 to read History of Art and was a member of the Choir for three years. After graduating she was awarded the Lilian Baylis bursary to study on The Knack, ENO's part-time opera and music theatre course. She continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Music and later at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where she made her operatic debut as Ruggiero in Handel's Alcina. Susan joined the Glyndebourne chorus in 2002 and last summer she understudied the role of Ernestina in Rossini's L'Equivoco Stravagante at Garsington Opera.
Thomas Blunt (1996-1999)
Thomas Blunt studied Music at Trinity College and the Royal College of Music in London, and was the first ever British participant of the prestigious Allianz International Conductors' Academy, where he worked with the London Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras.
In August 2014 he took up the position of Erste Kapellmeister at Konzert Theater Bern. He began his career as of Chorus Master at Glyndebourne, making his conducting debut with the company a year later, with performances of L’elisir d’amore on the Tour, resulting in re-invitations to conduct Falstaff and La Cenerentola. During this time he also assisted conductors including Music Director Vladimir Jurowski.
Eddie Redmayne (2000-2003)
Eddie probably needs no introduction to most people as he's been prominent in the news and magazine covers in 2014 being tipped for an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the film, The Theory of Everything. Not that he wasn't well known before that - in 2012, he starred in the role of Marius Pontmercy in the film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (where he showed off a very fine tenor voice).
Whilst studying History of Art at Trinity College he performed with the National Youth Music Theatre, and made his professional stage debut for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Twelfth Night at the Middle Temple Hall in 2002. He won the award for Outstanding Newcomer at the 50th Evening Standard Theatre Awards (2004) for his performance in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, and the award for Best Newcomer at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards in 2005. In 2015, Eddie won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the film, The Theory of Everything.
Kate Ashby (2000-2003)
Kate enjoys a busy career as a professional singer specialising in early music. She performs with groups such as The Brabant Ensemble and Chapelle du Roi, and also regularly records film soundtracks with London Voices.
She read Music at Trinity College and after graduating, was a co-founder of the hugely successful early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico, which began life with several Trinity Choir members in its ranks, including Oliver Hunt, Tom Herford and Ali Hill. They have made eight recordings, won handfuls of awards, and toured the world. They still return to sing in Trinity Chapel each August, as part of the series run by Cambridge Early Music.
When not singing she is kept busy looking after her toddler son.
Julian Forbes (2001-2004)
Hailed by Opera Britannia for his “beautiful and bright tenor…simply oozing charisma”, Julian Forbes is a graduate of Trinity College and the Royal Academy of Music, where he took a Masters with distinction and the Charles Norman Prize. A twice-elected Britten-Pears Young Artist and a member of the 2011 European Baroque Academy, he is establishing a reputation in the UK and abroad for the musicality and intelligence of his singing across a wide repertoire spanning the 17th century to the present.
Alison Hill (2003-2006)
Ali Hill began singing as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral. In 2006 she graduated from Trinity College and has since performed, recorded and toured extensively with ensembles such as The Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardener, Polyphony under Stephen Layton, The Sixteen for Harry Christophers, Alamire for David Skinner, Tenebrae for Nigel Short, Retrospect Ensemble for Matthew Halls and Stile Antico. Ali is also a member of Galán; a soprano vocal trio with harpsichord and theorbo who have recently been made Brighton Early Music Festival’s Young Artists.
Alongside singing, Ali enormously enjoys her work as a musical assistant on courses for The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Ulster Youth Choir and Royal Schools of Church Music and she is involved in teaching choir directors and working with children in disadvantaged areas of Mumbai in India for the burgeoning charity, Songbound. When she is not singing, Ali enjoys climbing rock faces and is doing a part-time masters degree in climate change.
Tim Dickinson (2003-2006)
Tim Dickinsons life as a singer began in earnest at Westminster Abbey, where he spent six years as a chorister. Subsequently, aged 13, he was awarded a music scholarship to Eton College, where he spent five years singing with the Chapel Choir at Eton. Tim was awarded a choral scholarship to Trinity College and while at Cambridge, he showed a keen interest in a variety of musical styles and contexts, as well as being involved in a good deal of theatre.
As well as working with the Glyndebourne Chorus, Tim sings regularly with Philharmonia Voices and Polyphony, as well as a number of other London Choirs.
Since 2003, Tim has been involved in various bands and other projects outside of the classical music world. As of 2005, he has been gigging and recording with London-based rock band Enamel, who can be heard here. They have played at many venues in London and further afield, such as Carling bar Academy, Halfmoon (Putney), Café de Paris, Metro and Underworld (Camden).
Katherine Watson (2005-2008)
Katherine Watson graduated in 2008 in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from Trinity College and sung in the Choir during her time in Cambridge under the direction of Stephen Layton. Whilst at University she also sang with the Charpentier Consort, the Cambridge Clerkes and the Cambridge University Baroque Ensemble.
After graduating, she won a place on William Christie’s Le Jardin des Voix and has since sung extensively with Christie and Les Arts Florissants.
Other awards have included a young artist award with the Classical Opera Company in 2011 and the Glyndebourne John Christie 2012 award. She has worked with a number of conductors including Stephen Layton, Nicholas Kraemer, Stephen Cleobury, Jonathan Cohen, Paul Agnew, Emmanuelle Haim, Harry Bickett, Sir Roger Norrington, Laurence Cummings and Philip Pickett.
Emily Dickens (2006-2009)
Emily Dickens became a founder member of the Winchester Cathedral Girls' Choir at the age of 10 and was head chorister in her final year. In 2004 she was a finalist in the BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition. She came up to Cambridge in 2006 and graduated with a BA in Music from Trinity College in 2009. As a member of Trinity College Choir, she she enjoyed a busy schedule of concerts and recordings, and toured to Canada, Europe and California.
Upon graduating, Emily hardly drew breath to become the newest recruit of VOCES8, the international award-winning octet that has established itself as the foremost young British a cappella group performing a repertoire ranging from early polyphony to unique jazz and popular arrangements.
Christopher Lowrey (2007-2010)
Christopher Lowrey, originally from the United States, came up to Trinity College to read Music in 2007. He was a 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Finalist and 2013 National Semifinalist, a winner of the 2013-14 Sullivan Foundation Award, the London Handel Society's Michael Oliver Prize at the 2010 Handel Singing Competiton, and winner of the Rhode Island chapter of the 2005 National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. He was a finalist in the 2008 London Bach Society Competition, as well as the 2006 Fulbright Scholarship competition. He has studied with Russell Smythe, Derek Lee Ragin, Ashley Stafford, and Pierre Massé. This year, Christopher makes his Royal Opera debut in the 2014/15 Season singing Hope and Shepherd in Orfeo at the Roundhouse.
Andrew MacFarlane (2007-2010) & Edmund Irwin-Singer (2008-2011)
Drew and Edmund are members of the Indie Rock band, Glass Animals. They were contempories at Trinity and Choir members during their time at Cambridge. Whilst still at University, in 2010, they and two friends from Oxford University decided to put up some of their songs on MySpace resulting in a bunch of emails and positive feedback on the music. "It freaked us out," recalls one of the Oxford members, Joe Seaward, "So we took everything offline and decided to finish university."
After graduation, Glass Animals put their songs back online and things went from there. "We started making music, noise came out and we put it on a record," says front man and guitarist Dave Bayley. Their debut album, Zaba, was released this year.
Gwilym Bowen (2008-2011)
Born in Hereford, Gwilym Bowen is currently studying at Royal Academy Opera under Ryland Davies and Jonathan Papp, having previously graduated from the University of Cambridge with a double-First class degree in Music.
On the operatic stage, his diverse repertoire has included Pelléas Pelléas et Mélisande, Tom Rakewell The Rake’s Progress, Davey in Jonathan Dove’s Siren Song, Dwight/God Jerry Springer: the Opera, Sailor Dido & Aeneas, Intelletto in Emilio de’Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di anima e di corpo, Lysander A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Aldeburgh, Lucano & Primo Soldato L’incoronazione di Poppea for the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme and Ryedale Festival Opera, and Valletto, Primo Soldato and Highest Famigliare L’incoronazione di Poppea for the Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Centre. At RAM, roles in scenes include Ferrando Così fan tutte, Albert Albert Herring, Florville Il signor Bruschino, Smith La jolie fille de Perth, Novice Billy Budd and Leicester Maria Stuarda. Roles with RAO for the 2014-15 season include Gherardo Gianni Schicchi, Sellem The Rake’s Progress and HRH Prince Philippe A Dinner Engagement.
Amy Lyddon (2009-2012)
Mezzo-soprano, Amy Lyddon, graduated from Trinity College with first-class honours in Linguistics with French & Spanish, before achieving Distinction for her Graduate Diploma at the Royal College of Music, supported by a Helen Marjorie Tonks Scholarship, a Henry Wood Trust Award, The Kathleen Trust, The Mario Lanza Educational Foundation, The Westminster Almshouses Foundation, and The Josephine Baker Trust. Recent concerts include Bach’s Magnificat at St John's Smith Square and on BBC Radio 3 (Jeremy Summerly, Oxford Baroque) and Vivaldi's Gloria (London Mozart Players).
Forthcoming engagements include Bach's St Matthew Passion for Edward Higginbottom and the Academy of Ancient Music, and also for Jonathan Willcocks and Florilegium. Opera includes Nancy/Albert Herring for Shadwell Opera at Opera Holland Park and UK tour, Peter Grimes and Queen of Spades for Grange Park Opera Chorus, and Idamante/Idomeneo for RCM Opera Scenes. Amy features on the Gramophone Award-winning two per part recording of Mozart’s Requiem with The Dunedin Consort, and performs with many ensembles including Polyphony and Tenebrae.