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Who’s who?

DIRECTOR OF MUSIC – ALEXANDER KNIGHT

Alexander Knight is Director of Music and Organist at St Mary Magdalene, Richmond and Musical Director of Canbury Singers. He currently studies organ performance at the Royal College of Music with David Graham and Andrew Dewar. Alexander previously held posts at Southwark Cathedral as Harry Coles Organ Scholar, Queens’ College, Cambridge as Organ Scholar, and St Mary’s Whitchurch as Director of Music & Organist. Alexander read for a music degree at the University of Cambridge between 2012 and 2015. With Queens’ College Choir, Alexander toured and performed in Hong Kong, Paris, Budapest and Switzerland, and featured on the CD ‘For The Wings of a Dove’. At Cambridge, he also performed with CUMS Chorus, conducted by Sir Stephen Cleobury.

Alexander’s career as a frequent recitalist and accompanist has continued to flourish since leaving university. He has featured as Répétiteur for the Scheggino Opera Summer School and City Lit Opera Course, Musical Director for Maldon Festival’s Gilbert & Sullivan production of ‘Trial by Jury’ and Harpsichordist for the Bach ‘B minor mass’. His role as an accompanist has seen him collaborate with a range of musicians and groups, including Reading Bach Choir, conducted by David Young, Reverie Choir, St John’s Beaumont School, Ewell Castle School and the Honourable Artillery Company Band.

Alexander’s recent organ recital venues include St Paul’s Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral, St George’s Hanover Square and Westminster Abbey. He has studied piano with Nigel Pitceathly, organ with David Thomas at Llandaff Cathedral and William Whitehead, conducting with Andrew Arthur and Paul Brough, and singing with Colin Baldy and Paul Plummer. In 2018, Alexander was awarded his Associateship diploma of the Royal College of Organists, winning the Sawyer/Durrant, Sowerbutts/Durrant and Samuel Baker Prizes.

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ASSISTANT ORGANIST – KARL DORMAN

Karl (b. 1982) is Organist for the College of the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon. The College is affiliated to the Church of the Sacred Heart, Edge Hill and undertakes all its major liturgies there accompanied by the recently restored 50 stop 1912 Walker organ.

In April 2019 Karl joined the music staff of Richmond Parish Church (St. Mary Magdalene). This listed church maintains a highly traditional pattern of worship in which music reflects a commensurate status and combines it with a competent standard of choral embellishment. He was concurrently recruited as an accompanist to the New Tottenham Singers.

Karl began his training as a chorister at Rugby Parish Church under the leadership of Arnold Pugh. He was later selected to be the Organ Scholar at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick. He also received much support from Peter Crook, George Bevan and the Rugby School Music Department. Karl was awarded an Eric Thompson Trust scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Patrick Russill and Nicholas Kynaston. Whilst a student at the RAM he was winner of the United Music Publishers Organ Ensemble Prize. Karl concluded his studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire.

In September 2005 he succeeded Kerry Beaumont as a Deputy Organist at Guildford Cathedral where regularly he deputised for the then Sub Organist, David Davies, under the leadership of Stephen Farr. Sadly a period of poor health meant he had to resign this post. He was simultaneously appointed Organist & Director of Music at Merton Parish Church. After a short break his health was restored and he returned to this post and enjoyed it hugely engaging in several choir tours in the UK and Germany as well as conducting two professionally produced recordings.

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ORGAN SCHOLAR – BARNABY SILVERSTONE

Barnaby is an aspiring organist from West London currently studying his first year at the Royal College of Music where he studies organ with David Graham and Charlie Andrews.

Barnaby started playing the organ in 2019 at St. Mary’s Osterley where he first began playing morning services on Sunday mornings. Since coming to St. Mary Magdalene as organ scholar in 2021 Barnaby has refined his accompanying skills under Karl Dorman and Alex Knight, he has also enjoyed exploring the choral and organ works of British composers such as Kenneth Leighton and Herbert Howells. Over the last three years Barnaby has had the opportunity to play the organs of Winchester Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral and Christchurch Priory.

Aside from the organ, Barnaby regularly sings with the University of London Church Choir across Cathedrals in the UK, and has also enjoyed playing recorder in the National Youth Recorder Orchestra. More recently Barnaby was privileged to play the recorder in award winning composer Ashley Thompson’s theatre production ‘Greenwood Dreams’ in collaboration with the Claybody Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Away from the world of classical music, Barnaby has interests in long distance running, world geography and barbershop singing.

 

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SOPRANO CHORAL SCHOLAR – FRAN STAFFORD

Fran recently completed her postgraduate diploma in vocal studies at the Royal College of Music, as well as postgraduate studies in music performance at Royal Holloway University. She studied Psychology for her degree at Royal Holloway University of London, where she sang as a choral scholar. There she trained and performed with The King’s Singers, Eric Whitacre, and recorded 3 Albums with Hyperion. She performed as a scholar and soloist in leading UK concert venues and has toured across Europe. Notably she sang in the Royal Albert Hall’s 2015 Festival of Remembrance, broadcasting live on BBC1, and at the Festival for the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, attended by The Royal Family and the Prime Minister. Fran has made appearances on BBC Radio 3 with the Britten Sinfonia, the Choir of Royal Holloway, and the Jazz Trio Acoustic Triangle. She also sang in the UK premier of Sir James Macmillan’s St. Luke Passion, performed in London’s Barbican Hall, and broadcast live from King’s College, Cambridge.

Fran has enjoyed performing at festivals, as a recitalist and on the opera stage. She was awarded the Festival Cup for the most promising vocalist by Marlow festival of Music and Drama and then won the Oxford Music Festival Song Recital award and sponsorship. She was invited to develop her classical singing with British Youth Opera, and since then has enjoyed singing the role of Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro for Matchbox Opera in 2020, and is now looking forward to singing Alice for Opera Alegria’s production of Rossini’s Count Ory in January 2022.

Between studies, Fran has shared her passion for music through her role as radio presenter of Choice Classics on Marlow fm. Her programmes explore varied themes such as space, gothic tales, and mythology. She also enjoyed working with the talented young singers at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in her role of director of their 2019 senior production, Sweeney Todd, a work she knows well having before played Mrs Lovett with Royal Borough Youth Opera.

Off the performance platform, Fran plays football, goes climbing, and is kept on her toes by her spaniel puppy, Joe. She is seen daily sprinting in short bursts across the park, waving chicken pieces and making odd noises practice his recall.

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JUNIOR SOPRANO CHORAL SCHOLAR – EVA GOWEN

Currently a year 12 student, Eva is studying English, History, Chemistry, and Physics at St Paul’s Girls’ School where she has held a music scholarship award for nearly 6 years and leads the cello section of their symphony orchestra. She studies cello at RCM JD with Michal Kaznowski and is a member of their chamber choir. Eva studies voice with Rachel Shannon and she loves singing anything written by Howells or Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, a composer she recently discovered while on the Rodolphus Choral Course at Eton. As well as singing and playing the cello, Eva composes at RCM and plays piano, participating, in 2020, in a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford by playing a movement of one of his 12 sonatas. This year, she will be playing Lord Byron in her school’s Christmas Opera about Ada Lovelace. In her free time, Eva enjoys gardening, hiking, and quilting.

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ALTO CHORAL SCHOLAR – ISADORA SZYMANSKI

Isadora has completed her A Level studies in German, English and Classical Greek at St Paul’s Girls’ School, where she was a member of Paulina Voices choir, and is now taking a gap year before university.

In July 2022 Isadora completed her ARSM Diploma in Singing with Distinction. She was a member of award-winning choir Vox Celestes during her attendance at Nonsuch High School for Girls, having competed at and won awards at Sutton, Godalming, Woking, and Reigate & Redhill Music Festivals. Competing on her own, Isadora has also won awards at the Sutton Music Festival in 2017 and 2018. She has also been part of performances at the Epsom Playhouse with Laine Theatre Arts which have involved singing in an ensemble and musical theatre capacity.

When not performing, Isadora pursues writing poetry & fiction and learning new languages.

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TENOR CHORAL SCHOLAR – ALEXANDER LEDSHAM

Now based in Southwest London, Alex Ledsham was active for many years on the Cambridge music scene, where he sang with the Chapel Choir of Emmanuel College, with whom he performed such works as Mozart Requiem (Tenor soloist) and Verdi Requiem as part of the Hampstead Festival, in addition to the regular Thursday and Sunday services. He also sang with St John’s Voices, the mixed voice choir of St John’s College, singing evensong on Mondays in St John’s Chapel as well as taking part in orchestral concerts performing such works as Handel’s Messiah (Tenor soloist) and Heinrich Schutz Weihnachtshistorie (Evangelist), as well as taking part in the choir’s debut recording (for the NAXOS label), a CD of Choral music by the Welsh composer William Matthias.  Now active on the London music scene, Alex is now the Michael Carroll Scholar with the Choir of St Mary Magdalene, Richmond-upon-Thames, in addition to being the Tenor scholar with West London Chorus. Alex’s passion is Early Music, and he is delighted to be performing a solo aria in tonight’s concert; he is also undertaking a couple of research projects transcribing and editing Baroque Operas, with his focus on music written for the Italian Tenors Annibale Pio Fabri and Antonio Barbieri. Recent engagements have included being the Tenor Section Leader on the Florence International Singing Programme in August of this year, as well as deputising for Platinum Consort’s Choral Workshop in September.

 

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BASS CHORAL SCHOLAR – ELLIOT THOMPSON

Elliot Thompson is a music teacher working in primary schools across London, having previously worked as a communications consultant specialising in the cultural and creative industries and across the arts and classical music sectors. He is currently completing a Masters in Music (MMus) at King’s College, London, having graduated with a BA in Music from the University of Cambridge in 2014.

As an undergraduate, Elliot was a choral volunteer with the Choirs of Jesus College, Cambridge, with whom he toured to the U.S.A. and India, among other countries, and recorded multiple CDs on the Signum label. Musical highlights include performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion under Mark Williams and Act III of Parsifal under Sir Mark Elder He was also president of Homerton College Music Society, conducting the college orchestra among other duties.

Music has always been a large part of Elliot’s life. He was a chorister at Westminster Abbey, during which time he sang in many concerts and special services, before attending Westminster School as a Music Scholar.

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