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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. Secular music has always played an important part in his life, he has been singing and playing with church and school choirs from a very young age.

Primarily a singer, recorder player and pianist, Barnaby has been learning the organ since 2019 at St Mary’s Osterley where he regularly played, and has made swift progress at St. Mary Magdalene Richmond under Karl Dorman, and has since been able to play the organs of Winchester Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral and Christchurch Priory.

Aside from the organ, Barnaby has also sung at many Cathedrals across the UK with the University of London Church Choir and The Whyte Effect choir, as well as playing regularly with the National Youth Recorder Orchestra, where he has been tutored by Annabel Knight. More recently he has played the recorder in award winning composer Ashley Thompson’s theatre production ‘Greenwood Dreams’ with the Claybody Theatre. Barnaby also learnt and played the piano at his secondary school Twyford C of E High School, where he did occasional accompaniment.

Barnaby is currently in his first year of a music degree at Royal Holloway University where he plays first study organ.

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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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COUNTER-TENOR CHORAL SCHOLAR – WILL KEELER

Will began singing in a choral setting in his home town, later city, as a chorister at Chelmsford Cathedral where he gained a wealth of experience under conductor, singer and composer Peter Nardone and later under current Organist and Master of the Choristers, James Davy. Throughout his time in the Cathedral Choir, he was exposed to a wide range of music and had the opportunity to perform in a variety of concerts. After his fifth and final year, he left the choir and his post as head chorister to explore other creative paths, during which time, he sang as a member of the senior choir at New Hall School which he attended from 2012 until 2019.

Fast forward several years, Will contacted his old Organist and Master of the Choristers, James Davy, to help him prepare for his A level recital, where he suggested that Will apply for a choral scholarship as a countertenor to occupy his gap year. Even with relatively little experience as a countertenor prior to his audition, Will decided to give it a go.  After successfully auditioning, he returned to Chelmsford Cathedral as a member of the back row and found himself very comfortable singing as a countertenor until the arrival of the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic.

Will has not been able to sing much choral music recently so he is thrilled to be singing in a choral setting once more at St Mary Magdalene as he has not been part of a choir since the abrupt ending of his last choral scholarship (and hopefully he’ll get to the end of this one!).

Aside from singing, Will also enjoys playing his viola in his spare time and has a real interest and passion for cocktail mixology and flair and bodyboarding. It might interest you to know that he is also quite an accomplished, all-round performer and has performed in a range of settings from an early age. He has studied Classical Ballet, Tap, Hip-hop, Commercial and Jazz dance among other styles for many years.  He is an avid lover and performer of Musical Theatre and acting and has had some experience performing professionally as a child on TV, in the West End and on tour. His credits include: The Sound of Music as Friedrich (UK tour, produced by Bill Kenwright,2015), Richard III as Duke of York (Trafalgar Studios, Jamie Lloyd Productions, 2014), Singin’ in the Rain as Young Cosmo (Palace Theatre, Choreographed by Andrew Wright 2012), Original West End cast of Matilda the Musical as Nigel (Cambridge Theatre, Directed by Matthew Warchus, 2011-2012), Priscilla Queen of the Desert as Benji (Palace Theatre, directed by Simon Phillips, 2010-2011), Eastenders as Colin (BBC, 2008).

Will aims to return to his roots as a performer of the stage and screen as his career progresses. He is currently in his second year of training at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom studying Musical Theatre.

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TENOR CHORAL SCHOLAR – ALEXANDER LEDSHAM

A graduate of Anglia Ruskin University, Alex Ledsham is a highly experienced singer, both as a soloist and ensemble singer. Currently based in Cambridge, Alex sang with the Chapel Choir of Emmanuel College for three years, and St John’s Voices – the mixed voice choir of St John’s College for five years. In 2019 he was privileged to take part in St John’s Voices’ first commercial CD recording (for the NAXOS label) – a CD of Choral music by the Welsh composer William Mathias. He also regularly deputises with choirs both in Cambridge and further afield.

Alex has experience of singing a wide range of music (from Early Medieval Music through to Contemporary music), but his specialism and the music he feels most at home in, is Early Music. Alex’s oratorio work includes; The Evangelist in Heinrich Schütz’s Weihnachtshistorie; excerpts from Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven’s Mass in C, and his operatic roles include; Don Curzio in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

In addition to being the Tenor Scholar with the Choir of St Mary Magdalene, Richmond, Alex also holds a scholarship with Chiswick Choir and was previously the Tenor Scholar with the Choir of St Mary’s, Battersea. Alex has a particular interest in Baroque opera, and is currently undertaking a couple of research projects – researching, transcribing and editing music written for specific tenors of the Baroque Period, with his current focus being on music written for the Italians Annibale Pio Fabri and Antonio Barbieri. Outside of music, Alex has an interest in cooking, is an avid player of board and card games, and a keen historian.

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