Who's who

C Dobson

President - Christopher Dobson

The President of the Choir Association of St John's College is the Master of the College, Professor Christopher Dobson. Before moving to Cambridge in 2001, he was Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Molecular Sciences at Oxford. He has also worked at Harvard University. His research over the past 30 years has involved the application of strategies and techniques in the physical sciences to address problems in the biological and medical sciences. In particular he has studied how the molecular components of living systems are able to self-assemble to generate biological activity.

Chris Dobson has been elected to Fellowships of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Recognition of the importance of his research work has also come through numerous awards including the Davy Medal of the Royal Society, the Stein and Moore Award of the Protein Society and honorary degrees in both science and medicine. Most recently he was awarded the 2014 Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics.

S Keenlyside

Honorary Patron - Simon Keenlyside

​Chorister (1967-1972) & Choral Scholar (1980-1983)

Simon Keenlyside is one of Britain's most sought after and charismatic singers, noted for his versatility and highly charged performances on stage. He has been acclaimed for Billy Budd and Prospero in the world première of Thomas Ades' 'The Tempest' at the Royal Opera House; Count Almaviva in Milan and Vienna under Muti; Don Giovanni in Ferrara under Abbado, Pelleas in San Francisco, Geneva, Paris, and most recently in Salzburg, Berlin and London under Rattle, his first Wozzeck at the Paris Opera, and Posa (Don Carlos) at the Royal Opera House under Pappano.

He has recorded 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn' under Rattle, the title role in Don Giovanni under Abbado, Carmina Burana under Thielemann, Marcello in La Bohème under Chailly, the title role in Billy Budd under Hickox, Count Almaviva under Jacobs and Papageno under Mackerras. Since appearing in recital at La Scala in 1998 he has gone on to give recitals all over the world. Simon will return to the Metropolitan Opera (Hamlet), the Royal Opera House (Macbeth) and the Viena State Opera (Macbeth, Posa and Wozzeck). For Sony BMG Simon has released an orchestral arias disc, which won the Gramophone 2007 best recital award, an operetta disc with Angelika Kirchschlager and his latest release is a recital disc with Malcolm Martineau of Brahms Lieder and Schumann's Dichterliebe.

D Pountney

Honorary Patron – David Pountney

Chorister (1956-1961)

David Pountney became internationally known through his production of Katya Kabanova at the 1972 Wexford Festival. Between 1975-80, David Pountney was Director of Production for Scottish Opera. His productions there featured a Janacek cycle in collaboration with Welsh National Opera of Jenufa, House of the Dead, The Makropulos Case, Katya Kabanova and The Cunning Little Vixen. He produced the world première of David Blake's Toussaint in 1977 at English National Opera and went on to become Director of Productions in 1980, directing over twenty operas including Rusalka, Osud, The Midsummer Marriage, Doctor Faust, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Hansel and Gretel, The Adventures of Mr Broucek and The Fairy Queen.

He has directed over ten world premieres, including two by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies for which he also wrote the libretto, and has translated many operas into English from Russian, Czech, German and Italian.

As a freelance Director from 1992 he has worked regularly in Zürich, at the Vienna State Opera, at the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich as well as opera houses in America and Japan, and in the UK has a long-standing association with Opera North and Welsh National Opera. He received a Janacek medal for his Janacek cycle in Wales and Scotland, and a Martinu medal for his productions of Julietta and Greek Passion at Opera North and the Bregenz Festival. His productions have twice won an Olivier award. He recently directed Die Soldaten for the Ruhr Festival, La Juive and Agrippina in Zurich, Khovanshchina for Welsh National Opera, Carmen at the Bolshoi, and König Roger for the Bregenz Festival where he had been Intendant (2003-2011). Future plans include Die Frau ohne Schatten in Zurich, The Passenger (Weinberg) at the Bregenz Festival and Les Troyens at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. David was made a CBE and a Chevalier in the French Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1993.

Christopher Robinson

Honorary Patron – Christopher Robinson

Director of Music (1991-2003)

Christopher Robinson was educated at Rugby and Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar. After a period as Organist and Master of the Choristers at Worcester Cathedral, where he was also conductor of several Three Choirs Festivals. Christopher Robinson moved to St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, where he was Organist and Choirmaster until 1991 when he took up the post of Director of Music at St John's. He was conductor of the Oxford Bach Choir from 1976 to 1997 and of the City of Birmingham Choir from 1964 to 2002.

As well as conducting most of the large-choir repertoire with the City of Birmingham Choir, there were also concerts of special note. For example, Christopher Robinson's expertise in and affinity for Elgar's music produced several highly praised performances of The Dream of Gerontius. In 1981 he conducted Messiaen's La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jesus Christ and in 1989 two highly acclaimed performances of Tippett's Mask of Time. The Choir gave a widely praised first performance in England of the Jacobite Rising by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

In 2003 he retired from the post of Organist and Director of Music at St John's. He holds honorary degrees from Birmingham University and the University of Central England and is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. He has been Chairman of the Elgar Society and President of the Royal College of Organists.

In 1992 the Queen bestowed on him the honour of Commander of the Victorian Order for his services at Windsor Castle, and in the summer of 2002, the Archbishop of Canterbury made him a Lambeth DMus. He became an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in Autumn 2003 and received a CBE in the 2004 New Year's Honours List.

Honorary Patron - David Hill 

Director of Music (2003-2007) 

Widely known as one of the leading choral directors in the UK, David Hill‘s fine musicianship is recognised by his appointments as Chief Conductor of The BBC Singers, Musical Director of The Bach Choir, Music Director of the Southern Sinfonia, Music Director of the Leeds Philharmonic Society, Associate Guest Conductor of The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. From July 2013 he adds Principal Conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum to his appointments.

Born in Carlisle and educated at Chetham’s School of Music, of which he is now a Governor, he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the remarkably young age of 17. Having been Organ Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge, David Hill returned to hold the post of Director of Music from 2004-2007. His other appointments have included Master of the Music at Winchester Cathedral, Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral and Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Chorus. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Southampton for Services to Music.

David Hill has a broad-ranging discography covering repertoire from Thomas Tallis to a number of world premiere recordings. As well as achieving prestigious Grammy and Gramophone Awards, many of his discs have been recommended as Critic’s Choices. His ongoing series of English choral music for Naxos has received particular acclaim including being shortlisted for the 2010 Gramophone Awards.

Hill has appeared with the BBC Symphony and BBC Philharmonic orchestras, London Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera, the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, Ulster Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, as well as the Netherlands Radio Choir and RIAS Chamber Choir, Berlin.

Chairman - Simon Robson Brown

Choral Scholar (1992-1995)

 

The Committee

Management of the Association’s activities and finances is through the elected Executive Committee which meets formally three times a year. Committee members include current members of the College, former members of the Choir and friends and are drawn from a variety of professional and business backgrounds. They work on a voluntary basis. As a College Society, the finances of the Association are overseen by the College Bursar, to maximise the use of funds. All funds other than those used in general administration are used to support the Choir and its past and present members.

  • Simon Robson Brown (Chairman/Former Choral Scholar)
  • Duncan Dormor (Dean of Chapel)
  • Andrew Nethsingha (Director of Music)
  • Caroline Marks (Choir Administrator)
  • Fiona Whelan (Choir Association Administrator)
  • Peter Lidbetter (Current Choral/Organ Scholar)
  • David Garrett (Former Chorister)
  • Martin Redfearn (Former Chorister)
  • Dominic Collingwood (Former Choral Scholar)
  • Dan Jordan (Former Choral Scholar)
  • Gillian Flinn (Supporting Member)
  • Selwyn Image (Supporting Member)
  • Anthony Bushell (St John's College School nominated Member)

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Latest webcast

Recorded on
14 August 2017

From the archives, this webcast of Choral Evensong features the first performance of Dum transisset Sabatum by Composer-in-Residence, Michael Finnissy, which was written in response to John Taverner's setting of the same text; also featured in this webcast.

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