Welcome to the Music Department of the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook
The School’s dedication to musical excellence is apparent by its investment in a £3.6 million state-of-art music school which houses a 200 seat recital hall as well as practice and specialist rooms for learning. The cathedral-proportioned chapel has a magnificent four manual romantic organ and a smaller two manual “classical” instrument with seating for a thousand people. The singing at the School known as the “Holbrook Sound” is widely known. The chapel choir of over a hundred pupils perform regularly at St Paul’s Cathedral, St Martin in the Fields and the Royal Albert Hall, performed at the John Rutter Christmas celebration concerts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under his direction and in November this year will be singing at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance broadcast on BBC television and radio. The Band performed at the opening of the National Maritime Museum 75th Anniversary exhibition in the presence of HM the Queen and has recently returned from a tour of South Africa. Other major ensembles in the School performing regularly in many evening and lunchtime concerts include the orchestra, chamber choir, barber shop group and jazz band.
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Department Staff Profiles
WILLIAM SAUNDERS – DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
William Saunders is an accomplished musician with a growing reputation as an organist and conductor. He is currently Head of Academic Music at The Royal Hospital School, Holbrook and prior to this was Assistant Director of Music at Ipswich School, one of his responsibilities being Director of the annual Festival of Music. He is engaged in an extensive organ recital programme which has recently taken him to Westminster Abbey, Wells Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral. He annually tours Northern Germany, and has given recitals in Hamburg and Cologne Cathedrals and at St. Marien zu Lübeck.
At school in Suffolk, he won the Chamber Music Ensemble Class in the National Festival of Music for Youth. While being taught organ by James Parsons, he took up organ scholarships at Sheffield Cathedral and Sheffield University where he read music and graduated with first class honours in 2003. During his time at Sheffield, he conducted the University Choral Society. On his return to Suffolk, he was appointed Organist of St Mary-le-Tower Ipswich and Deputy Organist at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Recitals at the Cambridge Summer Music Festival and Oundle International Festival were followed by his first performances in Germany. This exposure led to recordings on the Regent Records label: Dignity and Impudence (St Mary’s Redcliffe), Tower Power (St Mary-le-Tower), and Animal Parade (Brentwood Cathedral).
The Organists Review made Dignity and Impudence Editor’s Choice – “William’s playing is quite astounding: musicality, flawless technique and mind-boggling organ management.” The Gramophone Magazine wrote that William’s latest CD had “rhythmically vital and athletically inclined playing…exudes bright cheer and happiness; and you can’t say that about every organ recording”.
He is regularly organ tutor for the Royal College of Organists and in July 2011 established the Keys, Hands, Feet and Pipes Education Organ Project which played to 1300 primary school children in one day.
In November 2012 he conducted the Chapel Choir at The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall, in the presence of HM The Queen and members of the Royal Family, which was broadcast on BBC radio and television.
ALICE REIDY – ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
Prior to her appointment as Assistant Director of Music at Royal Hospital School Alice taught music at Northgate High School in Ipswich for six years. During her time at Northgate she developed a strong culture of singing in the school, directing the Chamber Choir and other vocal groups, with performances at a variety of events and venues such as Snape Maltings Concert Hall.
Alice grew up in Suffolk and went to Woodbridge School. Following this she attended The University of Nottingham and graduated with a BA Honours in Music. She then studied for a PGCE at The University of Cambridge. During her time at Nottingham she was a choral scholar at St. Barnabus Cathedral and a regular soloist, performing at the cathedral and alongside the university Chamber Choir and Choral Society. Past solo performances include Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’, Stravinsky’s ‘Les Noces’, Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and Rossini’s ‘Petite Messe Solennelle’. Alice Reidy has studied singing with Pamela Cook, director of the world renowned choir ‘Cantamus’ and has more recently received tuition from Claire Weston, former soloist with English National Opera. Alice was a member of ‘The National Youth Choir of Great Britain’ for six years and participated in the world tour of 2003, travelling to Australia, Samoa, New Zealand and Singapore. She also plays clarinet, alto saxophone recorder and piano, obtaining Grade 8 in four of these instruments whilst at school.
OLIVER MORRIS – CROMPTON ORGAN SCHOLAR
Oliver was formerly organist at St Mary’s Church East Bergholt, a position gained at the age of 15. He attended Ipswich School where he was organ scholar and in his final year accompanied the Chapel Choir both at home in the school chapel and abroad, at several services in St Mary le Tower, Ipswich and a memorable evensong at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He studied organ with James Thomas and David Sanger, and singing with Richard Edgar-Wilson, and has given several recitals, including one for the Ip-Art Festival in 2011, while still at school, and numerous events organized by the Suffolk Organists’ Associations. He is particularly interested in the organ music of JS Bach and Messiaen, and outside the organ loft enjoys cycling, hillwalking and a good book.
ROGER JONES – BANDMASTER
Started playing the piano at the age of seven. On joining the Royal Marines Band Service in 1967 was taught the clarinet and violin, achieving a grade V on violin in 18 months. On completion of the Bandmasters course in 1980 and gaining an ARCM in Military Band Conducting was appointed to HMS Invincible as the Volunteer Band Bandmaster when the ship travelled to the Far East on an eight month deployment. Attained the rank of Warrant Officer 1st Class at the age of thirty four in 1986 and Corps Bandmaster in 1988. Was appointed Bandmaster at the Royal Hospital School in 1991. Since that time have taken the school band on nine overseas tours to the Netherlands, France, South Africa twice, Canada, Malta, Sri Lanka and the USA twice in addition to many high profile venues in the UK.
DOMINIC PECKHAM – HEAD OF SINGING
Dominic is regarded as one of the UK’s finest young conductors and an ambassador of choral music both in performance and through his critically acclaimed educational work. He is Artistic Director of The Royal Opera House’s ‘RM19’, Assistant Musical Director of The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Artistic Director and Founder of iSingUK – The Schools Workshop Programme, Director of The Ulster Youth Training Choir and Patron and Principal Guest Conductor and Adjudicator of The Voice Festival UK. In demand at home and abroad as a conductor, choral specialist, adjudicator, workshop director, presenter, vocal collaborator and consultant for a variety of ensembles and choral training programmes, he was guest Vocal Director BBC Choir of the Year, Consultant of Trinity Guildhall Teaching Programme and Guest Speaker for ‘Sing Up’. Dominic’s previous conducting positions include Musical Director of The Edinburgh Singers (with which he recorded extensively), The Merchant Voices, Edinburgh Youth Choir, Chorusmaster and Associate Conductor of 2×2 Opera, Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Youth Chorus, Guest Musical Director of The National Youth Training Choir of Scotland and Assistant Chorusmaster for The Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In recent years Dominic has been commended by reviews haling him “a lithe and modern Handelian..” and “a latent star..”. Subsequently he has worked with The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The British Federation of Youth Orchestras, Scottish Opera and marked his debut at The Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican, Birmingham Symphony Hall, The Usher Hall, The Bridgewater Hall and The Wigmore Hall. He has prepared performances for Stephane Deneve, Richard Hickox OBE, Bernard Labadie, Simon Halsey, Christopher Bell, Vassily Sinaisky, Sir David Willcocks, Lorin Maazel, Stefan Bevier and John Rutter CBE. Keen to promote and support new music, Dominic has conducted several world premiers, most notably Oliver Searle’s “Pride, Poverty and Pianos” for The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Himself a composer and arranger, Dominic’s own pieces have received attention across the globe. His most recent premiers including ‘Mash’d’ for The National Youth Jazz Collective and The National Youth Training Choir of Great Britain (The Barbican) and “Star Spangled” for The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain’s ‘WorldSong!’ (The Royal Albert Hall). In recent years Dominic has appeared as Guest Director of Londinium Voices (Natural History Museum, London), Chorusmaster for Howard Goodall’s ‘Eternal Light’ (Birmingham Symphony Hall) and Mahler’s Symphony No.3 for Vassily Sinaisky (Bridgewater Hall), Director and Presenter of ‘Olympic Voices’ (Ipswich Corn Exchange) and since 2009 he has been Director and Arranger of ‘The Big Sing’ events for Music for Youth National Festival. Dominic relishes the chance to collaborate, whatever the occasion and has worked in partnership with Pete Churchill, Cleveland Watkiss, The Swingle Singers and Suzi Digby. In 2012 he was invited to develop ‘Fused’ – The Royal Opera House Inaugural Choral Festival which is to return this year.
Recent engagements include: Musical Director of “DownBow” - a collaboration with World Beat-Boxing Champion ‘Schlomo’ in a unique compositional project as part of the “Hitchcock Season” from The British Film Institute (RichMix Theatre), The Coca-Cola Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival Awards, Monteverdi’s ‘Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610’ for the 30th Anniversary celebrations of The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (The Royal Albert Hall), and Workshop Director for The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s Winter Residency. Future engagements include a centenary recording of Benjamin Britten’s Choral and Organ works (Delphian Records), Visiting Director for The 2013 Eton Choral Courses, The National Music for Youth Festival 2013 (Southbank Centre), a vocal collaboration with The Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne and The Chris Brubeck Jazz Quartet and a unique choral celebration of Verdi and Wagner for The Royal Opera House ‘Deloitte Ignite’ Festival with The BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus.
Instrumental lessons each week are given by full-time members of the music department, but the vast majority are given by an excellent team of Visiting Music Teachers. These teachers are self-employed and organise their own timetables and billing arrangements. However, the work that they do is integral to the life of the music department.
VISITING MUSIC TEACHERS
Rod Caird – Bagpipes
Rod started learning the bagpipes in 1963 at Trinity College, Glenalmond, where the band was an indoor alternative to the CCF on a Wednesday afternoon. Like all pipers, he is still learning.... Meanwhile he teaches at four schools, play solo bagpipes on all sorts of occasions and celebrations and sometimes with bands and ensembles.
Mary-Kate Ingram – Head of Strings
Mary began playing the violin at 3 and a half and later took up the viola at the age of 10. She studied at the Royal College of Music in London where she gained a BMus Hons. She plays professionally in many local and London orchestras and is a member of the successful Arioso String Quartet.
Lesley Cherry – Piano
Lesley started playing the piano at the late age of 14, gaining her grade 8 by the age of 18. She entered music college as a first study pianist and became a Graduate of Music, specialising in Teaching. After teaching and performing locally during her 3 years at college, Lesley worked in the Civil Service until more teaching opportunities came her way in various music schools. She has taught at the Royal Hospital School for 18 years.
David Bolton – Brass
David started playing the trumpet at the tender age of 8 and after studying music in Cambridge and Chichester worked in the theatre in Wales. Since moving back to Suffolk in the late 70’s he has taught Brass in the Ipswich area. He has also played with many of the local orchestra’s and music societies and has continued to work in the theatre both in the band and also as Musical Director. He is also Musical Director for the local IMU Big Band.
Anna Ter Haar – Flute
Anna achieved a First Class honours degree followed by a Masters in Flute Performance, both from TrinityLaban Conservatoire in London. She now enjoys a busy freelance career as a performing musician and teacher. She performs regularly in and around London with her chamber ensembles 'Vespertine Duo' (FL/GTR); 'Gone with the Winds' (wind quintet) as well as performing with freelance orchestras. She has performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra and broadcast for BBC Radio 2, 3, and 4.
Mary Pells – Cello
Mary studied at the Royal Academy of Music where she won prizes and awards for chamber music and gained diplomas on both cello and piano. Since then she has been in constant demand as a performer and a teacher and further studies have led to an MA in Early Music Performance in 1996. She now specialises in performance on period instruments and works for ABRSM as an examiner for both grade and diploma exams and as a mentor for other music teachers on the ABRSM's professional development courses.
Sharon Maxwell – Guitar
Sharon has been teaching and playing in schools for a number of years. She has performed in various productions on classical, electric and bass guitar crossing the boundaries from Bach to the Beatles.
Katie Smith – Singing
Katie’s first audition was at the age of 4 for the school choir. She then went on to study with Stanley Vann before reading for a music degree at Royal Holloway College and later spending a year at the Mayer-Lissman Opera centre whilst learning with Rae Woodland. She has enjoyed a varied concert career in opera, oratorio and solo recital work but now devotes her time to teaching.
Lindsay Blay – Singing
As Lindsay Gowers (singing name) she was a choral scholar at London University and a postgraduate and prizewinner at the Royal Academy of Music, and a student at the Britten Pears School. A former member of the BBC singers, she has had the opportunity to sing in venues across the UK including the Wigmore Hall, St. Martin in the Fields, the Aldeburgh Festival etc... and she took up teaching (and running ensembles) with enthusiasm about 15 years ago!
Helen Sharp – Harp
Helen has been lucky enough to play the harp with most of the major Symphony and Chamber Orchestras in the UK. She trained at the Royal College of Music and Cambridge University.
Trevor Brown – Keyboard / Piano / Saxophone
Trevor began playing piano from the age of 8 and was accepted into Her Majesty's Royal Marines Band Service in 1967. During his 29 years in the RMBS he played both piano and clarinet, graduating to principal clarinettist at the Royal Marines School of Music where he later became the Staff Music Arranger. He now enjoys composing, arranging and teaching both piano and woodwind in Suffolk.
Gerry Gillings – Percussion
Gerry started on side drum at 12 in the Boys Brigade progressing to drum kit with a local pop group. He gained further experience with a dance band, playing percussion in a brass band and orchestra whilst studying grade 8 theory and practical. He gave up his day job to teach drum kit and percussion full time in local schools and plays with the IMU Big Band, a traditional jazz band, a rock and roll group and freelance in music theatre orchestras.
Clement Cocker – Clarinet / Saxophone
Clem took up clarinet lessons aged twelve. After a period in Her Majesty’s Royal Marines band service he learnt to double on saxophone. He left on completion of twelve years service to set up a music teaching and instrument repair practice which is on-going today.
Melanie Tricker – Oboe
Mel studied at the oboe at the Royal College of Music with Sarah Francis. She gained the University of London BMus Hons degree and DipRCM and was a double oboe prize winner. Since then Mel has been a full time oboe teacher and performs regularly as a player and soloist with orchestras and ensembles, including the Siciliana Wind Quintet, Band of Oboes, and the Puffin Wind Octet.
Tom Bell – Organ
Tom Bell performs and teaches widely. A recent concert tour of the USA included a master class at the renowned Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He is based in London and is a tutor for the Royal College of Organists.