Tiffin is proud to have a large number of alumni who now pursue musical careers. These musicians work in many different areas. Below is a selection of many former members of the choir. If you are an alumnus of the choir, please do get in touch via the contact page.
I went to Bonner Hill Primary School and then to Tiffin in 1954. I played Baritone Horn in George Spriggs’ Brass Band and Clarinet in Denis Bloodworth’s Orchestra. When John Walker arrived at the School to start a Choir I joined and sang tenor. In 1961 I won a Choral Scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge. I was Senior Choral Scholar in 1963-64 and went from there to New College, Oxford for a Diploma in Education and as an Academic Clerk in David Lumsden’s Choir. In 1965 I was asked to come back to Tiffin to take John Walker’s place. I ran the choirs and taught boys for Choral Scholarships to Oxbridge.
In 1974 I was offered the post of Director of Music at St. Georges School in Vancouver, Canada. After one year in Vancouver I was offered the position of Associate Professor at Western Washington State College, in Bellingham, Washington, to teach voice and run the Opera Programme. During my time at Western I continued to work in Canada as a singer and Conductor (Vancouver is only 50 miles north of Bellingham). I was appointed Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir, a Symphonic 150 voice choir working with the Vancouver Symphony. I was fortunate to to conduct all the great Choral/Orchestral repertoire, including Mahler 8th. and the Bach Passions several times. In 1983 I founded The Vancouver Bach Children’s Chorus, an educational ensemble of boys and girls in seven different choirs, with over 350 members. I was Music Director of the Bach Choir for 30 years and the children’s choirs for 25 years. After 19 years of teaching at Western, including a spell as Chairman of the Music Department, I left to become President of the Vancouver Academy of Music- a conservatory just beginning a degree programme. My job was to shepherd that process through. In 2000 I was appointed Choral Director of the University of British Columbia and established a Master’s Programme in Choral Conducting. I retired as Emeritus Professor in 2009 and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2008
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Having come through the ranks of a quintessentially British musical upbringing via Tiffin School, The Royal College of Music, and as a member of the British Youth Symphony Orchestra, Richard started composing in his early teens. After forming his first band, Gryphon, all four BBC Radio Stations featured his music in the very same week – something that has been completely unheard of, either before or since! He toured the USA and performed his own music at Madison Square Gardens, all before he was twenty. Acknowledging that that phase of his life had run it’s course, he soon turned to composition and conducting. He conducted most of the major London orchestras during his late twenties, including the London Symphony Orchestra for the extraordinary “Classic Rock” phenomenon.
Like many other current composers, he has also accepted commissions for TV and film music, and became best known for his work in this field until the turn of the millennium. His largest scale concert works at this point were the Oratorio “Plague And The Moonflower” (to a libretto by artist and Renaissance Man, Ralph Steadman) and his “Concerto Antico” written for guitarist John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra, which has gone on to become a popular favourite both on the concert platform for guitarists all over the world and on Classic FM radio in the UK. He won a BAFTA for his score for Alan Bleasdale’s epic political drama “GBH” and has four Ivor Novello nominations under his belt. Beyond that, it’s fair to say that his film and TV scores are too numerous to mention here, although last year he was honoured with an “Annie Award” for his score for the animated picture “The Little Prince”, which he co-wrote with his long standing friend and collaborator, Hans Zimmer, following on from the success of his much praised contribution to The Da Vinci Code movie featuring Tom Hanks.
Talking of friends, Richard performed as half of a duo for many years with his friend, the world’s number one classical guitarist, John Williams. Even now, post John’s official retirement, they still get together to perform in aid of the charity that Richard started, called the MAE Foundation, which introduces musical teaching and participation for children in long term refugee camp situations. He is currently completing his second folio of Choral Music to be released soon on Altus Records. His first, simply entitled “Kyrie” was Classic FM’s ‘Record Of The Week’ last summer, with John Suchet introducing a new track every day. His ‘Eventide’ from this work was also performed live on Classic FM by the Tiffin Boys’ Choir in their 60th Anniversary Concert in 2017. Later this year will also follow a unique collection of Piano Miniatures, recently recorded in the Concert Hall of the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey.
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After three years as a Choral Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge I embarked on a professional singing career. After initial success, health issues intervened, and since I had already had experience playing for opera rehearsals, and even conducting some amateur operatic productions, I was able to make a transition, landing a job as a répétiteur at the Royal Opera. A few years later I had the good fortune to be appointed as chorus master of the BBC Symphony Chorus, and did both jobs simultaneously for two or three years.
In 1989 Christoph von Dohnányi persuaded me to move to the USA, as Director of Choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra. For nine years I trained the chorus and was given many opportunities to conduct that great orchestra in symphonic and choral repertoire. I also began singing again, and even made one or two professional recordings, most notably in the title role of Monterverdi’s Orfeo.
For the last twenty or so years I have been on the conducting staff at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, assisting and understudying visiting conductors, and occasionally being allowed to conduct a performance of my own, most recently of Tosca in January, 2018. My career hasn’t followed a typical path, but I think it proves that if you are interested in many different areas of music, it isn’t absolutely necessary to focus on just one, and sometimes it is a positive advantage to have a secondary skill to fall back on.
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I’ve had a dual career as a singing civil servant for more than 30 years now. It started when I moved to Oxford to be a lay clerk at Christ Church Cathedral. The salary wasn’t quite enough to live on, so I took on a day job in the local benefit office. I thought I’d leave as singing work took up more and more time, but in fact the job was so flexible I found I could carry on. I’ve worked part-time for most of those 30 years, and together with flexi-time, home-working, generous paid leave and the option of additional unpaid leave, that’s meant I've been able to have a singing career as well as a steady job. I’ve been on tour all over Europe and North America, made over 100 recordings, and been involved in TV, film, radio, opera and concert performances as well as that staple of the London-based choral singer, church work. Singing hasn’t been a bar to career progression in the civil service – I’ve managed to get to a tolerably senior level, and I’m now head of the Welfare Expenditure Briefing Unit at the Department for Work and Pensions. I work a couple of hundred yards from Westminster Abbey – extremely convenient for when I’m deputising at evensong.
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1973 to 1979
I started at Tiffin in 1973 and, having joined the long, snaking queue of First Formers waiting outside The Range to sing one verse of “I Saw A Green Hill Far Away”, spent the next seven years singing in school choirs, the Kingston Parish Church choir and appearing in school drama productions.I went to Bristol University and carried on in the same vein, devouring all the performing arts opportunities that The University could offer. Inevitably, I suppose, I applied to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. But what to choose, music or drama? Well, the grounding in music which I received at Tiffin won over and in 1985 I began a four year singing course. On leaving Guildhall in 1989 I began my career singing in professional opera choruses and choirs (Glyndebourne and The Monteverdi Choir were very formative), moving on to understudy roles for large opera companies and sing large roles for smaller ones.
Life changed, however, when I was offered the chance in 1999 to work for eighteen months as an actor in a multi-discipline ensemble company put together by Sir Trevor Nunn at The National Theatre. Since then I have divided my time between theatre (including The RSC, Chichester Festival and The West End) and singing character roles in opera houses all over the world. This coming year will see me touring Europe with the Paris based theatre company Bouffe Du Nord as Mr Peachum in John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” and giving the world premiere of a new opera “Mamzer Bastard” for The Royal Opera at Hackney Empire.I’ve had the most varied and satisfying career (so far!) which has been the product of hard work, persistence, a certain degree of aptitude and, most importantly, a large portion of luck! The importance of being in the right place at the right time and bumping into the right people cannot be overstated!
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I left Tiffin's in 1981 having won a choral scholarship to King's Cambridge, and followed that with two years of further vocal studies at the Royal College of Music. I began singing professionally soon afterwards, initially on what might be termed the London circuit, and then as a soloist. The work took me all over the world and has been very fulfilling. After a period away from music working in law, I recently picked up the singing career once again, and perform a variety of different roles; I sing on projects for the Monteverdi Choir (recently with my direct contemporary Rob Burt), for the Gabrieli Consort, Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, and other groups. I sing consort with Opus Anglicanum, a five man group with a speaker, Zeb Soanes of BBC radio news; and I perform as a soloist. Recently I sang Butterworth's Shropshire Lad with orchestra, and shortly will sing the solos in Haydn;s Creation for the Worcester Festival Choir. I also sing for film and game soundtracks. All in all, I've had, and continue to have, a wonderful and varied life in music; the truth is, it really doesn't feel like work.
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One of several composers in his family and recipient of the Cannes Classical Award, Prix Italia, and Radio Academy BT Award, Antony Pitts was a Chapel Royal treble, Academic and Honorary Senior Scholar at New College, Oxford, Senior Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music, Senior Producer at BBC Radio 3, and is Founder-Director of British ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS and Artistic Director of Australia’s leading consort, The Song Company. Commissioned by Cheltenham Music Festival, The Clerks, King’s College London, London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Choir of New College Oxford, Oxford Camerata, Oxford Festival of Contemporary Music, Rundfunkchor Berlin, The Swingle Singers, and Westminster Cathedral Choir. Premiered at London’s Westminster Cathedral and Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Berlin’s Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal, and Sydney Opera House, and at memorials for Alexander Litvinenko. Published by 1equalmusic and Faber Music – including The Naxos Book of Carols and the 40-part motet XL. Released on Challenge Records, Delphian, Hyperion, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Novum, Signum, and Unknown Public, including a double album of Jerusalem-Yerushalayim, and radiophonic works broadcast on the BBC and across the EBU. Director of the Composer School for the 2018 Gondwana National Choral School.
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James Seymour Brett
James Seymour Brett was an active member of Tiffin Boys during the 80s. He was involved in all aspects of the music department from Choir to Orchestra. He particularly enjoyed the Christmas services with the choir and attributes a lot of his later success with composition and conducting to his formative years sight singing under David Nield and Simon Toyne. "Participating in choral activities is in no doubt one of the best ways to hone innate musical talent, and it has not been till later years that I have realised this - instinctively picking up on mistakes in a viola line, or anticipating a wrong note in the 2nd horns - all comes from those choir stalls! I got my break working hard at the Royal Academy Of Music, when my teacher was asked for a recommendation for his “best student”. I was duly put forward to work for Michael Kamen an already established Hollywood composer and I progressed from there. There is no better way in, in my view, than via assisting an already successful composer - you need skills that he/she doesn’t have, and as tech-savvy youngsters, you should have them!”
James Seymour Brett has garnered a worldwide reputation as a versatile, international talent, scoring projects in all genres and media. His style ranges from the large, upscale orchestral grandeur of Batman LIve, Walking witht the dinosaurs & Planet 51, to smaller, more intimate works such as L'histoire De Nos Petites Morts, Outpost, and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. In recent years James has enjoyed success on Network TV with two seasons of the cult drama Hex for Sky 1 and Cresoe for NBC.
In 2017 James created the score for a new ground-breaking show called Fast & Furious LIVE as well as music for Here Comes the Grump, a children’s animation. James has also collaborated with Roland Emmerich on major film work – White House Down, 2012, 10,000 BC, Anonymous and with Stephen Frears on Lay The Favourite, the latter of which demanded a quirky, Americana-style score covering rock, blues & folk genres. James has also had the opportunity to work with other renowned director’s providing all the arrangements for David Frankel’s operatic biopic One Chance John Wells’ acclaimed August Osage County and providing additional music to Ron Howard’s In the Heart Of The Sea.
2012 was a busy year for James as he masterminded and conducted theQueen's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations with the BBC, working on compositions, new arrangements and collaborations alongside artists such as Elton John, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox and Stevie Wonder. He also oversaw the release of his specially commissioned London Olympics 2012 Album. James’ previous projects include composing and writing arrangements forAlien VS Predator and Ella Enchanted. James’ successful orchestral score for the Virgin Trains advertising campaign was nominated for the 2005 BTAA Craft Award (original music).
After graduating from The Royal Academy Of Music in 1997 James was immediately hired by the acclaimed composer Michael Kamen. James’ further contribution to film scores includes writing collaborations with Kamen on features such as The Event Horizon, What Dreams May Come, The Iron Giant, Frequency, X-Men The Movie, and the epic mini series, Band of Brothers produced by Steven Spielberg. In this period James also co-produced and provided additional score on Paramount’s Against the Ropes. In 1999 James helped mastermind the ambitious and groundbreaking concert that saw Metallica pair up with The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra as assistant Musical Director.
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John Pitts is a composer and teacher living in Bristol. After a gap year in Pakistan with the Project Trust, he studied Music at Bristol and Manchester Universities, and composes mostly chamber music, especially for piano solo/duet/duo/triet – stylistically melodic, motoric, motif-driven, folk-inspired, jazz-tinged, post-minimal impressionism. His virtuosic pieces for two pianists (7 Piano Duets & Triets inspired by music from around the world and Gaelic Faram Jig in Kiev) have been performed at concerts, competitions and festivals in several European countries, plus Armenia, Australia, Russia, Ukraine and the USA, including in 2015 a concert dedicated to his music in Perpignan Conservatoire's Festival Prospective 22ème siècle. His Piano Quartet won the 2003 Philharmonia Orchestra Martin Musical Scholarship Fund Composition Prize at the Royal Festival Hall. His 2009 album Intensely Pleasant Music: 7 Airs & Fantasias and other piano music, performed by Steven Kings, received “delicious” reviews. In 2016 John completed an unusual 258-page book How to Play Indian Sitar Raags on a Piano for adventurous pianists, followed in 2018 by Indian Raags for Piano Made Easy for fledgling pianists. Secretary of Severnside Composers Alliance (2003-2015); Associate Conductor of Bristol Millennium Orchestra (2010-present), conducting (amongst other things) a piano concerto by fellow old Tiffinian Rob Howe.
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1990 to 1997
I attended Tiffin School between 1990 and 1997. During my time there I was heavily involved in the Music Department, singing in the choirs (I also sang in KPC choir), playing oboe in the orchestra and many more things besides. It was no surprise then that I chose to study Music, and I gained a place at Birmingham Conservatoire studying oboe. Throughout my course I also sang as a choral scholar in Birmingham Cathedral Choir and as time went on it became evident that it was in choral music that my heart really lay. At the end of my course I took a PGCE and taught Music at three schools across 9 years, developing choirs in each. In 2007, I moved to Gloucester to sing in the Cathedral choir, and it was there that I became involved in ‘The Songmen’, a six piece male voice a cappella group initially styled after ‘The King’s Singers’, but now with a definitive voice of our own. I found my niche and left classroom teaching to pursue a career as a freelance musician, conducting, singing countertenor and teaching singing, leading workshops (including with ‘The Tiffinians’) and masterclasses, and adjudicating competitions. There have been many highlights along the way, but near the top of the list has been my role as Judge on Sky One’s ‘Sing: Ultimate A Cappella’.
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1990 to 1997
I started at Tiffin School in 1990, in the days when the Music Department was housed in The Range – an old WWI firing range on the school site, just by the Lovekyn Chapel. It was cold, had holes in the roof, and was very cramped. Instrumental lessons took place in portacabins dotted around the playground outside. Despite the conditions, David Nield ran a wonderful department, which had for decades been punching well above its weight. It competed with the top public schools, and boasted lots of professional musicians among the ranks of OTs. At that time, the choirs were run by Roddy Williams, who left in 1991 to study at the Guildhall, and has since gone on to a glittering international career as a baritone. I went up to King’s College Cambridge on a choral scholarship in 1998. I was kicked out two years later when I failed my history exams. On reflection, I treated Kings as though I were a lay-clerk, not an undergraduate reading for a degree! I got a history degree from the University of Surrey in 2002, and while studying for that, I began to use my sight-reading skills to pick up work on the professional choral circuit in London. In 2001, I had a lucky break, when I was summoned on 12 hours’ notice to sing to Sir John Eliot Gardiner. He gave me a chance in the Monteverdi Choir, and that has been an enormously important relationship ever since. In the past 17 years, I’ve sung solos for John Eliot at the Proms, at the Opera Comique in Paris, and in various venues around Europe. I still sing for him, and occasionally rehearse the choir for him when he is away.
In 2005 I went to the Royal Academy of Music for two years postgraduate study, and from 2009 to 2011 I was on the opera course at the Royal College of Music. I won a couple of competitions during my time as a student at the RCM, and was picked up by an agent when I graduated. Since then, I’ve broadened my musical focus, and now combine performing with conducting and teaching. I run two London choral societies, as well as various other choirs of different kinds. I am Head of Vocal Studies at Highgate School in north London, and teach singing on the Eton Choral Courses, and for the NYCGB.
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Alastair Putt is a composer and musician from London. He studied at New College, Oxford and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he was a Fellow from 2010-11. In 2011, he was accepted onto the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Young Composers Scheme, and his subsequent commission for the orchestra, Spiral, was premiered in 2014 at the Barbican Hall, and released on the ‘Panufnik Legacies II’ CD in 2016. He was a Composition Fellow at Tanglewood Music Center in 2012, and returned the following year for the premiere of his commission for brass ensemble,Blaze. Other recent commissions include works for the Choir of New College, Oxford, the Brinkburn Festival, EXAUDI and the viola da gambist Liam Byrne. His most recent piece will be premiered by Finchley Children’s Music Group at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in January 2019. In addition to his compositional activities, Alastair is active as a freelance tenor, singing regularly with groups including the BBC Singers and EXAUDI, and as a guitarist, playing with ensembles including the London Contemporary Orchestra and the Riot Ensemble.
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James Savage- Hanford
James is a singer and musicologist. He made his international operatic debut as Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the Birgitta Festival in Tallinn, with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, in 2016. Other recent solo engagements include concert performances at London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Southwell Minster. He is also active as a choral singer, and appeared with the Academy of Ancient Music in their most recent performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Barbican Hall, under Richard Egarr. While a treble at Tiffin, he was lucky enough to appear as the Shepherd Boy in two seasons of Tosca at the Royal Opera House, and subsequently recorded the role for EMI’s 2001 CD release, featuring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna.
James read Music at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is currently studying for a PhD on the chamber works of early twentieth-century Romanian composer George Enescu. He has presented his research at several conferences in the UK, and last year was invited to give a paper on the poetic construction of memory in Enescu’s Piano Quintet, Op. 29, as part of the George Enescu International Musicology Symposium, in Bucharest.
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Alex Groves is a composer, sound designer and producer working across concert music, theatre and community projects. His work has been commissioned by organisations including the V&A, Royal Opera House, Union Chapel, English Touring Opera and Sky Arts. He is currently Composer-in-Residence at Handel & Hendrix in London where he runs a number of their education programmes, and a resident artist at Snape Maltings as part of Hanbury & Groves - his music theatre collaboration with director Rebecca Hanbury. Alex also produces SOLO - an intimate concert series for contemporary classical soloists - through which he has collaborated with artists including Liam Byrne, Daniel Pioro, James McVinnie and Eliza McCarthy.
After studying at Tiffin School, I went to the University of Bristol to read music. I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d do after that but I knew I wanted to spend more time studying, writing and performing music and it was whilst I was at Bristol that I got into composing. Firstly as part of my course and then for the performing arts societies. I worked on everything from concert pieces to theatrical sound design and often collaborate with many of the same people today. Once I left university, I worked for Spitalfields Music and spent two years putting on a whole range of gigs, meeting artists and composing in my spare time. It was in 2015 that I decided to go freelance - my composing work was picking up and I needed to dedicate more time to it. Since then, I’ve worked on wide range of pieces with commissions from the V&A, Sky Arts, English Touring Opera, Union Chapel and Royal Opera House and residencies at Handel & Hendrix in London and Snape Maltings. I’m also still producing gigs alongside all this with my concert series SOLO through which I’ve collaborated with some of the Uk's leading classical soloists.
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Kieran Brunt is a singer, composer and arranger working in London. Since graduating from St John's College, Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar, he has gone on to work in a diverse range of musical contexts. In 2017 he released his first music with his electronic band, Strange Boy. The group have founded their own label, Glass Guts, which specialises in experimental, electronic and contemporary classical music. Strange Boy’s second EP, recorded in New York and mastered in Iceland, is set be released in spring 2018.
After assisting Terry Riley with preparation of a piece written for the Tiffin Boy’s Choir in 2015, Kieran was asked to form a choir for ambient artist Nils Frahm’s festival at the Barbican, Possibly Colliding. The group, Shards, has enjoyed great success since their initial shows, collaborating on Nils’s widely acclaimed album All Melody, as well as working with Michael Price, Anna von Hausswolff, Wildbirds & Peacedrums and Masayoshi Fujita. Kieran directs and sings in the choir, as well as composing and arranging for a number of projects. When not recording and performing, Kieran teaches music and singing and Hampton Court House, where he is Director of Music.
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1957 to 1965
1965 to 1974 Richard Cooke
1974 to 1980 Neville Creed
1980 to 1988 Roddy Williams
1988 to 1991 Simon Toyne
1991 to 2015