Wimbledon Choral Society
 
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14
Dec
2019
Christmas Concert (1/2)
St Paul's, Southfields
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Da Vinci Requiem - a triumph
Feedback and reflections on a wonderful evening in the RFH
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Music Team

Neil Ferris – Music Director

Neil Ferris has been the Music Director of Wimbledon Choral Society since 2009.  He is also Artistic Director of the professional chamber choir Sonoro and was appointed Chorus Director of the BBC Symphony Chorus in 2017.  He made his Proms conducting debut in August 2019, celebrating the 90th Anniversary season of the BBC Symphony Chorus with the premiere of Jonathan Dove's specially commissioned piece We Are One Fire.
 
With Sonoro Neil has appeared at the St Magnus International Festival, the Wimbledon International Music Festival and at King's Place in London.  In demand as guest conductor at some of the finest choirs in the UK, Neil has worked with the London Symphony Chorus, Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, BBC Singers and the National Youth Choir of Wales and has prepared choirs for conductors including Marin Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Edward Gardner, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Sakari Oramo and Sir Simon Rattle.
 
Orchestras that Neil has conducted include London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, Welsh National Opera, London Mozart Players and Orchestra of the Swan.   He made his Royal Opera House conducting debut in a production of Will Tuckett’s ballet The Wind in the Willows.   In 2019 he makes his debut with the Ulster Orchestra, conducting the opening concert of the Derry International Choral Festival where he will also be a member of the jury for the competition.
 
Formerly Director of Choral Studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Neil is recognised as one of the country’s leading teachers of choral conducting and has led masterclasses in the UK, USA, Ireland, Denmark and (in 2019) China and Singapore.  In the UK he has been invited to lead masterclasses at the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
 
Recordings include an album of the choral music of Jonathan Dove (Naxos), Fauré Requiem (Convivium), and a regular programme of recordings with Sonoro on the Resonus label.   Their album Christmas with Sonoro was Christmas album of choice in the BBC Music Magazine, and followed on from their critically acclaimed debut album Passion and Polyphony featuring works of James MacMillan and Frank Martin.   2019 sees two releases, Choral Inspirations and an album of the choral music of Martin Bussey.   2020 sees the world premiere recording of Cecilia McDowall's Da Vinci Requiem with the Philharmonia and Wimbledon Choral Society.
 
 

Sarah Burston – Assistant Music Director

Sarah BurstonSarah Burston is a freelance conductor and teacher who studied music at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she gained a love of choral singing in the renowned Chapel Choir.
 
She is Choral Conductor at the Royal College of Music Junior Department, Director of Farnham Youth Training Choir and the vocal coach for the international award-winning Farnham Youth Choir.
 
In addition, she is Director of Music for the Marygate Singers and Assistant Music Director of Wimbledon Choral Society and Leatherhead Choral Society. She has also worked with the London Welsh Chorale, Reading Festival Chorus, Holmbury Choral Society and The Harry Ensemble.
 
Sarah has a busy singing and piano teaching practice in Surrey and teaches at Edgeborough School and St George’s Junior School.
 
 

Michael Higgins - Accompanist 

Michael Higgins (photo: Nick Rutter)

Michael Higgins is a pianist, accompanist, composer and arranger, and Artistic Director of professional chamber choir Sonoro.    With a special interest in choral accompaniment, Michael is in demand with some of the leading choirs in the country and works with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, London Voices, Wimbledon Choral Society and the BBC Singers.    In 2012 Michael spent six months travelling across the USA filming a series for American television with popular choir master Gareth Malone, and also appeared on the Queen’s Christmas Message accompanying the Military Wives Choir at Buckingham Palace.
 
Michael has performed throughout the UK at venues including the Royal Festival Hall, London, Symphony Hall, Birmingham and Usher Hall, Edinburgh, as well as across Europe and further afield in Australia and New Zealand.    As a rehearsal pianist, he has worked with conductors Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, Jiří Bělohlávek, and Sakari Oramo.
 
As a composer and arranger he has written for Farnham Youth Choir, the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain, as well as for television, corporate films and commercials.   Many of his works are published by the Royal School of Church Music, Novello and Oxford University Press.
 
Michael studied piano with Margaret Newman at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and at the Royal Academy of Music, London, with Iain Ledingham and Julius Drake.    He was awarded the Joseph Weingarten Memorial Trust Scholarship and continued his studies with Kálmán Dráfi at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest.
 
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