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Music Team

Neil Ferris – Music Director

Neil Ferris photo: Simon Ballard
Neil Ferris was appointed as Music Director of Wimbledon Choral Society in 2009 and has helped establish it as one of London’s leading amateur choirs. Neil is also the Artistic Director and conductor of the professional chamber choir Sonoro and in 2017 he was appointed the new Chorus Director of the BBC Symphony Chorus.
 
In demand as chorus master to the finest symphonic choruses in the UK, Neil has worked with the London Symphony Chorus, the Bach Choir, the BBC National Chorus of Wales and at the Endellion Festival. In these roles he has prepared choirs for internationally acclaimed conductors including Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle, Marin Alsop, Bernard Haitink, Carlo Rizzi, Ed Gardner, Donald Runnicles, Martyn Brabbins and Ryan Wigglesworth.
 
Formerly Head of Choral Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Neil helped establish the international reputation of the choral conducting course and developed the conservatoire’s choral ensembles. This summer he prepared the chamber choir to join the BBC Proms Youth Choir with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and conducted them on stage at the Wales Millennium Centre in a collaboration with international ballet dancer Carlos Acosta.
 
Neil has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, New Queens Hall Orchestra, Haydn Chamber Orchestra, Salomon Orchestra, Orchestra Vitae and the period instrument ensembles Florilegium and Apollo Baroque. He made his Royal Opera House debut in 2012 in a ROH2 production of Will Tuckett’s ballet The Wind in the Willows.
 
Recordings include an album of the choral music of Jonathan Dove with Convivium Singers released on the Naxos label and Fauré’s Requiem on the Convivium Records label. He has also prepared the chorus for the LSO Live recordings of Berlioz Roméo et Juliette, Brahms Requiem and Szymanowski Stabat Mater.

 

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 studied piano with Margaret Newman at the 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 completed his studies with Kálmán Dráfi at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Budapest.

Regularly performing throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and further afield, he has given concerto performances with the New London Soloists Orchestra at St Martin in the Fields and worked with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain conducted by Daniel Barenboim and Gustavo Dudamel (BBC Proms).   Michael has collaborated with popular choirmaster Gareth Malone and appeared on the Queen’s Christmas Message in 2012, accompanying the Military Wives Choir, filmed at Buckingham Palace.
 
Recordings include Waves with flautist Averil Williams (Fine Arts Music), Hugh Benham: A Triumph Song (Convivium Records) and he was producer for a disc of choral music by Jonathan Dove released by Naxos.  A recording of his arrangement of Fauré's Requiem for string quintet and organ has been released by Convivium Records.
 
Michael studied organ with Andrew Fletcher, was Organ Scholar at Birmingham Metropolitan Cathedral and is currently Director of Music at the Church of St John the Baptist, Wimbledon.   He accompanies the Wimbledon Choral Society and the National Children's Choir of Great Britain.

As a composer and arranger he has answered a number of commissions for television commercials and corporate films, including last year's Waitrose Christmas advert, and arrangements for the album Voices on the Decca label, the ClassicBRIT awards, BBC Children in Need, the Royal Variety Performance and a new season of It Takes a Choir for American television. Many of his choral and organ works are published by Novello, Kevin Mayhew Publishers and the Royal School of Church Music.
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