Peter Hunt – Conductor and Musical Director
Peter is one of the UK’s most experienced choral trainers and conductors, having worked with a wide variety of singers and choral groups for over thirty five years. He is a freelance music educator, conductor and choir trainer and retired from a career in education in 2015. His last job was Deputy Head of Berkshire Maestros, an independent music service for the county of Berkshire, UK, where he specialised in leading singing projects in schools, conducting the Berkshire Youth Choirs and Early Years Music. He gained his B.A. in Music from Dartington College of Arts, and his teaching qualifications from the University of London. His long career in secondary education included being Head of Performing Arts at Chipping Norton School before focusing on choral education.
He is the inspiration behind the VOICEWORKS series of handbooks for singing, published by Oxford University Press, UK, which has helped to transform singing for children and adults and choir leaders in many settings. He is the author or co-author of six of its titles and continues as the series editor. In 2005 he launched SONGSTREAM, a collection of arrangements for mixed voice young choirs with fellow English composer Bob Chilcott. He was also a regular workshop leader for Sing Up, the UK’s national singing campaign, and is much in demand as an adjudicator (particularly for the Chipping Norton Music Festival) and vocal clinician, both in the UK and overseas, with a great understanding of the techniques and skills required of young singers.
Peter has delivered workshops and keynote addresses to many conferences and gatherings around the world. In 2010 he lectured at the Texas Music Educators’ Association convention; in 2011 he toured Australia, delivering a keynote speech at Sounds Great in Melbourne; and in 2012 led workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2015 he toured Canada, introducing the Voiceworks series at music conferences.
Since retiring Peter has started coaching adult singers and is in regular demand by choirs to lead workshops, helping them to develop their choral sound. He sings in the North Cotswold Chamber Choir and conducts the occasional concert.
Peter has conducted the Choral Society for twenty years, and is impressed with their attitude to trying adventurous programmes, and the enthusiasm for singing and hard work. The choir is testament to his belief that everyone can sing, and that given sufficient encouragement and strong leadership, ordinary people can truly achieve extraordinary things.
James Speakman – Accompanist and Assistant Conductor
James Speakman is Assistant Director of Music and Organist at Stowe School, and is a prize-winning Associate of the Royal College of Organists. Initially a first-study pianist, he began organ lessons at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music with Simon Mercer, and was subsequently awarded an Organ Scholarship at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, and studied with Prof Dr Ian Tracey. He read music at the University of Cambridge, where he studied the organ with Stephen Farr, and was Organ Scholar at Corpus Christi College. In addition to his duties accompanying and conducting the Chapel Choir at Corpus, he was President of the Bene’t Club Music Society, and founded a college orchestra.
James is now in his fourth year of teaching, having gained a PGCE whilst working at Oakham School. At Stowe, he balances his academic teaching with directing the School’s choirs, teaching the organ (students are fortunate to have the second largest school organ in the country at their disposal!), and tutoring in a boarding house. Outside of school, he is a frequent recitalist, and has recently featured as the soloist in Poulenc’s Organ Concerto, and in Saint-Saëns Symphony no. 3 (Organ).
James relishes working with choirs, and having relinquished Directorship of Oakham Choral Society upon moving to Stowe, he is delighted to have been appointed Assistant Conductor and Accompanist of Chipping Norton Choral Society this year.
Chris Brown – Assistant Accompanist
Chris is an organist, pianist, and tenor and moved to Oxfordshire in September 2017 to become Head of Music at Chipping Norton School. He was previously in Norfolk for a decade teaching music in Fakenham, as well as being involved with several local musical groups. These included being Organist and Choirmaster at Fakenham Parish Church, Resident Conductor of the Fakenham Town Band, and a stint as Musical Director of Fakenham Choral Society, as well as being the official accompanist of the King’s Lynn Festival Chorus. Chris enjoys running and cycling, having recently cycled the Land’s End to John O’Groats route, and running his second marathon in Edinburgh. He is also a qualified bus driver!
Accompanist, Assistant Musical Director, Musical Director from 2003-2018
Bernard began his musical life as a pianist, before adding the cello and the organ to his repertoire. As an accompanist, he worked with a range of choral groups in North Yorkshire from an early age, going on to win an organ scholarship to Girton College, Cambridge. Whilst reading for his music degree in Cambridge, he was in demand as recitalist, accompanist, repetiteur and conductor for the award-winning college choir and a host of college and University music societies, leading to his involvement in European and South American tours, radio broadcasts and CD recordings.
Bernard settled with his family in the Cotswolds in 2002. On his arrival, he took over the position of Director of Music at St Mary the Virgin, Shipton-under- Wychwood. He has developed and extended this choir, one of the few remaining church choirs in the area, which now regularly performs further afield and deputises at cathedrals. He is Musical Director for the Wychwood Chorale, a community choir based in Chadlington, and ‘Eight in a bar’, a vocal octet who were chosen as a ‘Choir of the Day’ in Choir of the Year 2012.
Aside from his conducting work, Bernard is in great demand as an accompanist, working with various choirs, choral societies and theatrical groups in the Cotswolds. He also tries to keep some free time to spend with his family and to do his day job for the University of Oxford.