Christopher has held the post of Director of Music at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich from 2015. In this time the choir has appeared on BBC 1’s Songs of Praise and has broadcast a service on BBC Radio Suffolk. In addition to the five services a week, the choir tours annually, has recorded and given a world premiere of Ubi caritas by the Classic FM broadcaster and composer John Brunning, and has performed regular concerts including Vivaldi’s Gloria in D, with James Bowman CBE.
In addition to his post at St Mary-le-Tower, Christopher enjoys a varied musical career, singing with some of the UK’s leading ensembles such as the Marian Consort and the Dunedin Consort. He is also Musical Director of the Ipswich Chamber Choir, an Associate Conductor for the Pimlott Foundation, a singing teacher at Felsted School, a published composer and a freelance bass-baritone.
Christopher began his musical education at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, followed by a year as a choral scholar at Tewkesbury Abbey before becoming a choral scholar at New College, Oxford where he read a degree in music and was an academic scholar. During this time he was conductor of the Oxford New Orchestra and Musical Director of New Chamber Opera conducting repertoire from Handel to Glass.
After university Christopher was appointed a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace as well as gaining a place on the prestigious Monteverdi Choir Apprenticeship Scheme. After a year of touring with the choir and coaching from Sir John Eliot Gardiner, he continued to sing as a full member of the ensemble participating concerts ranging from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in the Carnegie Hall in New York to Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm.
As a soloist Christopher has performed with the Monteverdi Choir for HRH Prince of Wales. He has also sung with the Dunedin Consort, Merton College Oxford, Schola Cantorum of Tewkesbury Abbey, Concerto Grosso Berlin, The Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra amongst others.
Christopher began his association with The Pimlott Foundation in 2010. He has led singing and composition workshops in schools in Suffolk and has conducted performances of Handel’s Messiah, Purcell’s Hail, Bright Cecilia, Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit and J.S. Bach’s Weihnachts Oratorium.
Organist and Assistant Director of Music: William Baldry BMus
Initially a chorister, and later organ scholar at St Mary-le-Tower, William held a gap-year organ scholarship at Rochester Cathedral and King’s School, Rochester before studying for a degree in music at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he also held an organ scholarship. Here he accompanied the Choir of Royal Holloway in college services and in many English Cathedrals, as well as, annually, on BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong. He also accompanied the choir on tours to the United States of America and Belgium, playing for concerts and services at St Thomas, Fifth Avenue, NY, Washington National Cathedral, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, Antwerp and Brugge Cathedrals. He accompanied the choir on a recording of the choral music of the Swedish composer, Bo Hansson, for Hyperion Records. Besides the Choir of Royal Holloway, William directed and accompanied the Founder’s choir and also played timpani in the college’s Symphony Orchestra.
Before returning to St Mary-le-Tower, William was the Organist in Residence at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, and Organ Scholar at Tewkesbury Abbey. At the school he accompanied the Chapel and Chamber choirs and played for the regular chapel services. He accompanied the Chamber Choir on their recent CD, ‘A New Heaven’. He also worked with the Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, training choristers, rehearsing, accompanying, and directing the choir.
As well as his work at the Tower, William pursues a busy freelance career including the role of Accompanist to Stowmarket Chorale.
Singing Teacher: Katie Smith
After reading Music at Royal Holloway College (London University), she took part in the Mayer-Lissmann Opera Workshop and masterclasses with leading performers such as Malcom Martineau, Paul Hamburger & Laura Sarti. She then studied with Rae Woodland over a period of 25 years, whilst gaining a breadth of experience in concert and oratorio work all over the UK.
Since moving to East Anglia, Katie has taught singing privately and in schools, besides giving weekly lessons to the Choristers of Norwich Cathedral and taking part in their outreach programme.
She has successfully prepared numerous pupils for choral scholarships at Oxbridge and other leading universities & cathedrals, as well as for conservatoire entry.
Senior Music Scholar: Taylor London
Taylor is an aspiring young soprano and the Senior Music Scholar here at St- Mary-le-Tower. After discovering her passion for music and singing she went to the Royal Hospital School and finished her sixth form with A Levels in Music, Music Technology and Business and a vocal diploma. During her time at RHS she worked to become the Head chorister of the Chapel Choir, Head Soprano of the Chamber Choir and also ran her own upper voices a Cappella group. This year, while taking a gap year, she is building her repertoire, auditioning for conservatoires and trying to gain as much musical experience as she can.
Choir Assistants: Lis Rollinson and Taylor London
Lis and Taylor are the glue that holds the whole thing together. They act as choir librarians, look after the choristers, provide much-needed refreshment between services and act as pastoral support for the whole choir.