Chorister Programme

Chorister staff

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Richard Tanner, Director of Music at Rugby School

Richard became Director of Music at Rugby School in September 2012, having previously been Director of Chapel Music at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Prior to that he spent 13 years as Director of Music at

Blackburn Cathedral, where he ran one of the UK’s busiest and most wide ranging Cathedral music programmes which not only provided high quality singing for the Cathedral’s liturgy, but also extensive educational outreach to the local community.

He is also a Musical Director for BBC Radio 4 Daily Service and regularly works on a variety of other programmes for the BBC, including BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong and BBC 1 Songs of Praise.

A chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Oxford University, where he read for a music degree and was organ scholar at Exeter College, which included responsibility for leading a chorister programme with boys who were educated at Christ Church Cathedral School. After Oxford he spent a year as organ scholar at St Albans Cathedral before moving to All Saints’ Northampton, where he was Director of Music for five years.

Richard will oversee the Chorister Programme and lead the training and performance of both sets of choristers. supported by:

Director of Music at Bilton Grange, Mark Penrose

Mark has been Director of Music at Bilton Grange Preparatory School since 2015 and has extensive experience teaching music to a wide range of ages, from reception to sixth form, including singing and leading choirs to the highest standards. He trained as a musician and teacher in Brisbane, Australia, where he was born, and has experience performing in choirs, operas and as a soloist. He holds a Bachelor of Music (Voice) and a Bachelor of Music Studies (Hons I) with a focus on vocal pedagogy from the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, a Bachelor of Education (Secondary)(Graduate Entry) with a Kodály focus from the University of Queensland, and a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) from the University of Buckingham. He is passionate about excellence in music and choral education, and is currently a member of the Music Teachers’ Association Committee.


Mark will support the Chorister Programme by ensuring that the choristers develop their instrumental playing and have opportunities to play in ensembles. He will work closely with colleagues to ensure that the choristers grow as all round musicians by learning about the theory of music, composition and participating in masterclasses both as instrumentalists and vocalists. Mark will also work with the staff of Bilton Grange to ensure that the choristers can still be part of every aspect of school life whilst maintaining their busy schedule of rehearsals and services.

Head of Keyboard, Ian Wicks

Ian has a lifelong association with choral singing and choristers having worked at Salisbury Cathedral School as Director of Music, Chorister Liaison and Acting Assistant Organist at Salisbury Cathedral and earlier at Exeter Cathedral School as Acting Director of Music. Most recently he has been Headmaster of The Chorister School, Durham Cathedral and therefore brings a wealth of experience of three choir schools which allow Choristers to embrace all of school life whist maintaining their commitment to singing in the choir and their wider musical education. Ian is also a singer and sang as a Lay Clerk at St Alban’s Abbey with Dr Barry Rose and Andrew Lucas and before this was a Choral Scholar at Exeter Cathedral and Organ Scholar at Exeter University Chapel. He has been a chorister parent of a boy and a girl chorister and understands the commitment choristers and their families make to experience the joys and professional training that they will receive. Ian’s philosophy is that music is for everyone and he has been at the forefront of music outreach into primary schools throughout his career, developing programmes that led to the government SingUp! campaign and the programmes that now operate across the country. He is delighted to be helping to develop the Chorister Programme at Bilton Grange and Rugby School and looks forward to working as part of the team who will bring the programme to fruition.

Head of Vocal Studies, Matthew Sandy

Matthew studied Music at King’s College, Cambridge, where he held a choral scholarship and sang with King’s College choir, directed by Stephen Cleobury. He went on to specialise in singing at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

He has extensive experience as a choral conductor and choir trainer, and is currently vocal coach to the boy and girl choristers at Coventry Cathedral.

As a performer, Matthew has an extensive concert portfolio, performing as a soloist at venues including Barbican Concert Hall, Birmingham Town Hall, Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square and Amsterdam Concertgebouw, as well as for BBC television and radio broadcasts. He has sung with the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Concert and the Academy of Ancient Music. His specialism is for English song, collaborating with leading academics and practitioners. Recent projects have included recitals, lectures and staged works for the Britten-Pears Foundation at the Red House in Aldeburgh. In opera and staged works, Matthew has worked with Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Vocal coach, Philippa Hyde

Philippa is a professional soprano and singing teacher who trained with Yvonne Minton at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She has spent most of her professional life specialising in Baroque music, working with historically informed performance ensembles such as The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Academy of Ancient Music, with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Roger Norrington and Richard Egarr.

Her first experience of working with choristers was with the trebles of Exeter College Chapel Choir in Oxford. Since then she has been vocal coach to the boy and girl choristers at All Saints’ Church Northampton and Blackburn Cathedral in Lancashire. She very much enjoys working with choristers, in conjunction with their choir trainer: keeping an eye on their vocal development; encouraging healthy voice production and helping them to prepare for solos. Her focus is on an uncluttered and natural, well supported sound, with an even tone and ease of delivery throughout the vocal range. Philippa loves to witness the joy of discovery – of both this new skill and musical world – that young singers experience during their time as a chorister, and is always impressed by the professionalism and dedication that they display, which sets them up so well for life beyond the choir.

Philippa has also experienced the life of the choir parent for her son Benedict, who spent five years in the choir at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. She knows first hand how much the children gain from this experience, and what a delight it is to watch them flourish.

Chorister Tutors

We will be appointing two Chorister Tutors. They will provide pastoral support and chaperoning for the choristers and also be a point of contact for parents about chorister routines. Tutors will also provide a voice within school for the choristers helping to shape their schedule, allowing them to embrace all that school life brings and ensuring there is good liaison and communication both within school and with parents.

Chorister Liaison

As Chorister Liaison, Elizabeth Wicks provides pastoral support and chaperoning for the choristers and is a point of contact for parents about chorister routines. She also provides a voice within school for the choristers helping to shape their schedule, allowing them to embrace all that school life brings and ensuring there is good liaison and communication both within school and with parents. Mrs Wicks brings a wealth of experience of working in two Choir Schools in similar roles and has been a Chorister parent as well.

A typical chorister week

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