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Tewkesbury Abbey School Choir

Tewkesbury Abbey School Choir

Tewkesbury Abbey School Choir is the youngest choral foundation in England, founded in 1973, and is unusual in being financially independent of Church and State. The school which was originally founded for the education of choristers, has developed to include both boys and girls from 3 to 13, and allows all the children, to be part of an exciting, inclusive and community minded environment.

The Abbey School Choir sings the weekday services in Tewkesbury Abbey during term-time and in most respects it functions like a cathedral choir. There are eighteen choristers who hold scholarships at The Abbey School, and there are six Layclerks and Choral Scholars.

In addition to its duties in the Abbey, the Choir undertakes many additional engagements. Recent tours have included USA, France, Venice, Moscow, Sweden, Belgium (Bruges Early Music Festival) and Germany. Performances in England have included a service for The Ouseley Trust at St Michael’s College, Tenbury and an Evensong in the 2004 Three Choirs’ Festival at Gloucester Cathedral. The choir has recorded a number of CDs including those for Naxos (Christmas Carols), Priory Records (New English Hymnal Series, Pater Noster, and the music of John Stainer), Guild Music (Favourite Hymns) and Regent Records (Heaven Sent and Christmas Carols). The choir has also recorded some of Elgar’s choral music for Japanese Television, and regularly broadcasts Choral Evensong on Radio 3.

Andrew Swait was just ten years old when he recorded ‘Light of the World’ in October 2005 as an Abbey School Chorister. His prodigious talent was spotted at the age of only five, and steeped in the musical whirlwind of a chorister’s life, his remarkable musicianship has flourished. In addition to many hours of singing both at the Abbey and elsewhere, Andrew also plays the piano and cello and still finds time to go to concerts and follow the careers of his idols - Kirkby, Padmore, Terfel, Scholl and Isserlis - with a bit of live jazz thrown in too. Andrew’s passions don’t stop at music. He takes extra-curricular Mandarin lessons which he started aged 6 (he has even sung in Chinese), and he devotes many-an-hour to his Airfix modelling of WWI and WWII air and seacraft with just as much dedication and enthusiasm as he affords his musical and academic life.

Benjamin Nicholas was appointed Director of Music and Master of the Choristers at The Abbey School, Tewkesbury in 2000. He is a former organ scholar of Chichester Cathedral, Lincoln College, Oxford and St Paul’s Cathedral. In addition to his work in Tewkesbury, Benjamin Nicholas is Conductor of Stroud Choral Society, Musical Director of Monmouth Choral Society and Head of Choral Music at Dean Close School, Cheltenham.

Carleton Etherington is Organist to Tewkesbury Abbey and The Abbey School Choir. A prize-winning organist, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music before being appointed Sub-organist at Leeds Parish Church. Carleton is Conductor of Bromsgrove Choral Society and Musical Director of Cirencester Choral Society.

Stephen Taylor is The Abbey School Choir’s singing teacher. He is a Layclerk at New College, Oxford and combines a career as a solo and consort singer with teaching commitments at Eton College and Cothill School. He is already familiar to customers of Signum Records since he appears as a counter tenor on almost all the CDs recorded by Chapelle du Roi

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