Musical Director: Peter Gambie
Peter Gambie studied music at Dartington College of Arts and at the University of Reading. His principal studies were composing and choral conducting; he also admits to a limited facility on piano and trombone. He studied composing under the dominating figure of Helen Glatz, who was a disciple of Gustav Holst. A pervasive Holstian legacy existed at Dartington during Peter’s formative years as a composer; Imogen Holst’s conducting style was also pervasive.
As an orchestral conductor, his repertoire is varied, including many symphonies by Haydn and Mozart; the concerti grossi of Bach and Vivaldi; and, due to the Dartington influence, many of Holst’s orchestral works. Apart from working with a variety of Youth Orchestras, Peter has also conducted The Band of the Royal Marines, the Central Band of the Royal Airforce and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. He has appeared several times at the South Bank, including conducting performances of Holst’s Planet’s Suite, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Walton’s Façade at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Much of Peter’s early work as a composer involved writing for synthesiser and electronic keyboard. Three of his pieces (Æolus, Nereus and Collage) have been performed at the South Bank in avant-garde series between 1984 and 1989. He has returned to a less experimental style within the last decade, as exemplified in Missa in Memoriam – an 8-part unaccompanied mass written for the Renaissance Choir. With the Renaissance Choir, Peter has resurrected a number of forgotten 16th century masses and motets by composers such as Brumel, Josquin and Lassus. Under Peter’s direction, the choir has performed several major works with orchestra, including Bach’s Magnificat, the Nelson Mass by Haydn and a number of Gabrieli’s Sacrae Sinfoniae. The unaccompanied repertoire includes Tallis’ 40-part motet Spem in Alium and Rachmaninov’s Vespers, along with many masses by Palestrina, Byrd and Victoria.
Peter also conducts the Southampton Choral Society. This choir, with a membership of 130, tackles the opposite end of the choral spectrum from the Renaissance Choir. Their repertoire is almost exclusively the large-scale choral classics, usually involving professional orchestra and soloists. Dame Emma Kirkby sang with the choir in 2011.
Assistant Musical Director: Malcolm Keeler
Malcolm graduated with a degree in Music from Royal Holloway College, University of London, where he studied Organ with John Porter. As a member of their Schola Cantorum he sang in many of the cathedrals in Southern England. For eleven years he was organist and choirmaster of St Mark’s church in Portsea. He has performed as a soloist for the Lee Singers and for the Midhurst Music Society. He has accompanied visiting choirs at a number of Cathedrals including Manchester, Durham, Newport, Llandaff and Salisbury.
Besides being the Assistant Musical Director of the Renaissance Choir, Malcolm is the conductor of the Portsmouth Baroque Choir.
We are delighted to have recently performed a number of James Dunlop’s works, some of which have been written for us. Read our post on James’ “O Magnum Mysterium”.
James is an award-winning composer and musician currently residing in Hampshire. His works have seen two world premieres in the Royal Albert Hall, London, as well as performances around the UK and abroad at venues including the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, KKL Luzern (Switzerland), Southampton’s O2 Guildhall, and the South West Proms – with various bands and choirs, and recordings for commercially available albums. One of James’ new choral works Windrush saw its premiere performance at the Botley Music Festival in July 2015 with the Nelson Consort, conducted by Oliver Hancock and a new work for the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust has been recorded in September 2015 with 300 singers, specially for the museum’s contribution to the 75th anniversary of D-Day. James has also written the broadcast idents for the Royal Navy’s news and social media outlets. His debut album ‘Ascension’, with the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir, was released in November 2015.
James is a musician in The Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth, The Royal Band, and has performed on TV, radio, albums and on stage around the world, with such well-known performers as Katherine Jenkins, Ed Sheeran, Joss Stone, Susan Boyle, Alfie Boe, Lucy Kay, Ant & Dec, the RPO, Il Divo, Raghu Dixit and The Tenors, and for audiences including British royalty and world dignitaries. He has performed to more than 100 million viewers live on TV and to audiences in excess of 80,000 at concerts and events across the globe.
He has recently appeared on the ITV This Morning show, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Strictly Come Dancing, the Queen’s Christmas Day Speech, Channel 4’s Gogglebox and on the BBC coverage of The Festival of Remembrance. The radio drama Sometime Never, scored by James, won the New York Award for Best Drama in July 2014. James continues to write concert and production music, as well as taking on exciting new commissions. He also owns the progressive music company Riverwood Air.
Alex gives 20-minute singing lessons to everyone in the choir, during the course of rehearsals, to improve vocal technique.
Alex has performed in recital in major festivals and leading concert venues around the world including Wigmore Hall in London and De Doelen in Rotterdam. His core repertoire includes the three Schubert’s song cycles. He also sings art songs for BBC television and has appeared on ITV. His operatic roles include Figaro in Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Falke in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Doctor and Marquis in Verdi’s La Traviata, for Focus Opera, Chiswick House, London, Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Zeist Opera Festival, Netherlands, The Indian in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride for the Mid Wales Opera, Cascada in Lehar’s The Merry Widow and Sharpless in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly for a US Tour presented by Columbia Artists.
He has also performed El Dancaïro and Morales in Bizet’s Carmen with the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra at Huddersfield Town Hall, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Southdowns Choir, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Exeter Chamber Choir and Devon Baroque and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony with The New Elizabethan Singers in the UK. He graduated in singing from the Birmingham Conservatoire. He won the Reginald Vincent Lieder Prize and was awarded the Joseph Weingarten Memorial Trust Scholarship to study lieder at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest.
Alex is the vocal coach for the Southampton Choral Society, the Portsmouth Choral Union and the Renaissance Choir. He also runs three hugely successful vocal practices along the South Coast of England.
Karen Kingsley: our concert accompanist
Karen gained her GRSM and LRAM diplomas in piano and piano accompaniment at the Royal Academy of Music, where she was awarded several prizes and commendations. Whilst at the Academy she performed Gershwin’s piano concerto and Shostakovich’s 2nd concerto. She has played in masterclasses with John Barstow, Peter Katin and Roger Vignoles.
A graduate of and prize-winner at the Royal Academy of Music, Karen had the privilege of playing to Lutoslawski, the Polish composer and playing concertos with the college ensembles.
According to a press report, Karen is a ‘soloist with a smile on her face and a smile in her heart’ – a statement with which listeners to any of her performances will wholeheartedly agree.
She is a local favourite and is now a national celebrity following her debut on BBC TV in April 2010 accompanying Sam Moffitt in the Brass Section Final of the BBC Young Musician competition and on BBC Radio 3 earlier this year with Robert Blanken and Richard Moore playing the World Premiere of Anthony Hedges’ trio called Three Humours for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano.
In addition to all her concerto, chamber, solo playing and accompanying commitments, Karen is Head of Keyboard at Portsmouth Grammar School – a post she so enjoys that she can’t remember exactly how long she has held it! She thinks it’s about 9 years. In her spare time Karen enjoys playing tennis, collecting factual magazines about crime, playing Scrabble and watching ‘Countdown’ on television.