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David Hill To Step Down From St John's


Jeremy Jones
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According to GRAMOPHONE David Hill is to step down from his position as Director of Music at St John's College, Cambridge next summer to succeed Stephen Cleobury as Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers. St John's is a major post - any suggestions as to who might be in the running to take over? John Scott perhaps?

 

 

It would be even better if he took the Kings job as well, the current sound of the kings choir is dredfull!

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It would be even better if he took the Kings job as well, the current sound of the kings choir is dredfull!

I have to agree. I heard them last year locally and their diction was very poor and the tuning really wasnt much better. I think that they tend to use the Kings building too much to their advantage.

 

Anyway, I'm biased..... I was at John's!

 

Peter

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I have to agree. I heard them last year locally and their diction was very poor and the tuning really wasnt much better. I think that they tend to use the Kings building too much to their advantage.

Do you think so? I always get the impression that the choir is fighting the acoustic, both in terms of tone and speed. Part of the magic of Willcock's choir at King's was that he used the acoustic as the best voice in the choir and chose his speeds accordingly so that the building and the sound blended into a unified whole that sounded absolutely right. The choir has never been the same since.

 

Hill, to judge from the results he produces, is one of the best choirmasters in the business, but I cannot imagine the tone he aims for suiting King's at all. But then, perhaps one should hear it done there before passing judgement. I'm perfectly prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

 

As for who should succeed Hill at John's I really have no idea. Most of the obvious candidates I could think of probably wouldn't want to move from where they are.

 

How about Stephen Farr?

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It is alleged that when appointing Christopher Robinson's successor, the mindset at John's was that if you weren't good enough to have been organ scholar at the place, you certaqinly weren't up to the No.1 position. Not sure whether this an urban myth but if it is true and current, it would cdertainly narrow down the field.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
How about Andy’s old number two from Lichfield, Robert Sharpe? The results he’s achieved at Truro have been fantastic.

 

:lol:

 

 

However good everyone might be that gets named here, isn't it a bit invidious for us to try naming our best bets in public like this?

 

I'd love to name some outstanding (and often overlooked) cathedral directors of music who (because of anno domini or loyalty to a particular post) will probably not be considered (despite being quite possibly exactly what St.J's needs)!

 

It is a fact: some of our best cathedral choirmasters are not in 'first division' cathedrals. It's a bit like league tables for schools where teachers blessed with good material are deemed to be 'the stars' while ignoring those who (with a far greater challenge) seem to be able to turn the odd sow's ear into something far more useful. Nil nisi bonum of course, but I just loved the story of what happened when the late great George Guest briefly took over the choir at St.David's Cathedral as a locum. By all accounts, the trebles tried their best with his methods for a couple of weeks and then resigned en bloc and wouldn't come back until he had gone.

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It is a fact: some of our best cathedral choirmasters are not in 'first division' cathedrals. It's a bit like league tables for schools where teachers blessed with good material  are deemed to be 'the stars' while ignoring those who (with a far greater challenge) seem to be able to turn the odd sow's ear into something far more useful. Nil nisi bonum of course, but I just loved the story of what happened when the late great George Guest briefly took over the choir at St.David's Cathedral as a locum. By all accounts, the trebles tried their best with his methods for a couple of weeks and then resigned en bloc and wouldn't come back until he had gone.

 

Great story that was new to me! I've often wondered how, say, Herbert von Karajan would have coped with a lower-division County Youth Orchestra, whereas someone like Vernon Handley could work wonders in a similar situation.

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However good everyone might be that gets named here, isn't it a bit invidious for us to try naming our best bets in public like this?

 

I'd love to name some outstanding (and often overlooked) cathedral directors of music who (because of anno domini or loyalty to a particular post) will probably not be considered (despite being quite possibly exactly what St.J's needs)!

 

It is a fact: some of our best cathedral choirmasters are not in 'first division' cathedrals. It's a bit like league tables for schools where teachers blessed with good material  are deemed to be 'the stars' while ignoring those who (with a far greater challenge) seem to be able to turn the odd sow's ear into something far more useful. Nil nisi bonum of course, but I just loved the story of what happened when the late great George Guest briefly took over the choir at St.David's Cathedral as a locum. By all accounts, the trebles tried their best with his methods for a couple of weeks and then resigned en bloc and wouldn't come back until he had gone.

 

Perhaps it is a “bit invidious for us to try naming our best bets in public”, but why not?

 

I appreciate that there are some fine directors that aren’t in first division cathedrals but then (sorry Truro) I never considered Truro as a first division cathedral. What I do know is that Robert has really moved the choir on since he took up post. Whilst the choir there was never a sow’s ear, it has defiantly moved up a notch. This is of course, only my opinion. Others may (and probably will) disagree with me completely.

 

:lol:

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Perhaps it is a “bit invidious for us to try naming our best bets in public”, but why not?

 

I appreciate that there are some fine directors that aren’t in first division cathedrals but then (sorry Truro) I never considered Truro as a first division cathedral.  What I do know is that Robert has really moved the choir on since he took up post.  Whilst the choir there was never a sow’s ear, it has defiantly moved up a notch.  This is of course, only my opinion.  Others may (and probably will) disagree with me completely.

 

:lol:

 

 

While I freely agree that Truro's recent performance on the public stage (Radio 3 Choral Evensong) was well up to par and have no wish to dim anyone's lights

....in the interests of balance, two extra factors in the Truro story:

1. Before Robert Sharpe took over, Andrew Nethsingha was in charge. He has significantly moved Gloucester Cathedral Choir on since his appointment there - the standard is generally acknowledged to have risen substantially. Put it this way, the choir he left behind him was (in fact) good already.

2. Truro Cathedral is now (as of a year ago) blessed with a very musical (and positive) Dean who will have given the choir his complete support, enabling things to move in a Director of Music's direction in several ways that count. I speak from a position of some knowledge here, Revd.Dr.Hardwick was my previous vicar! [stands back to bask in some reflected glory.]

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While I freely agree that Truro's recent performance on the public stage (Radio 3 Choral Evensong) was well up to par and have no wish to dim anyone's lights

....in the interests of balance, two extra factors in the Truro story:

1. Before Robert Sharpe took over, Andrew Nethsingha was in charge. He has significantly moved Gloucester Cathedral Choir on since his appointment there - the standard is generally acknowledged to have risen substantially. Put it this way, the choir he left behind him was (in fact) good already.

2. Truro Cathedral is now (as of a year ago) blessed with a very musical (and positive) Dean who will have given the choir his complete support, enabling things to move in a Director of Music's direction in several ways that count. I speak from a position of some knowledge here, Revd.Dr.Hardwick was my previous vicar! [stands back to bask in some reflected glory.]

 

It’s always good to have a supportive Dean, makes the DOM’s life easier. Under the guidance of David Briggs then Andrew Nethsingha and now Robert Sharpe the choir has steadily improved. It’s hard for cathedrals that are at the extremes of the country (well England) to attract quality singers if the money is poor. A supportive Dean can always help, but if there’s no money in the pot then there’s no money in the pot.

 

:lol:

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It’s always good to have a supportive Dean, makes the DOM’s life easier.  Under the guidance of David Briggs then Andrew Nethsingha and now Robert Sharpe the choir has steadily improved.  It’s hard for cathedrals that are at the extremes of the country (well England) to attract quality singers if the money is poor.  A supportive Dean can always help, but if there’s no money in the pot then there’s no money in the pot.

 

:lol:

 

 

The Choral bitchy scene is so funny I cant help laugh at times when certain obvious names are put forward and would be candidates for a post. I am surprised to hear that David Hill is leaving already perhaps the College world isnt for him as it does have its responsibilities. In this business its who knows who and we need to move away from this old boy brigade. Just because someone has and attractive resume with letters after there name dosent mean there any good ? What ever happen to ones credibility and reputation to be appointed to such a position. Many choral directors in large Parish Churches could easily do the jobs in such places as Kings and probably a lot better then those doing it now !! With regard to Kings Neil is right Stephen Cleobury is a first rate Organist but as a Choral Director I find his conducting style that of a wet lettuce !! Boris Ord was the best Conducter that ever did the job his whole approach was and art. I would laughed if Martin Neary was appointed that would be the act of desperation on the colleges part.

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Perhaps it is a “bit invidious for us to try naming our best bets in public”, but why not?

 

I appreciate that there are some fine directors that aren’t in first division cathedrals but then (sorry Truro) I never considered Truro as a first division cathedral.  What I do know is that Robert has really moved the choir on since he took up post.  Whilst the choir there was never a sow’s ear, it has defiantly moved up a notch.  This is of course, only my opinion.  Others may (and probably will) disagree with me completely.

 

:lol:

 

I don't know how much the choir has moved on since Nethsingha, but it doesn't surprise me that Robert has done good things there - he's very very good.

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I don't know how much the choir has moved on since Nethsingha, but it doesn't surprise me that Robert has done good things there - he's very very good.

 

 

Having been part of the Truro scene for a few years in the late 1990's, I can vouch that the Truro choir, under Andrew Nethsingha was of the highest calibre. Andrew worked wonders with the choir during the time there and is doing the same with Gloucester. The recently released CD from Gloucester was just absolutely superb. I ttended the Ash Wednesday mass there this year and the quality of the singing (from the men particularly) as astounding.

 

NS

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Having been part of the Truro scene for a few years in the late 1990's, I can vouch that the Truro choir, under Andrew Nethsingha was of the highest calibre. Andrew worked wonders with the choir during the time there and is doing the same with Gloucester. The recently released CD from Gloucester was just absolutely superb. I ttended the Ash Wednesday mass there this year and the quality of the singing (from the men particularly) as astounding. 

 

NS

 

 

Speaking (well, writing) of Andrew Nethsingha, he is an old John's man, himself....

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It is alleged that when appointing Christopher Robinson's successor, the mindset at John's was that if you weren't good enough to have been organ scholar at the place, you certaqinly weren't up to the No.1 position. Not sure whether this an urban myth but if it is true and current, it would cdertainly narrow down the field.

 

 

Speaking (well, writing) of Andrew Nethsingha, he is an old John's man, himself....

 

Looks like we've found our man then?

 

:unsure:B)

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The Choral bitchy scene is so funny I cant help laugh at times when certain obvious names are put forward and would be candidates for a post... With regard to Kings ... Stephen Cleobury is a first rate Organist but as a Choral Director I find his conducting style that of a wet lettuce !!

Ronald is a braver man than I for putting his head above the parapet. Cleobury has been at King's for some 24 years now and so many of our finest young organists have passed through his hands as King's Organ Scholars. That is some power base, and one that probably has quite a liking for wet lettuce (well, some people out there like Brussel Sprouts, so why not wet lettuce?).

 

I am pleased to see that Andrew Nethsingha has a number of supporters here. I was at school with Andrew at Clifton College in Bristol, albeit he was a year or two above me, and I spent many an hour up in the organ loft watching him develop as an organist on the Chapels 4M Harrison organ, tackling ever more challenging organ repertoire. It has therefore been one of my life's little pleasures to watch at a distance his subsequent career flourish so spectacularly, first as Organ Scholar at St George's Chapel, Windsor and then St John's, as Assistant at Wells before finally taking up the reins as the country's youngest DOM at Truro and since 2002, Gloucester.

 

Personally, I think Andrew is a little young for the job at St John's, and believe he would be better off staying put at Gloucester for a while yet (Gloucester hosts the 3 Choirs in 2007), providing he can live with its awful organ.

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Personally, I think Andrew is a little young for the job at St John's, and believe he would be better off staying put at Gloucester for a while yet (Gloucester hosts the 3 Choirs in 2007), providing he can live with its awful organ.

 

This may be true; however, I assume that the penultimate word is a typographical error....

 

:o

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People may say that Mr Nethsingha is young, but then again so was George Guest when he was first appointed at St. John's. And he seems to have a proven track record, and he was at John's himself. These seem to be good reasons for appointing him.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest Andrew Butler

Having listened to the Advent carols from John's yesterday afternoon, I am sorry DH is stepping down. I thought it was the best for a long time, particularly in choice of repertoire; liked the Cymbestern at the end of the Mag too!

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