The Oxford & Cambridge Singing School
Established in 2013, The Oxford and Cambridge Singing School is for boys and girls aged 7–13 who love to sing. The singing school was created to give children the opportunity to sing great classical music to a high standard in a relaxed and fun environment and to develop their confidence and ability in singing and performing.
The Creative Director is Dr Edward Wickham, Music Fellow, Lecturer and Director of Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he founded the first College-based children’s girls choir in the country. Each course in Oxford, Cambridge, London and Guildford is run by a local team of choral experts with considerable experience in working with children. Since 2018 we have run our first courses in Hong Kong and Perth and Melbourne, Australia.
Please read full biographies for all of our team below. All of our coaches and staff members are checked by the Disclose and Barring Service – DBS (formerly known as CRB).
We are also able to provide choral courses for visiting schools and choirs. Whether your choir is preparing for a competition, you’d like them to hone their vocal technique or just broaden their repertoire, we can offer you a bespoke course tailored to your requirements. For further information, please contact email@example.com
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Meet the team
Dr Edward Wickham was appointed Director of Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 2003 and later became Fellow and Director of Studies in Music. In 2008 he formed the St Catharine’s Girls’ Choir, the first and only college-based choir for girls in the country. He is also the Director of Gramophone Award-winning vocal group The Clerks.
Dr Wickham has been an Affiliate Lecturer at the Faculty of Music in Cambridge since 2006, where he delivers courses on Late Medieval and Renaissance music and its notation. He is Course Director of the MMus in Choral Studies, and chairs a working party on Choral Outreach. His current research interest entails the examination of modes of text understanding and intelligibility within a range of choral repertories.
Educated at Oxford and King’s College, London, where he received his PhD for a study in 15th century sacred music, Dr Wickham has throughout his career maintained a busy schedule both as conductor and academic. Soon after leaving Oxford he established the vocal ensemble The Clerks, with which he has made over two dozen recordings, and received many plaudits including the Gramophone Early Music Award. As director of The Clerks, his recordings and performances of Renaissance repertoire have made a significant contribution to the understanding and appreciation of composers such as Ockeghem, Obrecht and Josquin Des Prez; and their innovative performances from manuscript facsimiles (notably a late-night BBC Proms performance) have done much to illuminate issues of period performance in Renaissance polyphony. He is equally engaged with contemporary music, commissioning new work from composers as diverse as Christopher Fox, Joanna Marsh, Robert Saxton and Stevie Wishart.
Dr Wickham began his musical education as a chorister at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle where, as well as singing daily services. He continued his education at Oxford University, where he was a choral scholar at Christ Church Cathedral, and King’s College, London, where he received his PhD. He has throughout his career maintained a busy schedule both as conductor and academic. Soon after leaving Oxford he established the vocal ensemble The Clerks, with which he has made over two dozen recordings, and winning awards such as the Gramophone Early Music Award. He brings to his work with children’s choirs a formidable range of skills and expertise: in vocal technique, ensemble training, music theory and historical appreciation. His background as a singer and conductor in the centuries-old English Choral Tradition and in the academic world of Cambridge University provides him with an outstanding breadth of knowledge in the field of choral music.
Dr Wickham is much in demand as a choral coach, and has given workshops and masterclasses throughout the UK, USA and Europe; he was also for several years a guest conductor at the Tokyo Cantat Festival. With The Clerks he has run many collaborations with schools, most notably with the Tower Hamlets Music Education Service, resulting in performances at the Spitalfields Festival and in Cambridge.
Helen studied at the Royal College of Music (where she gained postgraduate diplomas in singing and teaching) before embarking on a career as soloist, ensemble singer and coach. Her work with young people ranges from coaching the choir of Great St Mary’s and the London Oratory School, to teaching students in Cambridge, London and Birmingham. Highlights of Helen’s performing career include recitals at Wigmore Hall and her solo debut at the BBC Proms; staged productions with Sir Simon Rattle at the Salzburg Festival (Rameau, Les Boréades – Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment) and the Berlin Philharmonie (Bernstein Wonderful Town, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra); and appearances worldwide with numerous vocal ensembles including The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, Gabrieli Consort, The Clerks and I Fagiolini.
Simon Kirk was born in York and began his musical training as a chorister at York Minster under Philip Moore. He went on to read Music at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar. Posts at Gloucester Cathedral (Organ Scholar, under Andrew Nethsingha) and Beechwood Park School, Hertfordshire (Director of Music) followed, before Simon took up the position of Director of Music at St John’s College School, Cambridge in 2007. There, he continues to direct an outstanding team of approximately 40 music teachers in delivering an enormously vibrant Music programme to children aged between 4 and 13, which includes approximately 60 concerts per year and 35 instrumental and choral ensembles rehearsing weekly. Simon is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO) and a previous qualifier for the Interpretation Competition at the St Albans International Organ Competition. Simon has performed as a soloist or accompanist at many venues in the UK and abroad and in the Edinburgh and Three Choirs’ festivals. In 2014-15, Simon was President of the MMA (now MTA), the largest and longest-established association of Music teachers in the UK. Simon is married to Sophie and they have an eleven year-old daughter. In his spare time, Simon enjoys being in the kitchen, in the garden or on the golf course.
Alex is currently the Children’s Music Director and Cover Conductor on Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Mary Poppins in London. He is also a Musical Director with the National Youth Music Theatre, and the Assistant Musical Director at Milton Keynes Chorale. As a pianist he regularly works with the CBSO Chorus and Youth Chorus, the National Children’s Choir, Oxford Pro Musica and Phoenix Chorale, as well with choral groups around the UK, and for auditions and masterclasses in the West End. He frequently deputises as an organist, having accompanied at cathedrals throughout the UK and toured throughout Europe and America.
Alex was part of the coaching team on the first Oxford and Cambridge Singing School course. Formerly Head of Academic Music at Stowe School, he was the Composer, Musical Director and Orchestrator for the Cambridge Footlights whilst reading Music and holding the organ scholarship at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he worked with the college’s Girls’ Choir for four years.
Thomas Allery has been Director of Music and Organist at St Mary-le-Bow since February 2018. He enjoys a varied career spanning work as an organist and choral director, continuo playing, research and teaching.
Alongside his role here, he is also the assistant Director of Music at the Temple Church where he is responsible for the musical education of the choristers. From 2014-19, Thomas was Director of Chapel Music at Worcester College, Oxford.
Thomas graduated with Distinction from the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music, London, in 2014. At the organ, Thomas is at home playing a variety of repertoire, and is currently working on a project on organ composers of the City of London.
Dr Simon Jackson
Dr Simon Jackson is Director of Music at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, which he combines with his work as an Organist and Conductor at Little St Mary’s, Cambridge. Simon began his musical training as a Chorister at York Minster and moved to Cambridge in 2002 to study at Jesus College, where he was awarded a Choral Scholarship. After his undergraduate studies, he spent a year in Peterborough, singing as a lay clerk, before returning to Cambridge to continue his academic studies. He has a PhD on the musical interests of the 17th Century Metaphysical Poet George Herbert and is pursuing his academic studies alongside his work as a freelance musician in Cambridge.
Samantha Wickham studied Classics at university before working in HR management for many years within the banking and insurance industry. Samantha is responsible for the business management, marketing and administration of the Singing School. She and Edward have three children and they are passionate about giving children the opportunity to explore classical music in a fun and rewarding way.
Ben read Music at St. Catharine’s College Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar. He is now a Musical Director and Composer based in London, writing and arranging for theatre, ﬁlm, and for choirs. He was Musical Supervisor for Tooting Arts Club’s oﬀ-Broadway transfer of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street after a sell-out run in the West End; the production set in a pie and mash shop won ‘Best Musical’ at the Oﬀ West-End Awards, and gave Ben a Drama Desk nomination. He recently collaborated with the same creative team to bring Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet to the new Boulevard Theatre in Soho, re-orchestrating the score and earning him an Oﬃe Nomination for Best Musical Direction. Within the UK opera scene, Ben has MD’d tours of La Bohème, Tosca, Madame Butterﬂy, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte among others.
In 2017 he was the Genesis Sixteen conducting scholar, studying under Harry Christophers. He now works with choirs around London and regularly with actors in training. Ben has previously taught at LAMDA, The Royal Academy of Music, Arts Ed, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Birmingham School of Acting, Oxford School of Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, and is a tutor for the Oxford & Cambridge Singing School.
Other theatre credits: Les Miserables (West End & UK Tour), Show Boat (West End), Everybody’s Talking about Jamie (West End), Broken Wings (West End & Middle East Tour), The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (NYMT), I Am Thomas (Told By An Idiot UK Tour), Trial By Laughter (Simon Friend Entertainment UK Tour), Hansel & Gretel, Our Town and Korczak (Rose Theatre, Kingston), Assassins (Crescent Theatre, Birmingham), Ragtime (ArtsEd), Cyrano de Bergerac, Hello Again and Little Shop of Horrors (LAMDA)
A recent student of Eton College under the music tutelage of Christopher Goodwin and David Goode respectively, and now reading Physics at The Queen’s College, Oxford with an Organ Scholarship at Worcester College studying under Christopher Wilson and Stephen Darlington. Experienced with a large range of choral and orchestral ensembles, as both director and instrumentalist (organ, piano, voice, violin), including all from piano trios and string quartets to jazz groups to full symphony and chamber orchestras.
George was born in Manchester in 2001, and his passion for music was kindled in earnest when he became a chorister at Manchester Cathedral. He joined Chetham’s School of Music at this time too, where he studied the trumpet after leaving the cathedral choir. George spent four years at St John’s College, Cambridge, first as an organ scholar studying Music and German, and latterly as Assistant Organist. George is now the Assistant Director of Music at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. In 2021 he won first prize and the accompanist’s prize in Clare College’s biennial song competition, and in 2023 he won the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition. George is now living in London and working as a freelance pianist, organist and director. He works regularly as an accompanist at the Royal Academy of Music and with Kantos Chamber Choir, and as a coach with The Oxford and Cambridge Singing School and the Cambridge Choral Academy. He has enjoyed recent collaborations with the Gabrieli Consort (Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius), the Royal Northern College of Music (Bernstein’s Mass) and English National Opera (Britten’s Peter Grimes).
Originally a Choral Scholar reading History at Christ’s College, Cambridge, Rebecca toured widely with the University Chamber Choir, making recordings for BBC television and radio and singing at Salzburg, Paris and Edinburgh Festival’s. Leading solo roles include Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) Gilbert and Sullivan (Duchess of Plaza Toro, Lady Psyche) and Oratorio (The Messiah, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Rossini’s Petit Messe Solenelle). Rebecca is singing teacher to the choristers of Norwich Cathedral and has worked on voice research projects with the Institute of Education. She is Singing Animateur for Ely Cathedral, conducting the Cathedral’s childrens’ choir, the Ely Imps. Rebecca runs workshops and community projects for all ages, recently forming a village choir leading to a performance of Faure’s Requiem. She started the winter only choir , ‘Winter Tonic’ to ‘sing people through’ the darker, clocks back to clocks forward, months.
Ana-Maria Rincon attended the Guildhall School of Music on a scholarship where she specialised in Early Music. In her final year she was awarded the Celia Mizony prize and along with her group ‘Musikfreunde’ won the Early Music Network Competition.
Ana-Maria’s recent work in opera includes performances of The Fairy Queen and Medee with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, Handel’s Tamerlano, Monteverdi’s Poppea, Orfeo, and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with Teatro Verdi di Pisa. Her extensive concert work includes many European tours, a recording of Handel’s Rinaldo with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music; concerts in Russia with The Dufay Collective, solo cantatas with the ensemble Florilegium and a tour of Europe singing Handel’s solo motet “Silete Venti” with the E.U.B.O.
Ana-Maria and the conductor Laurence Cummings have performed together in many venues around Europe including Norway, Italy and France. They have performed recitals at the London Handel Festival and have recorded a CD of Handel duets and solos, entitled Love Handel. Most recently Ana Maria has joined forces with the violinist Julia Bishop and harpsichordist Howard Beach creating a new group ‘Purcell’s Muse’ performing, in their unique way, all the baroque greats.
Katy Silverman is Assistant Director of Music at St Mary’s Church, Putney, where she is responsible for directing the children’s choir and accompanying regular services.
As an undergraduate, Katy studied Music at Worcester College, Oxford and was the first female organ scholar of the college. She accompanied and directed the chapel choir, featuring on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday Worship’ and performing in various cathedrals including St Paul’s, Gloucester and St Alban’s. Katy also gained her Associateship diploma of the Royal College of Organists during this time.
After graduating, Katy qualified as a secondary school teacher and taught music for several years before returning to the organ. She has held several church jobs and was the 2016-17 Guildford Cathedral organ scholar. She now performs as a recitalist and accompanist and teaches a range of piano and organ students alongside her work at St Mary’s Putney.
Katy recently graduated with Distinction from the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music, London, where she studied the organ with David Graham and specialised in improvisation with Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin.
Alison Cooke (Stampe)
Alison Cooke (Stamp)
Alison read Music at Somerville College Oxford where she was a founder member of the Clerkes of Oxenford and later of the Sixteen and the Tallis Scholars (with whom her recordings include the solo part in the Allegri Miserere).
She was Y2 class teacher in Prep department of Notting Hill and Ealing High School where she later became Director of Music in the Senior school.
After singing full-time and then taking a break for children, she became Director of Music and Y4 class teacher at Russell House School, Sevenoaks class where she subsequently became Head teacher. Her association with Russell House lasted 25 years.
After moving to Oxford in 2012, she became Choristership Assistant at Radley College, teaching singing, general musicianship, theory and sight-singing to the probationers, and working with the Choristers, a post she held for ten years.
Hope McNamara Sear
Originally from Canada, Hope completed her degree in Music (specialising in classical voice performance) at the University of Western Ontario. During her undergraduate degree she won an award to spend her third year on exchange at the Royal College of Music in London, UK.
Hope’s love for choral music and stage musicals began during her time at St Mary’s Choir School in her hometown of London, Ontario. She began her professional stage career at the age of 17, playing the role of Young Belle in A Christmas Carol at The Grand Theatre, and then went on to act, sing and dance on many stages in Ontario.
After graduating from the Musical Theatre course at the Royal Academy of Music, Hope worked successfully for a number of years onstage (both in the UK and at sea) and then broadened her acting experience by training in Meisner at The Actor’s Temple. She also features as part of the chorus in the film version of The Magic Flute, directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Now based in Oxford, she is the singing teacher for the Cathedral Choristers at Christ Church, and is the Vocal Coach/Music Director for Stepping Stone Performing Arts. She also teaches singing at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London.
Tim Woodford began his musical training as a chorister at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle then at Hurstpierpoint College, West Sussex, where he became a choral scholar, organist of the weekday morning services and leader of the school orchestra (violin). Tim then went on to study music at Surrey University where he specialised in choral conducting, singing, piano and organ and became a choral scholar and Lay-clerk at Guildford Cathedral.
Tim has conducted and performed on the piano and organ in prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican and The Vatican and has performed several times on BBC television. Three years ago he trained choristers at Crediton Parish church where one of his choristers won the prestigious BBC Girl Chorister of the year (2014). In 2015 two out of the four national finalists are once again choristers from his church.
Tim has conducted many choirs in Surrey, including The Surrey Youth choir, Surrey Children’s choir and three Choral Societies. He is the Director of Music here at St. Nicolas Church, Guildford where he has formed a partnership with the University of Surrey with choral scholarships. Future plans include a children’s choir and the restoration of the St. Nicolas organ. Tim is also a composer and arranger having had works performed on both BBC Radio and on CD.
Alexander Berry took up the position of Director of Music at Great St Mary’s in September 2023. At GSM he is responsible for the recruitment, training, and nurture of the large groups of children and adults who make up the church choirs. Before arriving at GSM, Alex was the Organist and Director of Music at Bradford Cathedral for nearly seven years. During his time at Bradford, Alex conducted the choir in concert with the City of London Sinfonia, European Union Chamber Orchestra, VOCES8, the Black Dyke Band, and on tour in Germany.
Alex began his musical training as a chorister at Lichfield Cathedral. He was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he was the Organ Scholar. After graduating, Alex spent two years as Assistant Organist to Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir, followed by a further two years as Assistant Organist at Magdalen College, Oxford. At Magdalen, Alex divided his time between playing for daily services in the College Chapel during university term time and, as Tutor to the Choristers at Magdalen College School, taught a programme of theory and musicianship to the choristers.
Alex is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and is in demand as a conductor, organist, and singer. He has given concerts in venues across the UK, as well as in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, and Russia.
Thomas Neal is a musicologist, teacher, and conductor based in Oxford. Tom took his BA and MPhil degrees in Musicology from Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied with Iain Fenlon and was the John Stewart of Rannoch Scholar in Sacred Music. Tom has researched and written widely on music and culture in early modern Italy, with a particular focus on the sources and patronage of sacred music in sixteenth-century Rome. Tom is currently researching a biography of Giovanni Pierluigi ‘da Palestrina’ and curating a catalogue raisonné of the composer’s works and their sources. Since graduating, Tom has developed a career in education and in 2018 he was appointed Director of Music at New College School, Oxford, one of the UK’s leading preparatory schools and home of the world-renowned choristers of New College. Tom is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and holds an MEd degree in Educational Leadership and Management. He lives in Oxford with his wife and their three children.