As a choir we aim to achieve the highest standards of choral performance in an informal and friendly atmosphere, both in rehearsal and in concert.
We have performed with distinguished groups such as The Orlando Consort, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and I Fagiolini. We have also broadcast recitals on BBC Radio 3 and services on BBC Radio 4, given concert tours in Ireland, France, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy, and sung services in many of the great English cathedrals. We have also been invited to take part in various music festivals, including the prestigious Cheltenham International Festival of Music.
Back in 2005 we were the winners of the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition, and under the dynamic leadership of our current musical director, Ben Sawyer, who joined us in 2015, we have continued to perform to the highest level.
About our conductor
Ben Sawyer is quickly building a reputation as a dynamic choral conductor and vocal teacher. Since leaving classroom teaching in 2012, he has been in regular demand to lead workshops, start up new choirs, and develop existing groups.
Ben was Chorus Master for Gloucestershire Music’s Massed Chorus of 500 students when they performed at the Royal Albert Hall in Music For Youth in November 2012, which led to him becoming a Founder Conductor of the new Gloucestershire Youth Choir. He was also Assistant Conductor for Cheltenham Festival’s production of Benjamin Britten’s community opera Noye’s Fludde. He regularly conducts Tyndale Choral Society, Hanley Voices, and Tewkesbury Voices, and is Vocal Tutor to the choristers of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, based at Dean Close Preparatory School, in addition to teaching singing and leading vocal groups at Dean Close School.
Aside from conducting, Ben sings countertenor. He is a member of the international award-winning male-voice a cappella group The Songmen, with whom he has toured America, China, and much of Europe and performed regularly in the UK. He is also the group’s composer-in-residence and has had a number of his compositions and arrangements played on national radio. He has been a lay clerk at Birmingham Cathedral and Gloucester Cathedral and sings with Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, as well as being in demand as a countertenor soloist.
The Oriel Singers was founded in 1975 by George Mathers, an architect living in Cheltenham. Initially just a quartet, the original members of the choir met at George’s house in Oriel Terrace, a venue that gave the choir its name, and then continued to rehearse for many years in George’s new home in Thirlestaine Road.
As numbers grew, Tim Morris was invited to become Musical Director of the group, a post he held for over thirty years. It was while under Tim’s direction that The Oriels won the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition in 2005.
The choir now rehearses weekly in Montpellier, Cheltenham, and under the leadership of our current conductor, Ben Sawyer, who joined us in 2015, we continue to aspire to the highest level of musicianship and performance in an informal and friendly atmosphere.