As a choir we aim to combine the highest standards of choral performance with an informal and friendly atmosphere, both in our rehearsals and concerts. Rehearsing weekly, our routine activity is preparing for our regular concerts for charitable causes. The choir also regularly sings at weddings and other special occasions.
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 Radio 3 and services on Radio 4, given concert tours in Ireland, France and Italy, and sung choral weekends in many of the great English Cathedrals.
In 2005 we were the winners of the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition.
About our conductor
Our conductor, Ben Sawyer, is quickly gaining an enviable reputation as a dynamic conductor and choir trainer, always able to draw the best from his singers. Having left his role of Head of Music at Tewkesbury School in August 2012, he has been in regular demand to lead workshops, start new choirs and conduct existing ones.
He has been Chorus Master for Gloucestershire Music’s Massed Chorus of 500 students which performed at the Royal Albert Hall in the ‘Music For Youth’ in November 2012. This has led to him being a founder conductor of the new Gloucestershire Youth Choir. Ben was also Assistant Conductor for Cheltenham Festival’s production of Benjamin Britten’s community opera, ‘Noye’s Fludde’, and he regularly conducts Tyndale Choral Society, Hanley Voices and Tewkesbury Voices. He was appointed as our Director in February 2015.
Aside from conducting, Ben sings countertenor. He is a member of the international award winning male voice a cappella group, The Songmen. With The Songmen, he has toured America, China, much of Europe and performs 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. Ben has been a lay clerk at Birmingham and Gloucester Cathedrals 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 met in George’s front room in Oriel Terrace from where the group derived its name. As numbers grew, Tim Morris was invited to take on the musical direction of the group, a role he undertook for over thirty years. During this time Tim worked hard to develop the choir’s sound and reputation and led the group to win the Choir of the Year competition in 2005.
We continued to rehearse for many years in George’s new home, Park House, Thirlestaine Road and the informal friendly atmosphere is a key feature of our group and one that we have managed to maintain even after George’s retirement in his 80s and the subsequent move to our current rehearsal venue in Montpellier.