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 and Three Choirs Festivals.
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 a dynamic choral conductor and choral animateur. He has been our musical director since February 2015, and he also leads Hanley Voices and Tyndale Choral Society. Ben is a founder conductor of the Gloucestershire Youth Choir and he set up the Gloucestershire Boys’ Choir.
Ben leads popular workshops and masterclasses, including for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and at the UK Choir Festival. He was a judge on the Sky One talent show, Sing: Ultimate A Cappella. He directed a major collaborative performance of Jonathan Dove’s For an Unknown Soldier in Tewkesbury Abbey in 2018 and conducted The Burning Boy, a community opera by Stephen McNeff, as part of the 2019 Three Choirs Festival.
In 2019, Ben was awarded the Joyner Cup by Cheltenham Arts Council in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts in Cheltenham.
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.
Ben sings with Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum. He is vocal tutor to the choristors, based at Dean Close Preparatory School, including BBC Young Chorister of the Year 2018, Cassian Pichler-Roca.
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.