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Hallé Choir Profiles


Choral Director

Matthew Hamilton

Matthew Hamilton is a regular collaborator with leading choirs across a broad repertoire. Recently appointed Choral Director at the Hallé, he is also Associate Director of London Symphony Chorus, and Musical Director of New London Chamber Choir and Reading Bach Choir.

Matthew read music at Oxford, before studying composition at the University of Manchester and choral conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He participated in masterclasses with some of Europe’s finest professional choirs, including Berlin Radio Choir and Netherlands Chamber Choir, and in 2010 won the Bramstrup Conducting Award (Denmark).

Matthew has prepared choirs for conductors including Fabio Luisi, Valery Gergiev, John Storgårds, Charles Dutoit, Thierry Fischer, David Robertson, John Wilson and Mark Minkowski, and for festivals including the Brighton Festival and BBC Proms, where he has worked on music from Birtwistle to the Pet Shop Boys. As a guest conductor, he has worked with BBC Symphony Chorus, ChorWerk Ruhr, and extensively with the BBC Singers, who he has conducted in concert at the Barbican, live for Radio 3 and television, and in the recording studio. He has chorus mastered or conducted first performances of many works by composers including Harrison Birtwistle, Brett Dean, Simon Holt, Eriks Esenvalds, Nico Muhly and Gabriel Jackson.

2014-15 saw Matthew make his conducting debut at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall with organist Wayne Marshall, appearances at the BBC Proms with London Symphony Chorus, a concert tour in Germany with ChorWerk Ruhr, and his first, critically acclaimed appearances with New London Chamber Choir. In the current season, he will appear with Choeur de Radio France in Paris, in addition to major choral projects in his first season as Choral Director at the Hallé.


Associate Hallé Choir Director

Frances Cooke

Frances Cooke is Associate Choir Director of the Hallé Choir. She has prepared the choir for numerous critically acclaimed performances, including that of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, under the direction of Sir Mark Elder and Andris Nelsons, and Elgar’s ‘The Apostles’, which won both the Choral category and the overall Recording of the Year in the 2013 BBC Music Magazine awards and the coveted Gramophone award for “Best Choral CD of the Year.

Frances is Chorus Director for the Chester Festival Chorus and has prepared them in a very diverse range of works, including world premières by John Tavener and John Harle, performed under eminent conductors Yan Pascal Tortelier, Vasily Petrenko, Harry Christophers, Martyn Brabbins, John Wilson and the late Richard Hickox CBE. During Frances’ tenure the Chester Festival Chorus has been invited on four occasions to sing at the BBC Proms, an exceptional accolade for an independent, amateur regional choir.

Frances is Chorus Master for the St Endellion Festival in Cornwall, for both the Easter and Summer Festivals. She is a tutor for the Association of British Choral Directors and has taught in the vocal faculty at the Royal Northern College of Music, and is much in demand nationally as a leader of choral workshops. Frances has worked with the BBC Symphony Chorus, Huddersfield Choral Society, the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and the Manchester Chamber Choir.

Frances read music at Clare College Cambridge where she was a choral scholar under John Rutter. She subsequently studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Marjorie Thomas and then enjoyed a busy career performing and recording with the leading chamber choirs in the UK, including The Sixteen, Tallis Scholars, Choir of the Enlightenment and the BBC Singers. She also sings with and directs BBC Radio 4’s Daily Service Singers.


Vocal Coach

Margaret McDonald

Originally from Grimsby, Margaret studied at the Royal Northern College of Music where she was awarded both the Curtis Gold Medal and the Elsie Sykes Fellowship. After further study in Milan, her career was launched with three seasons spent with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Glyndebourne Touring Opera, followed by a period of time at Opera North.

For a number of years she taught at both the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music, combining this with a highly successful operatic and concert career which, to date, has encompassed a varied and impressive range of performances and commitments.

She now combines a busy singing schedule with her vocal consultancy work, being in demand for masterclasses, workshops, coaching and adjudicating.


Accompanist

David Jones

David Jones is Accompaniment Co-ordinator and Tutor in Accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music. He has worked at the College as a Staff Pianist since 1996, having previously been Junior Fellow in Repetiteur Studies. He is also Deputy Head of Junior RNCM.

David comes from the Wirral and studied at the University of Wales before postgraduate work at the RNCM. His teachers include Jana Frenklova and John Wilson. Between 1993 and 1996 he lectured at University College, Salford.

David is pianist for the Hallé Choir and musical director of the Alteri Chamber Choir, an examiner for the ABRSM, and teaches on the Art of Song Summer Course (Ampleforth School).

David’s interest in contemporary music has led him to commission, perform and record much new music, most recently a disc of the complete piano music of Judith Bingham. He recently completed a PhD at Manchester University researching the music of Jeffrey Lewis and has already recorded three discs of Lewis’s piano, vocal and chamber music.


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