Hallé Youth Choir Profiles
Hallé Youth Choir Director
Richard Wilberforce was appointed as Director of the Hallé Youth Choir in January 2012. He trained as a Choral Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge under David Hill and at the Royal College of Music under Ashley Stafford, and he now juggles an active career as a countertenor and composer, whilst emerging as one of the country’s most exciting young choral directors.
Richard is also the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Exon Singers, recognised as one of the country’s leading chamber choirs, and Director of the London-based Orlando Chamber Choir, who specialise in music from the Renaissance and Baroque Canons.
Richard became passionate about conducting from an early age, and began conducting the Croydon Parish Choir and Trinity Male Voice Choir before becoming Director of The Gentleman of St John’s. More recently, Richard directed the Choir of the American Cathedral in Paris and the Paris Choral Society, as well as founding the French vocal ensemble, Les Voix Filigranes who perform contemporary and renaissance repertoire in thought-provoking venues.
As a singer he has performed solo roles on many of Europe’s prestigious opera platforms, including the Staadtsoper Unter den Linden, Grand Theatre de Provence, Theatre du Capitole de Toulouse and Innsbrucker Landestheatre; under illustrious batons as Rene Jacobs, Christian Curnyn and Giulio Prandi. His role in Handel’s Belshazzar, which has recently been released by Harmonia Mundi, was praised for its ‘warm and delicate sound […], whose incursions, while never excessive, made a resounding impact’ (Anaclase).
He is also greatly in demand as a consort singer and works regularly with La Nuova Musica, The Dmitri Ensemble and English Voices amongst others. Much of his working week is spent singing in the choir of St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, as well as with those of Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.
As a composer, predominantly of choral music, Richard has had his works broadcast by the BBC and recorded. Recent commissions include a vocal work for eight soloists for the British Art Music Series called A Night’s Litany; and a chamber suite in commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the foundation of St John’s College, Cambridge entitled, Don’t Panic!.
Hallé Youth Choir Assistant Director
James Hendry is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music as a Répétiteur in the Vocal Studies department on the Masters Degree course. He received a First Class Honours BMUS degree from the college, studying as a pianist.
Before coming to study in Manchester, James was a student at Yorkshire Young Musicians (YYM), a programme which offers expert training to advanced young musicians, which is in partnership with Opera North and Leeds College of Music, and is funded by the DFES Music and Dance scheme.
James is widely know for his work as a conductor and accompanist specialising in the vocal repertoire from choral music to operetta and Grand Opera. He was also influential in setting up many choral and theatre groups for young people in his hometown of Kingston Upon Hull.
He works as a conductor and musical coordinator for the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival and has performed in many prestigious venues including The Royal Albert Hall, The Bridgewater Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and also has an upcoming recital in The Wigmore Hall. James is also an experienced singer and has performed as a tenor soloist for many choral societies and companies in and around Manchester.