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Departmental Teaching Staff
Director of Music - Timothy P Venvell MA ARCO
Richard Bolton grew up in Birmingham and Belfast, singing in the cathedral choir of St. Anne’s, Belfast and attending King Edward’s School, where he developed a dual interest in classical music (playing the ‘cello) and popular styles (on the guitar).
Following his music degree at Christ Church, Oxford University, he spent 17 years working as a freelance musician and peripatetic teacher before studying for a PGCE at the Institute of Education, London in 2002. He has been teaching at RGS since 2006.
Previous teaching included outreach work with Community Music, London, teaching improvisation to Post Graduate students at the Guildhall, and as a peripatetic guitar teacher at St. Paul’s Girls’ School and Brunel University, among many other educational establishments.
Performances included theatrical work for the National Theatre and the RSC and touring with the Besht Tellers and Opera Circus; most of the UK’s major jazz festivals, the Proms and Ronnie Scott’s. Published recordings have included June Tabor’s CDs A Quiet Eye and Rosa Mundi, three cds with maverick bluesman Billy Jenkins, two collections of traditional and original duos with folk fiddler Pete Cooper, and a disc of original jazz quintet compositions, City Life. Commercial recordings include work for Rolf Harris and the soundtrack to Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park.
Most notably, he has every so often over the last twelve years accompanied the world-famous opera singer Sir Willard White in his shows exploring the life and work of Paul Robeson.
Further study has included a Post Graduate Certificate in Jazz and Rock from the Guildhall School of Music, an M.Mus. from Sheffield University awarded for research into jazz improvisation and, most recently, a further PG Cert from Hertfordshire University in Music Technology.
Instrumental Teaching Staff
Flute, Saxophone - Claire McInerney
Claire studied the flute from the age of nine but it was the saxophone that took her off to London to study at Trinity College of Music, gaining a BMus degree. During her time there she was also a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra which has been the launching pad for many freelance musicians.
She continues to enjoy a varied freelance career on saxophone, flute and clarinet, having performed in over 25 West End musicals to date and with a variety of Orchestras and Big Bands including the John Wilson Orchestra, LSO, CBSO, RPO, BBC Concert Orchestra, RTE national orchestra of Ireland, Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Back to Basie Orchestra, Bert Kaempfert Orchestra and the BBC Big Band.
She has been lucky enough to appear as a member of the house band on several TV shows including Parkinson, The X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and many Royal Variety Performances for ITV.
She has recorded for many artists and film and TV soundtracks, most notably "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and Dame Shirley Bassey's latest album "Hello Like Before", both recorded at the famous EMI Abbey Rd studios.
Claire very much enjoys the huge variety of a freelance career in music taking her from the intimate and famous Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club to the vast and impressive Royal Albert Hall via Glastonbury and Wembley Arena amongst others.
Claire has been a member of the peripatetic instrumental teaching team at the RGS since the year 2000. She hopes she can offer a real insight into the freelance music business for the aspiring and talented young musicians at the RGS and inspire an enduring love and appreciation of all different styles of music.
Oboe - Heather Jordan
Heather studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Janet Craxton. She joined the BBC Training Orchestra on leaving college and then spent several seasons with English National Opera, playing oboe and cor anglais.
After having her family, she continued to play on a free lance basis and developed a broader teaching career. Currently she teaches oboe at several schools including the RGS and she is a regular deputy teacher at the Junior Royal College of Music.
She enjoys accompanying whenever possible, and has recently retired from choosing the oboe syllabus for the Associated board exams – though so far the hope that either activity might give her pupils an unfair advantage is unproven!
Saxophone, Clarinet - Alison Downie
Alison Downie studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Sidney Fell gaining her GRNCM and PPRNCM and was awarded her Post Graduate Certificate of Education after studying at Breton Hall College in Wakefield .
Since 1986, Alison has been a full-time woodwind instructor for Bucks County Council, teaching clarinet, flute saxophone and piano. In this capacity, she has also directed chamber ensembles in the Purcell Room on the South Bank as part of the National Festival of Music for Youth being presented with ‘Outstanding Performance’ awards for both Clarinet Choir and Clarinet Quartet and ‘Highly Commended’ for Wind Quintet. She is now freelance and working for the newly formed Chiltern Music Academy.
In 1983, Alison joined the West London Sinfonia as principal clarinet and was then invited to become principal clarinet of the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Butcher, performing with them the Mozart, Finzi and Copland clarinet concertos. and most recently the Weber Clarinet Concerto. Alison has also worked with Geoffrey Brand for R. Smith Band Publications recording as principal clarinet, with the BBC Concert Orchestra for a specially commissioned piece and does regular ad hoc work in and around the London area.
Saxophone - Jay Craig
Edinburgh-born baritone saxist Jay Craig’s infatuation with the instrument began at the tender age of fourteen when he was taken to hear Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and met the man who was to have such a profound influence on his playing - Harry Carney.
Later, following a four year stint in the National Youth jazz Orchestra combined with several years under the stern baton of veteran bandleader Tommy Sampson at the Glasgow Rangers Club, Jay won a scholarship to Boston’s famous Berklee College of Music. After two years he left to join the Buddy Rich Orchestra, touring America and Europe solidly for the next three years.
Upon moving to London in 1987, Jay freelanced in the West End as a theatre musician, did a couple of cruises on the QE2 and a season in Monte Carlo with the Johnny Howard Band before joining the BBC Big Band in 1992.
A founder member of the Echoes of Ellington, Back To Basie and Solid Senders orchestras he is currently the baritone sax man in the Syd Lawrence and John Wilson orchestras as well as the BBC Big Band while continuing to deputise regularly in various theatre pits. His favourite musicians include Harry Carney, Artie Shaw, Sy Oliver, Johnny Hodges, Jerry Gray, Kenny Baker, Luis Arcaraz, Bruce Johnstone, Duke Ellington and Woody Herman.
Over the years Jay has worked with many of his favourite artists including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Cleo Laine, Robert Farnon, Shirley Bassey, Natalie Cole, Billy May, Bob Florence, Lennie Niehaus, Elmer Bernstein, Les Brown, Ray Anthony, Lalo Schiffrin, Sir John Dankworth, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Gerald Wilson, Mel Torme, Sir Simon Rattle, Jessye Norman, Sammy Davis Jr. and a host of other artists as well as The London Symphony Orchestra, The BBC Concert and Scottish Symphony Orchestras, The CBSO, The London Philharmonic Orchestra and The London Sinfonietta.
Jay is particularly proud of the John Wilson Orchestra soundtrack for the recent movie about Bobby Darin, “Beyond The Sea”…. a very happy experience.
Martin Hellewell started his brass playing as a young member of the Salvation Army on Flugel Horn and later moved on to Tenor Horn.
In 1975 he enlisted into the Royal Air Force and after completing training with the RAF School of Music successfully auditioned for a position with the RAF Central Band as a French Horn player. His career took him to many parts of the world including Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Canada, Cyprus, Jordan, Gibraltar and many other European countries. Apart from a three-year tour with the RAF Germany Band and a four-year posting to the RAF Music Services Headquarters as Engagement Coordinator, he served his entire career with the prestigious RAF Central Band. In 1994 he was appointed as the bands Drum Major and in 1997 gained the LRSM in Bandmastership.
On retirement from the Royal Air Force in September 2003 he decided to utilise his teaching skills in a completely different sphere of work and now, as well as brass teaching, enjoys being his own boss as a Driving Instructor. He has successfully combined this with his brass teaching since then and has had many brass pupils that have also trained to drive with him.
Andy Rogers is a versatile music leader with 20 years’ experience working with children, young people and community groups in Buckinghamshire. As a conductor, Andy has led ensembles to award-winning performances at the National Festival of Music for Youth and the National Concert Band Festival. He has written more than 150 works for orchestras, bands and choirs and graced the concert programmes of the London Symphony Orchestra, RAF Central Band and Firebird Ensemble as well as numerous local ensembles. His suite for solo instruments ‘Switch on to Jazz’ can still be found in the dustier corners of a few remote music shops around the world. Away from music, Andy’s perfect day would be geocaching with his wife and two children before coming off the bench to score a last-minute winner for Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup Final.
Paul Speed has taught at The RGS since 2005. He studied music at Goldsmiths’ College, London for a Bachelor of Music degree before continuing his trumpet studies with Paul Cosh and Paul Archibald.
As a freelance trumpet player Paul has performed abroad with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and toured Europe and Asia with the German based orchestra Philharmonie die Nationen.
At home Paul has played with various orchestras including Orchestra of St John’s, Smith Square London Concert Orchestra and The Britten Sinfonia. He has also toured with the Carl Rosa Opera Company and the national tour of Joseph.
As a soloist Paul has recently performed Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.2 and Vivaldi’s double trumpet concerto. Paul also teaches at Wellington College and The Abbey School, Reading and when not working enjoys running, but unlike his name, not particularly rapidly!
Matthew Gibbs B.Mus (Hons) PGCE
Matthew Gibbs studied trumpet at Cardiff University with Andrew Cuff and Tom Proctor, gaining a Bachelor of Music (Honours) degree, and then completed his Post Graduate Certificate of Education qualification through the Open University. He continued studies with Philippe Schartz, principal trumpet in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
In 1997, he joined the staff of West Glamorgan Music Service as a brass teacher. Between 2000 and 2009, he was conductor of the successful West Glamorgan Youth Brass Band and helped steer them to many competition successes.
In September 2009, Matthew joined the staff of Buckinghamshire Music Service as a brass teacher, and as conductor of the Elementary Wind Band and Youth Brass Ensemble.
He played with both the National Youth Orchestra and Brass Band of Wales for seven years, and has been a busy freelance player for many years. Matthew plays with a number of orchestras in London, including West London Sinfonia, London International Orchestra and EC4 Orchestra, performing at venues across the capital including St. Bride’s church, Fleet Street, St. James’ church, Piccadilly and Royal Festival Hall. He is also a member of the London Welsh Brass Ensemble.
Steven's musical education began at the age of nine both as a choral scholar at Wakefield Cathedral and playing with local brass bands near his home in Yorkshire. Having played with the Black Dyke, Brighouse and Rastrick, Fairey and Grimethorpe Colliery bands, Steven still enjoys playing with his local band; Rothwell Temperance, on Christmas day every year!
Steven studied with Lindsay Shilling at the Royal College of Music and spent a year of his undergraduate course at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, studying with Dietmar Küblböck and Ian Bousfield from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Whilst in Austria, he was supported by the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Julius Isserlis Scholarship and at this time, played with the Hofmusikkapelle Orchestra, reached the final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Soloist competition and was selected as a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra.
Following on from his undergraduate degree Steven embarked upon a Masters Degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A Scholar at the GSMD; Steven benefitted from the tutorage of Eric Crees, Peter Gane and Simon Wills.
His orchestral experience is extensive and includes trials for Principal Trombone with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Sub Principal Trombone with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and performances with the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC Concert, City of Birmingham and Bournemouth Symphony orchestras and also Opera North, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Performing with the National Symphony Orchestra, Steven has enjoyed working with artists such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Katherine Jenkins, Hayley Westenra, Russell Watson and Aled Jones.
Steven also enjoys regularly playing in several West End musicals and has performed in Evita (Adelphi Theatre), Spamalot (Palace Theatre), Chicago (Cambridge Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Adelphi Theatre), Sister Act (London Palladium), Oliver! (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre), Wizard of Oz (London Palladium), A Chorus Line (London Palladium), Urinetown (Apollo Theatre), Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Wicked (Apollo Victoria) and was delighted to be asked to play in the 50th anniversary production of West Side Story. TV credits include John Barrowman’s ‘Tonight’s the Night’ (BBC 2010), ‘That Day We Sang’ by Victoria Wood (BBC 2014) and the Christmas Special of ‘Made In Chelsea’ (E4 2011) with Barbican Brass.
Cello - Sarah Willis ABSM LTCL
Violin, Viola – Marilyn Vanryne
Classical Guitar - Gareth Holwill
Gareth Holwill was born in St. Albans. He attended Uppingham School where he was a Music Scholar and member of the Chapel Choir. Later, he read Music at the University of Bristol where he also took an MA in Composition. At Bristol he studied composition with Geoff Poole, John Pickard and Neal Farwell. Subsequently, Gareth undertook post-graduate studies in guitar at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with John Mills, Eleftheria Kotzia and Chris Stell. Gareth has partaken in master classes with some of the world's leading guitarists, including David Russell, Denis Azabagic, Xuefei Yang and Craig Ogden. In 2008 he gave the world premiere of the Sonata for Guitar by Tim Benjamin at Christ Church, Oxford. During the summer of 2010 Gareth was invited to perform for the great French guitarist-composer, Roland Dyens, at the West Dean International Guitar Festival. Gareth divides his time between performing, composing and teaching for the High Wycombe Music Centre.
Electric Guitar - Gary Sculpher, Gerry Power
Iain Lemon studied Timpani & Percussion at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama. During this period he was involved with local and international groups and orchestras. On moving to London, he continued his musical career which involved theatre work and international performances. He has built percussion clubs and groups inside and outside school throughout Buckinghamshire, from Boys’ Brigade marching bands to Samba bands and tuned percussion ensembles. These ensembles have performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Stonor Park, Waddesdon Manor and other major venues. Iain continues to play for musical societies, orchestras and is also part of a popular and successful local band. He offers grade exams if required to support the overall discipline, technique and fun offered by playing percussion instruments.
Piano, Theory - Stephen Armstrong
Stephen Armstrong was born in London and educated at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. It was at this time that he began studying the organ with Richard Hickox and later with Alastair Ross. Whilst still at school, he became assistant organist at High Wycombe Parish church.
Stephen studied at the Royal College of Music before winning the organ scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he read music. Under his direction, the Chapel Choir made two recordings of church music – “Music for Christmas” and Music for Evensong”.
In 1977, he founded the St. Margaret’s Singers who, in 1979, were renamed the Fairhaven Singers. He was appointed conductor of the High Wycombe Choral Society and the Felice Orchestra in 1984. In the same year, he became chorus master of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Later, in 1989, he became President of the Fairhaven Singers. As well as numerous appearances in Cambridge, he has conducted at the Royal Festival Hall, the Queens Elizabeth Hall, St John’s Smith Square and in Edinburgh and Oxford.
He now performs regularly in the USA. Alongside his conducting career, he has built up a large piano and organ teaching practice, focused particularly on the RGS.
Singing - Cathy Langdale
Cathy read Maths at Oxford University, where she held a Choral Scholarship at The Queen’s College. She then went to St Catharine’s College Cambridge, and sang in their Chapel Choir whilst studying for a PGCE in Maths. After a couple of years teaching at St Paul’s Girls School in London, and singing with the Holst Singers, she went on to study singing at Trinity College of Music, taking a Post-Graduate Diploma and the LTCL Teachers’ Diploma.
On leaving Trinity, she did a great deal of solo singing in oratorios and concerts across the country, and on tours to France, Belgium and the Czech Republic. As a chorister, she sang often as an extra with the BBC Singers. She and her college pianist formed a regular duo which still continues.
She set up the singing departments at Godolphin & Latymer School, and at Dulwich College, sending two early students to the Royal Academy of Music. Cathy then spent four years with her family in Rome, teaching at the St George’s British International School. In Rome, she sang often with an Italian lutenist, giving recitals of English and Italian music, and gave a wide variety of concerts.
Cathy has been teaching at RGS since 2005, and has had wide experience of teaching boys through their vocal change. She also teaches at the two Dr Challoner’s Grammar Schools. She runs a close harmony group for girls, and often enters pupils for the local music festivals, both in solo and duet classes.
She belongs to several professional associations to inform her teaching, and works for the Bucks Music Service. As a teacher she uses three different exam boards, chosen according to her pupils’ skills and interests. She seeks to develop good musicianship in her pupils and actively encourages singing in other languages.
She lives in Chalfont St Giles where she directs the Church Choir.
The music recitals and concerts are truly first classParent Comment