Oxford Youth Choirs music staff 

Richard Vendome, Musical Director

Richard VendomeRichard founded the Oxford Girls' Choir in 1984 to fill a gap in Oxford's musical life, which at that time had many choral opportunities for boys, but few for girls. He had previously performed as a countertenor and directed choirs in Oxford and London. Over the past 25 years he has encouraged the choir to commission many new works from young composers.

Richard studied organ, piano and composition at the Royal College of Music, and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists before winning a scholarship to the Queen's College, Oxford, continuing his keyboard studies with James Dalton and later with Lady Susi Jeans. He won the James Ingham Halstead prize for his research into Tudor choral music under Prof Joseph Kerman, and edited Christ Church MS 89, a large source of 17th cent. keyboard music, under the supervision of Prof Denis Arnold. He is editor of the series Spanish Netherlands Keyboard Music and has taught techniques of composition and music history for Queen's and St Hilda's Colleges. His pioneering work on algorithms for the computerized editing and printing of music in the 1970s was among the first in its field. He has held British Technology Group and Leverhulme research fellowships at Oxford University, and was awarded the British Computer Society Medal in 1990.

Richard has performed as an organist and pianist both at home and abroad, most recently in Malta, Norway and the USA, and is organist of Littlemore Parish Church. He advises on the design and conservation of pipe organs, and has built instruments in Kidlington, Horton-cum-Studley and Gozo. He has a large practice as a singing teacher, and his special interests include the psychology of music and female musical traditions, such as the Venetian female choral tradition and Hildegard of Bingen. He is Artistic Director of Schola Pietatis Antonio Vivaldi ("Vivaldi's Women").

Penelope Martin-Smith, Vocal Consultant

Penelope ("Peps") read music at Goldsmiths' College, University of London, and has a diploma in singing from the Guildhall School of Music. She studied with Henry Herford and Jessica Cash. A coloratura soprano, her career as a performer and teacher spans the whole range of vocal music from medieval to modern, including American, English, French, German and Italian song. She is equally at home in plainchant, opera and jazz.

Her recordings include We're all in business now (Ramsbottom / Goodall), Songs for Unicorns, Music for Liner Days and The Song of the Rose (Gift of Music), and Classics for Cats (Past Times).

In the world of opera she is an experienced performer of Handel (Galatea in Acis and Galatea, Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare) and Mozart Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, Constanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Despina in Cosi fan Tutte, Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor, and both Susanna and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro). She has also sung Romantic and 20th century opera (Richard Strauss: Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Donizetti: Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda, Britten: Mrs Noah in Noyes Fludde and Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, and Tippett: Bella in The Midsummer Marriage).

In oratorio Penelope has performed the soprano solos in the Bach's St John and St Matthew Passions, Mass in B minor and Christmas Oratorio, Handel's Judas Maccabaeus and Messiah, Mozart's Mass in C minor and Requiem, Haydn's The Creation and The Seasons, Verdi's Requiem and Orff's Carmina Burana.
She is Vocal Director of Vivaldi's Women, and founded Canterbury Cathedral Garden Opera in 2008.

Camilla Stephenson, Associate Musical Director

Camilla studied music and education at Homerton College, Cambridge, where she also sang in the choir of Downing College and played the flute in the CUMS orchestra. She taught at The Hall School, Hampstead and St Andrew's School, Pangbourne before founding "Semiquavers" (music classes for pre-school age children) in 1991. Camilla teaches at the Oxford High School junior department.

Joyce Morris, Associate Musical Director

Joyce read music at Bristol University before returning to her native Leeds to teach at Lawnswood High School. The different positions that she held during her teaching career brought her into contact with young people across the complete school age range. Her last post before her retirement was as Director of Music in the Junior Department of Oxford High School. Under her direction the choir went from strength to strength and were finalists in the first BBC Songs of Praise Competition in 2003. She is the rehearsal accompanist for Woodstock Music Society and sings with Kidlington Church Choir. Her daughter Catherine was a founder member of Oxford Girls' Choir.

Rory McCleery, Associate Musical Director

Rory McCleery began his musical career as a chorister at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh under Timothy Byram-Wigfield and Matthew Owens. He studied music at Oxford University as both Organ and Domus Academic scholar of St Peter’s College, where he directed the college choir in services and concerts, while also deputising in the choirs of New College, Magdalen and Christ Church. He was awarded a 1st Class degree and completed an MSt in Musicology with Distinction before starting a D.Phil on the French Renaissance composer Jean Mouton. He combines this with a Lay Clerkship at New College.

Rory currently studies singing with Giles Underwood, having previously learnt with Nicholas Clapton and Rupert Forbes. He has also participated in masterclasses and consultation sessions with James Bowman, Teresa Cahill, Robert Rice, Carys Lane and David Lowe. Recent solo performances have included Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Magnificat, St John Passion and Cantata BWV 80 Ein Feste Burg, Handel’s Messiah, and Britten’s Abraham and Isaac with tenor Dan Norman, and operatic credits include ‘Spirit’ (Purcell - Dido and Aeneas) for Philip Pickett and The Musician of the Globe, and ‘Lichas’ (Handel – Hercules) for New Chamber Opera Studio. Rory has also recently completed the first part of an ‘apprenticeship’ with John-Eliot Gardiner and The Monteverdi Choir, performing the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 throughout Europe and singing solos for concerts in the Duomo in Pisa and the Concertgebouw in Bruges.

Rory is also an experienced consort singer, and has worked with a variety of ensembles, most recently in collaboration with the lutenist Jakob Lindberg as part of the ‘Listening Gallery’ project at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Rory is also the musical director of The Marian Consort, an early music vocal group which has given concerts throughout the UK, has featured on BBC Radio 3’s ‘The Early Music Show’, and was a finalist in the 2009 YEMF Young Artists’ Competition. Their debut CD, of Spanish Renaissance polyphony, is available on Delphian Records from January 2011.




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