Wells Cathedral Choir
was hailed in 2011 by an international jury from Gramophone Magazine as the greatest choir with children in the world, and the sixth greatest overall. The choir celebrated its 1100th birthday in 2009: boys first sang at Wells Cathedral in 909 and the full choral tradition dates back over 800 years. In 1994 the choral foundation at Wells was enriched by the addition of girl choristers. Today the choir consists of 18 boy choristers, 18 girl choristers and 12 Vicars Choral (the men of the choir). The boys and girls usually sing separately with the Vicars Choral but occasionally come together for larger events and tours.
The choir is at the heart of the worshipping life of the Cathedral, and sings a wide repertoire of music ranging from the Renaissance period to the present day. It sings throughout the cathedral’s festival, launched in June 2008: new music wells, giving a number of premieres as well as featuring music from the previous forty years. It has premiered works from some of today’s finest composers, including Judith Bingham, Geoffrey Burgon, Bob Chilcott, Jonathan Dove, Gabriel Jackson, John Joubert, Sir James MacMillan CBE, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE (former Master of the Queen’s Music), Tarik O’Regan, John Rutter, Howard Skempton, and Sir John Tavener.
Wells Cathedral Choir broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and its innovative recordings over the last eleven years for Hyperion Records and Regent Records have won international praise: “wonderfully blended, and must rank as one of the top cathedral sounds outside London” (BBC Music Magazine); “currently enjoying a superb top line” (The Observer), and has had two discs made Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine which called the choir “probably the finest English cathedral choir at the moment” in “world-class form”.
As well as the liturgical musical repertoire the choir performs larger scale choral works in concert, with recent collaborations including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Britten War Requiem), Jools Holland and his band (Jools Holland Mass), Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society (Britten St Nicolas and War Requiem), Aled Jones, Dame Felicity Lott, Dame Emma Kirkby, James Bowman CBE, and Wells Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra (at a royal gala concerts at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and St James’s Palace, London). In September 2014 the choristers sang with the Berlin Radio Choir and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle OM, in a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the BBC Proms. Shortly afterwards they sang with The Script on the ITV Pride of Britain awards, which was screened to an audience of five million viewers.
is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Wells Cathedral, having previously been Organist and Master of the Music at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, and Sub Organist of Manchester Cathedral. He was President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association from 2010-13. In addition to being responsible for the 1100 year old choral tradition of daily worship at Wells Cathedral, Matthew has toured, broadcast, and recorded extensively with Wells Cathedral Choir which, in 2011, was named by an international jury for Gramophone as the best choir in the world with children, and the sixth greatest overall. He recently prepared the choristers for Bach’s St Matthew Passion, with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle for the 2015 BBC Proms. Matthew is the Founder Artistic Director of three initiatives at Wells: Cathedral Commissions, a scheme which commissions new works from pre-eminent British composers; and the cathedral’s innovative festival, new music wells and its counterpart, Early Music Wells.
Matthew studied at Chetham’s School of Music; The Queen’s College, Oxford; the RNCM; and the Sweelinck Conservatorium, Amsterdam. His major organ studies were with Gordon Stewart, Margaret Phillips, and Jacques van Oortmerssen. From 1994-99, he was Tutor in Organ Studies at the RNCM and Chetham’s and worked for BBC Religious Broadcasting, and he was Conductor of The Exon Singers from 1997-2011.
He is Musical Director of the Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society, a chorus of 150 singers with which he has performed Bach’s St John Passion, B minor Mass, and Christmas Oratorio; Britten’s War Requiem and Saint Nicholas; Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, and The Kingdom; Fauré’s Requiem; Handel’s Four Coronation Anthems; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Mozart’s Requiem and C Minor Mass; Orff’s Camina Burana; Verdi’s Requiem; and major works by Finzi, Purcell, Rutter, and Vaughan Williams, with some of the south of England’s leading professional orchestras. Matthew has directed choral workshops and summer schools throughout the UK and abroad – including recent visits to Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and the USA – and has made over thirty CDs as a conductor with major labels including Hyperion and Signum.
As an organist, Matthew has given recitals in Australia, France, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, New Zealand, and throughout the UK, including many festival appearances, and at venues such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, and St John’s Smith Square. He has championed new music, particularly of British composers, premiering many new works by leading composers ranging from Jools Holland to Sir James MacMillan, and John Rutter to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He is active as a composer himself and has works published by Oxford University Press and Novello. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in November 2012.