Faculty

Dr Edward Wickham
Artistic Director, and Director of Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge

Dr Edward Wickham was appointed Director of Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 2003 and later became Fellow and Director of Studies in Music. In 2008 he formed the St Catharine’s Girls’ Choir, the first and only college-based choir for girls in the country.   He is also the Director of Gramophone Award-winning vocal group The Clerks.

Dr Wickham has been an Affiliate Lecturer at the Faculty of Music in Cambridge since 2006, where he delivers courses on Late Medieval and Renaissance music and its notation. He is Course Director of the MMus in Choral Studies, and chairs a working party on Choral Outreach.  His current research interest entails the examination of modes of text understanding and intelligibility within a range of choral repertories.

Educated at Oxford and King’s College, London, where he received his PhD for a study in 15th century sacred music, Dr Wickham has throughout his career maintained a busy schedule both as conductor and academic. Soon after leaving Oxford he established the vocal ensemble The Clerks, with which he has made over two dozen recordings, and received many plaudits including the Gramophone Early Music Award. As director of The Clerks, his recordings and performances of Renaissance repertoire have made a significant contribution to the understanding and appreciation of composers such as Ockeghem, Obrecht and Josquin Des Prez; and their innovative performances from manuscript facsimiles (notably a late-night BBC Proms performance) have done much to illuminate issues of period performance in Renaissance polyphony. He is equally engaged with contemporary music, commissioning new work from composers as diverse as Christopher Fox, Joanna Marsh, Robert Saxton and Stevie Wishart.

Dr Wickham is much in demand as a choral coach, and has given workshops and masterclasses throughout the UK, USA and Europe; he was also for several years a guest conductor at the Tokyo Cantat Festival. He is a committed advocate of choral outreach, and is the founder and Artistic Director of The Oxford and Cambridge Singing School, which runs vacation singing courses for children in London, Cambridge and Oxford. With The Clerks he has run many collaborations with schools, most notably with the Tower Hamlets Music Education Service, resulting in performances at the Spitalfields Festival and in Cambridge.

Dr Simon Jackson
Director of Music, Peterhouse

Dr Simon Jackson is Director of Music at Peterhouse and a Bye-Fellow of the College. Alongside his position at Peterhouse, he is also Organist and Director of Music at the neighbouring Church of Little St Mary’s, which served as Peterhouse’s chapel until the current building was consecrated in the 1630s. Simon is a former member of the choirs of York Minster, Peterborough Cathedral and Jesus College, Cambridge, and in addition to his musical activities, he leads an active academic career. He has recently completed a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Warwick, and his research examines the relationship between poetry and music in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His doctoral thesis, exploring the literary and musical activities of the poet-priest George Herbert, won the George Herbert Society Chauncey Wood Prize, and a recent article won the English Literary Renaissance award in 2015.

Sarah MacDonald
Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral

Sarah MacDonald is a Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. A Canadian organist, conductor, pianist, and composer, she has been at Selwyn since 1999, and is the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. She studied piano, organ, and conducting at The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School in Toronto with Leon Fleisher, Marek Jablonski, and John Tuttle. She continued her studies as Organ Scholar of Robinson College, Cambridge, where she read for a degree in Music, and studied the organ with David Sanger.  

 Sarah has played numerous recitals and conducted choirs on tours throughout the UK, North America, the Middle East, New Zealand, and mainland Europe. She has made over 40 recordings, variously in the guises of pianist, organist, conductor, and producer. She works most frequently with Regent Records, with whom she has made 15 single-living-composer recordings with Selwyn Choir and the Ely girls.

Sarah is a winner of the Royal College of Organists’ (RCO) coveted Limpus Prize, and has taught organ and conducting for Eton Choral Courses, Oundle for Organists, the Jennifer Bate Organ Academy, and courses run by the RCO. For its first decade, she was a Director of the annual Girl Chorister Course at St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City, and she is in demand as a guest conductor for international residential courses run by the RSCM and other organisations.

Sarah holds the Fellowship diploma of the RCO, and is an Examiner for the RCO. She teaches conducting, harmony, counterpoint, fugue, and composition for Cambridge University, where she is also an Examiner. She has had over 40 choral compositions published by Encore Publications, the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), August Press, and St James Music Press, and is series editor for the “Sarah MacDonald Choral Series” with Selah Publishing, featuring liturgical choral works by female composers. Sarah also writes a popular monthly column for the American Guild of Organists’ magazine The American Organist, called ‘UK Report’

In 2018 Sarah received the honorary ARSCM in recognition of her contribution to choral music in the UK and Canada, and the citation made particular mention of her support of contemporary British composers. She is an Honorary Patron of the Herbert Howells Society, and a Patron of the Society of Women Organists. In her spare time, she is a keen amateur photographer.

Sarah MacDonald

Christopher Too
Organ Scholar, Jesus College

Chris is in his final year at Cambridge, studying organ with Margaret Phillips alongside his music degree. He began organ lessons as a chorister at Bridlington Priory under the newly founded Dr Martin Clarke Young Organ Scholars Trust. He joined Ampleforth College with a music scholarship between 2013 and 2018, during which time he gained his ARCO. Chris subsequently spent a year as the Organ Scholar at Gloucester Cathedral under Adrian Partington where he regularly accompanied the numerous choirs of the Cathedral, as well as a number of local choral societies, and for part of the famous Three Choirs Festival.

Throughout the national lockdowns, Chris has played an integral part of the regular live streams from Jesus College, conducting and accompanying services, and providing music for the organ meditations and recitals when singing was prohibited. After graduation, Chris is looking forward to joining Salisbury Cathedral as Organ Scholar, playing for their daily services as well as assisting with the training of their choristers.

Christopher Too, Organ Scholar

Helen Groves
Vocal tutor

Helen has enjoyed a varied and high level career as a solo and ensemble singer. Solo highlights include her BBC Proms’ debut in 1996 and recitals at Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room. Her repertoire ranges from Schütz to Szymanowski, appearing with many leading orchestras abroad and in the UK – including English Chamber Orchestra, The English Concert, The Tallis Scholars, Gabrieli Consort and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Helen has lived in Cambridge for twenty years during which time she has built an extensive teaching practice, working at many of the leading University colleges. Her professional performance experience underpins her teaching, providing an invaluable perspective on the joys and frustrations of singing in a team. Helen’s teaching style is light but informative and choral scholars appreciate her uplifting and sympathetic approach.

She lives in central Cambridge with her husband and two girls and, when teaching from home, finds students arriving early for a quiet moment or two with Freddie, her calm and friendly Goldendoodle!

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