Profile

Will Dawes is Director of Chapel Music of Somerville College, Oxford, Director of Music at the church of St Mary Magdalen, Oxford, Conductor of Ensemble 45, and Director of Frideswide Voices (Oxford’s first liturgical choir for 7-14 year-old girls).

Will’s musical career started as a chorister at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and as a member of the Berkshire Young Musicians Trust. He studied music at the University of Edinburgh and then Choral Conducting and Voice at the Royal Academy of Music under the direction of Patrick Russill, Paul Brough and David Lowe. There, he frequently conducted in the opera department and took part in masterclasses with conductors such as David Hill, Timo Nuorane and Stephen Layton. On graduating, he was awarded the Thomas Armstrong Prize for Choral Direction.

Will’s work with his various choirs has seen performances of works ranging from the St John Passion (Bach), Stabat Mater (Scarlatti) and The Seasons (Haydn) to The Company of Heaven (Britten), A Child of our Time (Tippett), and Seven last words from the Cross (MacMillan), the latter being hailed as “A quite remarkable musical experience which had emotional intensity and depth of feeling”.  As Chorusmaster to Ludus Baroque, he prepared the choir for their biannual performances of the great works by Handel and Bach, as well as for their recordings on the Delphian label.  His work with Ensemble 45 has included national premieres of works by Pärt, Penderecki, Rautavaara and Whitacre alongside music by Brahms, Carver, Britten and Gabriel Jackson. A recent highlight was directing the Eric Whitacre Singers in a recording of Fly to Paradise – the track for Virtual Choir 4, which reached no.1 in the iTunes classical chart in the UK, US, and Canada.

Aside from his career as a conductor, Will is active as a consort singer and is a member of the internationally acclaimed and multiple-Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Stile Antico.  The group performs all over the globe, so far including concerts at the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall (BBC Proms), 30 different venues in the USA, as well as Mexico, Portugal, Estonia and Canada. He is a former Lay Clerk of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and has also appeared as part of the BBC Singers, Collegium Vocale Gent and Polyphony.

As a soloist, Will has sung works such as Carmina Burana (Orff), Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Mahler), and The Wound Dresser (Adams) as well as more canonic works by JS Bach and GF Handel. His one and only operatic role to date is that of Mr Gedge in Albert Herring.