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Nigel Perrin

About Nigel

Musical director 

Nigel directs the Bath Bach Choir (since 1990) and Exeter Festival Chorus (since 1999). He has recently passed on the batons of Bath Camerata, the award-winning chamber choir he founded in 1986, and of the Wells Cathedral School Chamber Choir, which he started conducting in 1999. Details of all these can be found on the ‘choirs’ page.

Teacher at Wells Cathedral Specialist Music School

Nigel was a voice tutor at Wells Cathedral School for 24 years, teaching boys and girls aged from 11 to 18. Many of his pupils have gone on to have careers as professional singers, and he takes great pleasure in engaging them to sing as soloists in his various musical projects.

Inspirational director of workshops, masterclasses and special projects

Choirs of all sorts regularly come to Nigel for inspiration and training. Aims of masterclasses vary:
- to improve knowledge of a choral work
- to raise choir funds
- to broaden schoolchildren’s experience
- to train groups of rural choirs in preparation for a specific performance
- to work on vocal technique

Summer school maestro

Nigel directs summer school choirs of all sizes for various musical organisations, including Dartington International Summer School, Encore International Music Projects in Wells and RunbySingers, for whom he has been directing courses for 16 years.  He will be conducting the Run-by-Singers' 100th event in Odessa in June 2020.

By invitation

Nigel directs an annual 'lighter side' weekend and organises other special projects for invited singers. In 2015 a group he named Voces del Camino travelled the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrims' way to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, culminating in concerts in Lugo and Santiago Cathedrals and singing at the weekly Pilgrims' Mass in Santiago. Voces del Camino subsequently gave a well-received concert of renaissance Spanish and English music in Bath Abbey in February 2016, in aid of the abbey's Footprint Appeal. This enterprise was so successful that the 'Pilgrimage' formula (singing, walking & dining) was repeated in May 2017 and again in May 2019 in the Catalonia and Rioja regions of northern Spain with concerts in the Cathedrals of Barcelona, Girona, Montserrat (audience of 2000), Logroño and Burgos.

Earlier on…

The son of forces parents, Nigel went to King’s School Ely at the age of eight, where he was a chorister in Ely Cathedral and spent the rest of his time playing rugby, cricket and the trumpet and trombone (a bit). From school he won a choral scholarship to King's College Cambridge, where he was a protégé of Sir David Willcocks. He sang alto in the King's College Choir, performing in three Christmas Eve Services of Nine Lessons & Carols and taking the alto solos in the choir’s recording of Vaughan Williams’s Mass in G minor, a disc that is still selling well some 50 years after it was recorded!

With perfect timing, he left Cambridge at the point where the newly-formed King's Singers were in search of a top line. He became the high voice of the King's Singers for the next 11 years, lending brightness and clarity to the overall sound, recording 25 albums, making regular TV appearances, earning a gold disc and generally travelling the world as part of the prototype ‘boy band’. The group worked with Dudley Moore, Nana Mouskouri, James Galway, Olivia Newton John, Harry Secombe, Lulu, Cilla Black, Val Doonican, Roger Whittaker and Vera Lynn amongst many others, and Nigel was picked out by Cliff Richard to feature on his ‘Little Town’ single. Click here to hear the King's Singers’ original and now much downloaded recording of New Day, with Nigel on the top line.

Moving in new directions...

Nigel founded his own chamber choir, Bath Camerata, in 1986 (see 'choirs') and joined Marlborough College as a singing teacher for 10 years before moving to Wells Cathedral School in 1995. He took over the musical directorship of the Bath Bach Choir in 1990 and, at the instigation of Sir David Willcocks, of Exeter Festival Chorus in 1999. He has raised the standard of both choirs, and enabled them to give hugely successful performances of a wide variety of work, from the major, well-known choral pieces, to jazz, to light songs. His portfolio of masterclass days given to choral societies of all shapes and sizes around the country has continued to grow, and these are immensely popular. Nigel's attention to detail, musical sensitivity and uncompromising perfectionism are legendary. He is also great fun, except when he has a sense of humour failure due to singers not practising or not watching.

Highlights of the past 20 years include:

  • Conducting Britten’s War Requiem in Exeter, Germany and Russia
  • Forming and rehearsing the choir for the Three Tenors concert in Royal Crescent, Bath
  • Performing with Joanna McGregor in numerous projects for the Bath International Music Festival
  • Conducting Wells Cathedral School Chamber Choir in a live Radio 3 broadcast at the Bath International Music Festival
  • Reaching 25 years with Bach Bach Choir with a thrilling performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion given to a full house at Bath Abbey - this milestone earned him a Bath Life Special Achievement Award in 2015
  • Conducting Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and EFC in their annual performance of Messiah
  • Collaborating with Tallis Scholars and I Fagiolini (Bath Camerata) – the latter in a live broadcast from Bath Abbey on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee evening
  • Conducting the south-west premiere of James MacMillan's St John Passion in Wells Cathedral, in the presence of the composer
  • Forming and directing a choir of 15 singers to record the National Anthem for Her Majesty The Queen's Christmas broadcast 2015
  • Singing with the new generation of King's Singers in Salle Gaveau in Paris as part of the group's 50th Anniversary celebrations - February 2018
  • Conducting the Band of the Royal Marines in Exeter Cathedral with Roderick Williams and Exeter Festival Chorus - December 2018
  • Conducting Mozart's Requiem and Exsultate Jubilate in Wells Cathedral with guest soprano Carolyn Sampson and Bath Bach Choir - June 2019

In between ...

... conducting choirs and directing workshops and masterclasses, Nigel is often to be found on his narrowboat Tulip, plying the Kennet & Avon canal, sometimes with the help of his ten beloved grandchildren, or tending to the needs of his precious bees, which provide him annually with some 20 kilos of sensational golden honey.