Future Leaders

Meet our next generation volunteers, leading the way on engaging a new audience for cathedral music.

Elizabeth Leather

Co-chair

Lizzie is a Choral Director, based at Leeds Cathedral and working in schools across Yorkshire as part of the Schools Singing Programme. She believes in the power of singing, and choral music in particular, to engage and inspire young people. Through the Future Leaders group, she hopes to team up with like-minded people across the UK and work together to strengthen the future of cathedral music, ensuring it is as relevant, diverse and accessible as it can be.

David Whitworth

Co-Chair

David’s musical career began as a chorister at Grimsby Minster, and a pupil at the previously adjoining choir school. He benefited from the generosity of various educational trusts throughout his schooling which enabled him to continue pursuing high-quality choral music, and inspired him to give back to the choral tradition via the Future Leaders. David has sung in and alongside various cathedral choirs and professional ensembles, including Genesis Sixteen, Voces8 and The King’s Singers to name a few.

Alongside a career in geoscience and net-zero research, David sings regularly as a Countertenor Lay Clerk at Tewkesbury Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral, having recently departed a similar role at Derby Cathedral.

Ophelia Appleby

Ophelia is a Cumbrian-born singer, composer and painter. She took up choral singing in her final years of secondary school, joining Carlisle Cathedral youth choir and was immediately hooked, attending various courses including the Rodolfus Foundation Choral Courses and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Summer Composition Course. From there she went on to get her degree in Music (Classical) from the Royal Northern College of Music. Since graduating she has focused on pursuing her artistic ambitions, exhibiting work as well as performing at the Grange Gallery in Rottingdean, and will combine her art and music further at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for her Master’s degree in Composition.

James Bartlett

James is Director of Music at Christ’s Hospital School. Originally from Pembrokeshire, James sang in the choir of St Davids Cathedral whilst at school, before reading Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he held a choral scholarship and sang with Sidney Sussex College Choir and King’s College Choir. James maintains a busy portfolio of professional singing work with a variety of choirs in London and as a soloist all over the country. James directs Junior Choral Courses for the Rodolfus Foundation, and works as a Musical Director for the National Youth Music Theatre. He previously taught at Ibstock Place School and Marlborough College.

Nicholas Bown

Nicholas grew up in London and studied Music at Cambridge University where he was a choral scholar at King’s College. He works in digital strategy for a consumer goods company, and got involved in the Cathedral Music Trust to further the Trust’s objectives of growing excellence and diversity in the cathedral music sector. Nicholas is passionate about broadening access to life-changing musical education while ensuring the sustainability and precious heritage of cathedral music.

Isobel Chesman

Isobel began her singing career as a chorister; an opportunity to which she credits a blossoming career in education, vocal health, and performance. She studied at Newcastle University, followed by UCL Institute of Education for a PGCE in Secondary Music, and now works for music education hubs as a choral animateur, vocal coach, and curriculum music provider. She recently completed her MSc in Performance Science at the Royal College of Music in London, with a thesis addressing the vocal health of cathedral lay clerks, and has recently departed her lay clerk position at Derby Cathedral to pursue new work in Gloucestershire.

Alistair Donahue

Originally from Northampton, Alistair started his singing career as a chorister at All Saints’ Church, before moving to Birmingham to study Vocal and Operatic performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He was a choral scholar and lay clerk in Birmingham Cathedral Choir, and also worked as Liturgy and Music Administrator after graduating.

Alistair is now a tenor Vicar Choral in the choir of York Minster, and is a singing teacher at Bradford Cathedral. He also organises singers for events with his group, the Donaghue Quartet, performing at weddings and corporate events. In his spare time, he likes to play the piano, and is a keen follower of Liverpool Football Club.

Victoria Eyre

Victoria began singing in her local church choir aged seven and then became a choral scholar at Jesus College Cambridge, where she studied Modern and Medieval Languages. After working in Germany and Switzerland, she is now back in her hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne, where she works at The Glasshouse (formerly Sage Gateshead) as Concerts & Projects Manager for Royal Northern Sinfonia. Other interests involve walking, skiing, learning BSL, and playing violin. She is passionate about sacred choral music and hopes that with the Future Leaders group she can work towards enabling more people to access and engage with this incredible musical heritage.

Charlotte Gauthier

Charlotte obtained her PhD in church history from Royal Holloway, University of London, and is now Assistant Director of Discipleship for the Diocese of Southwark. She has consulted with major churches and cathedrals on community engagement programmes and conducted research on the effectiveness of their music outreach programmes amongst children and young people in lower-income communities. She is a keen amateur musician – playing the lute, clavichord, and recorder – and is especially passionate about expanding access to high-quality education in sacred music to those who have not been able to access it as children. She hopes that her work with Cathedral Music Trust will help enable people of all ages and from under-served communities engage with this important part of our shared heritage.

Alexander Hamilton

Alex is Acting Director of Music at Wells Cathedral in Somerset. In his role, he oversees all of the musical activity at the cathedral, including the training and direction of the Cathedral Choir, and the general management of the department. As a member of the Future Leaders group, he is enjoying collaborating with a group of like-minded and passionate people, working together to create a more joined-up cathedral music scene across the UK. Alex also sits on the Grants Panel, which reviews applications to the Trust’s Cathedral Music Support Programme. Outside of his work, Alex is a keen cook and enjoys walking and training his enthusiastic spaniel.

Guy James

Guy is a freelance countertenor and founding member of The Gesualdo Six. He grew up in Gloucestershire and was a chorister of St James The Great, Dursley and then at Cheltenham College. Guy read Natural Sciences at St John’s College Cambridge, and was a choral scholar at Trinity College. In his spare time Guy loves to play and watch cricket and to explore Italian libraries for lost musical treasures. He hopes that his work with Cathedral Music Trust will help to extend the choral opportunities that he so greatly benefited from in a parish church context to many more young musicians.

Iris Lam

Iris is a First Year Architecture student at the Glasgow School of Art. When she’s not busy drawing floor plans, she spends her time as a chorister at Glasgow Cathedral and St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow. Previously, she was a choral scholar at Wilton Parish Church during her time studying in Salisbury. Iris is passionate about architectural and cultural conservation and believes that preserving historically significant traditions within cathedrals is just as important as protecting the monument itself. She is excited to collaborate with like-minded individuals to create a worldwide sustainable future for choral music and ecclesiastical buildings.

Libby Marsland

Libby first became interested in cathedral music after joining the Girls’ Choir at All Saints’ Church, Northampton at the age of 11. It was here that she was a chorister and, later, Head Girl Chorister. This ignited a passion and Libby attended two summer courses with the Rodolfus Foundation, sharing her love of choral singing with many other young singers from across the country. She also undertook a soprano choral scholarship at Arundel Cathedral. With a particular interest in inspiring young minds, Libby has an undergraduate degree in Music Education and is now studying for her Primary Education PGCE.

Imogen Morgan

Imogen is the Assistant Master of Music at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, where she accompanies the daily services and helps train the choristers. She has previously worked at Durham and Peterborough Cathedrals and is a prize-winning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. Imogen is passionate about encouraging young women into organ-playing and conducting, and hopes to increase the visibility of women in cathedral music through her role within Cathedral Music Trust. As a former chorister herself, she is also committed to developing a sustainable future for choristerships to ensure the longevity of this unique tradition.

Benjamin Phillips

Ben is a researcher in music, religion, and culture. Ben began his chorister career at St Davids Cathedral, before proceeding to read Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, holding a choral scholarship. From there, he spent a year at King’s College, London, before working in Arts Management positions. He undertook an MA in Church Music at the University of York, combining further study with four years as a Liturgist at Durham Cathedral, working both at a regional and national level. Having recently completed post-graduate work at the University of York, Ben is presently preparing further research into Welsh Anglican choral foundations.

Dr Elizabeth Preece

Elizabeth found her love of cathedral music while studying choral conducting and musicology at the University of Cambridge, leading her to a three-year PhD programme in this area. Her research draws on the sociology of music, religion and education, and explores the impact of chorister education on the lives of choristers. She saw an opportunity in the Future Leaders committee for her research in this area to impact the practical world of cathedral music and by being a member of the committee she hopes to bridge this gap between research and practice.

Meg Rees

Meg fell in love with choral music when she began singing as a chorister at St Davids Cathedral. This led her to pursue an undergraduate and masters degree in musicology, and is now completing a PhD specialising in diversity within the Anglican choral tradition. Her research draws on theories from ethnomusicology, anthropology, and theology to examine the Anglican choral tradition and suggest ways in which institutions can diversify recruitment and experience. Meg is really looking forward to working with the Future Leaders, to learn more about the practicalities of sustaining Anglican choral music and contribute to the longevity of the Anglican choral tradition.

Jordan Theis

Jordan is a conductor and pianist based in the South East and London. He is Musical Director of St Thomas-on-The Bourne Farnham, Assistant Conductor of Barts Choir, and leads the Community Choirs at St Botolph-without-Aldgate. He is an experienced accompanist and as an educator is passionate about widening access to music. Through the Future Leaders group, he will pursue collaborations with other musicians: sharing information and resources to open up more opportunities for engagement with church music across the UK.

Ben Thompson

Ben began his singing career as a chorister at Birmingham Cathedral, before leaving for Durham University where he read music. Whilst at university, he sang as a choral scholar with the St John’s and University Chapel Choirs for a year, before joining Newcastle Cathedral Choir for the remainder of his studies. Ben returned to Birmingham Cathedral in 2021 before moving to Canterbury Cathedral in September 2023, where he now sings as a tenor lay clerk. Through the Future Leaders, he hopes to bring his passion for choral music to the younger generation by utilising social media.

Graham Thorpe

Graham is Assistant Director of Music at Bradford Cathedral, a post he’s held since 2019. He trained in London at the RAM and RCM. Graham is the Trust’s Leeds Area Representative, and is delighted to have joined the Future Leaders. He is passionate about enabling children from all backgrounds to access choral church music, and is looking forward to sharing experience and ideas with like-minded colleagues from across the country. Graham is in demand as a recitalist and accompanist, and has a particular interest in English Romantic repertoire.

Daisy Widdicombe

Daisy is the Music Education Officer and Music Administrator at Bradford Cathedral, and is studying part time for her MA in Community Music at the University of York. Alongside this, she sings regularly as an alto lay clerk and freelance soprano. As well as directing the cathedral’s community children’s choir and tutoring the junior choral scholars at Bradford, Daisy is excited to begin working with Cathedral Music Trust to explore how musical education can continue beyond childhood into adulthood, and how new singers in later stages of their lives – or those with no exposure to cathedral music – can be equally involved in these settings.