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Ely Cathedral


Where am I now? That's a very good question. Where have I been is probably an even better one and will lead me to the answer to the first one, I suspect.

After my time in the Cathedral Choir in Ely, I was fortunate to be able to stay at King's Senior School and my music making became a big part of my life. I had an internal debate about whether I wanted to make this great love in my life into my job, but I decided that I should give it a go. I moved from Ely to the Royal College of Music in London (where I met my beautiful wife) to study trombone and singing. Part way through my studies, I needed to focus on one of the other. I am afraid to say that singing was put on the back burner as I concentrated in gaining a BMus in trombone playing. I followed this with a year doing a PGDip in orchestral studies before being unleashed on the music profession.

I spent some time playing trombone on cruise ships, touring with the London Philharmonic Orchestra as well as singing in choirs in London churches. I settled in the Chapel of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea (where the Chelsea Pensioners live) and stayed there fore 10 years as a tenor and even got married there. During this time I also studied Early Performance Techniques at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland which took me in a slightly different direction.

Since then, I have continued my musical development and diversification. I have sung with Stile Antico and I Fagiolini as well as being a regular musician at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Bankside and have toured extensively with them across the US, China, Russia and Taiwan as a musician and Musical Director. I have also performed and recorded with some of the world's top early music orchestras and ensembles. I am now a busy examiner for the ABRSM and enjoy being on the other side of the desk having spent so much time performing to examiners!

As well as my classical singing and trombone/sackbut playing, I have recently begun to forge a side career as a ukulele player. Yes, you read that correctly, ukulele! I am one half of Opera-lele which is the world's only opera / ukulele crossover act! We perform for corporate events and we are even one of the headline acts in this year's Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in Huddersfield! I also have an act called the Renaissance Uke Man which sees me singing cheeky and bawdy English songs ranging from renaissance tavern songs through to early 20th century sailor's songs!

I have a small recording studio at home and I have produced and engineered CDs for friends and colleagues.

I have two wonderful sons with whom I am fortunate to spend a lot of time and we have a lovely home in rural Kent with our yellow Labrador, Grace.

I have been very fortunate throughout my musical career. Ely Cathedral Choir has played a pivotal role in this with the solid musical foundation that it gave me. At such an early age, it was truly a priviledge to have been surrounded by so many inspirational musicians as colleagues, teachers, choirmasters, organists and lay clerks.

George Bartle