About Ben

Ben England BA (Hons), PGCE, BEM is a music graduate of Bristol University, where he specialised in musical analysis, composing and musical direction. He trained as a conductor with Dr Alan Rump and Dr Adrian Beaumont, before going on to study conducting with Denise Ham of the London Conducting Academy.

After graduation, Ben sang with groups as diverse as the New English Orchestra, the Bristol Chamber Choir, Bristol Opera, the Exultate Singers and the Choir of Clifton Cathedral. A bass baritone, he has performed widely as an oratorio and operatic singer, including lead roles in The Cunning Little Vixen and Der Mond (for Bristol Opera), The Magic Flute and the Pirates of Penzance. Ben currently teaches singing to adults and young people across the Bristol area.

Ben is a former Musical Director of Bristol Opera, where he led the company in successful performances of Handel’s Samson and Lakmé by Delibes and he has led numerous choirs in and around Bristol for the past 20 years, including the large Bristol Cabot Choir and the Bristol Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society and a number of smaller choirs.

Having qualified as an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) of Music through the DfE Fast-Track Teaching programme, Ben worked for South Gloucestershire as a Head of Music and county Music and Music Technology specialist for eight years. In 2011 Ben took up the role of Director of Music at Colston’s Girls’ School, where he ran music across five schools (including four primary schools) from 2011-2016. His work as an educator brought him to the national stage on numerous occasions, as he lectured on music and leadership at conferences for the DfES and the National Association of Head Teachers.

Ben has worked extensively with professional composers to champion their music, often commissioning and performing new works. These composers include local musicians Richard Barnard and Eric Wetherell, as well as more recently the eminent John Rutter and conducting a premiere by the renowned composer Patrick Hawes.

Since leaving teaching, Ben has worked on a freelance basis for Bristol Plays Music, the music education hub for the City of Bristol, based at the Bristol Beacon (formerly Colston Hall). In this role he has organised and coordinated major performances at the Colston Hall, Bristol Cathedral and further afield. He managed the Bristol Youth Choir from 2016-2017 and coordinated the live BBC Radio/TV music broadcast from Southmead Hospital on BBC Music Day 2017. He has written award-winning education materials and been nominated for three national Music Teacher awards for his work on projects such as the Bristol/Monteverdi 450 choral workshops and university seminar and the Bristol Minute of Listening. He is the author of the curriculum materials for the planned international 2021 Berlioz celebrations.

During the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020, Ben established HOMECHOIR, a free YouTube channel on which he broadcasts a range of free musical and educational programmes including choir rehearsals, music theory teaching and a Sacred Sing on Sunday mornings. In October of 2020, Ben (as founder of homechoir) was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) by Her Majesty the Queen for services to the community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the success of the Quarantine Choir, Ben was appointed Musical Director of the Self-Isolation Choir (founded by inspirational business leader Mark Strachan) which in 2020 has grown to one of the largest choirs in the world. Their inaugural project Messiah at Home was produced with some of the world’s greatest musicians including Laurence Cummings, Carolyn Sampson and Jennifer Johnstone and gained international attention. Messiah at Home was featured on the national BBC Evening News, all the BBC radio stations, NHK (Japan) CBS (USA) and many more – and has become part of the official Wikipedia entry for Messiah. The choir has grown to 12,000 strong and has recorded such amazing works as Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem and Allegri’s Miserere – working with the world-famous choir Tenebrae and their conductor, Nigel Short. Ben conducted the Self-Isolation Choir in the World Premiere of Still, Still the Night by Patrick Hawes in December 2020, and their version of Hawes’ Quanta Qualia was played on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in March 2021.

Ben is much in demand as a choral leader and has taken on the Musical Directorship of the UWE Singers, a large SATB choir based at the University of the West of England.

Ben lives in the South-West of the UK with his wife Ana and their children Katie and Bobby.