Ben England BA (Hons), PGCE, BEM has been performing and teaching music in Bristol since 1995. A graduate of Bristol University, Ben 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. During his undergraduate years, he led countless concerts and services, was Conductor of the University Chamber Choir and Musical Director of the University Opera three times including the critically acclaimed production of Don Giovanni in 1999.
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.
In 2002, Ben was appointed conductor of the Bristol Cabot Choir, and over the eight years he worked with them, transformed the choir into a major musical force in Bristol. The success of his work with the Cabot Choir led to his subsequent appointment as Musical Director of Bristol Opera, where he led the company in successful performances of Handel’s Samson and Lakmé by Delibes. He has led numerous choirs in and around Bristol for the past 20 years, including the New Harmony Ladies Choir (now Sound of Song), a number of afternoon choirs, the Bristol Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society, and has led rehearsals for the City of Bristol Choir, Bristol Chamber Choir and St Paul’s Church choir.
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 specialist for eight years, before taking 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.
Ben has worked extensively with professional composers to champion their music, often commissioning and performing new works. These composers include John Rutter, Patrick Hawes, Richard Barnard, Ian Butcher, Ruth Nunn, John Pitts and Eric Wetherell.
Since 2016, Ben has worked part-time 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 currently working with UWE to develop an exciting new website to showcase the Bristol Music Curriculum. 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 programmes including choir rehearsals, music theory teaching and a Sacred Sing on Sunday mornings.
As a result of this work, Ben has been asked to lead the Self Isolation Choir – an organisation dedicated to singing in lockdown to raise money to fight the virus.
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.