Started in 2021, our scheme of Associate Musicians at St Stephen's, Rochester Row offers a friendly and supportive home base and community for musical soloists, collaborators, and ensembles, in exchange for contribution to our musical culture according with Associates' skills and interests. Exact arrangements and activities are flexible and agreed on an individual basis. But Associate Musicians may use St Stephen's facilities for rehearsal at times when the church is available, for example, or as a base for developing programmes and projects, or as an initial performance venue; and we seek to support and spread the word about Associates' activities both at St Stephen's and beyond. And in return, Associates may contribute to our recitals and concerts, sing with our Choir, contribute to our liturgical music in some other way, or teach music in the community.
Below there is information about current Associate Musicians at St Stephen's. If you would be interested in exploring the possibility of becoming an Associate Musician, we are open to proposals, either along the lines of the above examples or with new ideas; please e-mail our Director of Music, Matthew Blaiden, on firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no formal recruitment process or limit on numbers of Associates - proposals will be considered on a rolling basis, and possibilities for arrangements will fluctuate according to what prospective Associates and the church ask of and can offer each other mutually conveniently.
Current Associate Musicians
Cecily Beer leads a varied musical career in the South East as both a concert harpist and choral singer. Primarily a harpist, she has held the position of Resident Harpist at The Waldorf Hotel in Covent Garden since 2014 and is in huge demand for providing background music for private engagements. Past occasions and clients have included Time Out Magazine, Ronnie Wood, Rowan Williams, and Her Majesty, The Queen. Cecily has performed as concerto and recital soloist both home and abroad taking her as far as the Middle East and the South Pacific, and collaborates regularly with other musicians. Due to her huge passion for choral music, she has a special interest in accompanying choirs and works regularly with her church choir at St Bartholomew The Great, Smithfield, and also with her old university, The Choir of Royal Holloway. Currently, Cecily is working towards a new venture called Organics with her fiancé, Rupert Gough, incorporating an unusual combination of organ and harp. She is delighted to be one of the new Associate Musicians of St Stephen’s Rochester Row, and is excited to become involved in the musical life of the church.
Hugh Benson graduated as a tenor with a Masters in Voice from the Royal Academy of Music and a Bachelors in Music from King’s College, London. Operatic experience includes Albert in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (Clyde Opera), Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Rogue Opera), Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte (St. Paul’s Opera, Clyde Opera), Hyppolite in Rameau’s Hyppolite et Acrie (Woodhouse Opera), Valere in Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes (Benslow Music), Don Basilio in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Hampstead Garden Opera), Male Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia (Royal Academy of Music), Lysander in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Southgate Opera), Tamino in Mozart's The Magic Flute (Southgate Opera), and Pastore I in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (Teatron Oneiron). In concert, Hugh has worked with Dartington International Festival, Highbury Chamber Choir, St. Neott’s Choral Society, Waverley Singers, Penzance Choral Society, St. John’s, Wimbledon Choir and Scherzo Ensemble.
The Civil Service Choir
directed by Stephen Hall OBE
The Civil Service Choir was established in 2009 and gave its inaugural concert at St Stephen’s. A strong relationship with the church has been in place ever since, through regular concerts and services, but connections with the church through earlier civil service based choirs go back to at least the early 1970s. Other recent performance venues have included Westminster Abbey, Central Hall Westminster, the Guards’ Chapel, Lancaster House, and St Martin-in-the-Fields. It has regularly given concerts with its own orchestra at St John’s Smith Square. Prior to Covid-19 the choir boasted over 150 members drawn from government departments and agencies. The Civil Service Choir is directed by founder music director Stephen Hall OBE. Visit www.civilservicechoir.org.uk for more details.
directed by Gilly French
Floreat is a Westminster-based vocal consort, established in 2008 to sing the termly Choral Eucharist services at St John’s Smith Square. Following their inaugural concert in October 2016 at Westminster Abbey Chapter House, the group has given regular concerts in the Westminster area and beyond. They specialise in Renaissance polyphony, but have been known to stray at times into later repertory! Floreat is more than grateful to the Vicar of St Stephen’s for making us so welcome in the use of the church as our new home, and is thrilled to have the relationship formalised through appointment as Associate Musicians.
Richard Hammond-Hall is a sought-after accompanist and a dedicated and experienced educator. Richard holds a first-class degree in music from King’s College London, where he was organ scholar to the internationally acclaimed Chapel Choir. He went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, gaining an MMus in piano accompaniment and continued his studies as an Artist Fellow. Richard’s teaching career has included working at the Merton Music Foundation, the Fulham Children’s Choir, the GSMD and some of London’s leading independent schools. Richard is the Director of Music at St Mary's, West Malling.
Soprano Shafali Jalota has been praised for her "stunning vocal technique and poised stage presence" (Opera Today). She has won prizes in a number of competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Camille Coloratura Awards, the Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Foundation, and the Flatpack Opera Competition. Shafali has sung internationally with companies such as Chautauqua Opera, Opera NEO, Dartington International Summer Festival and the Maryland Opera Studio. This summer, she will make her debut with Hampstead Garden Opera as Clori in Cavalli's L'Egisto and will return to Opera NEO to sing Romilda in Handel's Serse. Please visit her website for more information: www.shafalijalota.com.