Benjamin Nicholas

Music Director

Music Director of the Oxford Bach Choir since 2018, Benjamin Nicholas has conducted the choir in concerts with the CBSO, London Mozart Players and Florilegium. He conducted a performance of Handel’s Athalia with Florilegium to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Sheldonian Theatre. Other recent concerts have included Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, both with the CBSO. With other choruses he has recently given performances of Verdi’s Requiem and Elgar’s The Apostles (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra). At the 2012 Cheltenham Music Festival, he conducted Holst’s Savitri with the Norwegian Wind Soloists, and at the 2019 Three Choirs Festival he conducted Merton College Choir and the Bristol Ensemble in James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words. As a guest conductor, he has worked with the BBC Singers and the Holst Singers.

Benjamin Nicholas won the Choral Award at the 2020 BBC Music Magazine Awards for his recording of Gabriel Jackson’s The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ with the Choir of Merton College, Oxford. His commitment to contemporary music has resulted in the commissioning of choral works from many of the major composers of our time, including Birtwistle, Esenvalds, Dove, Jackson, Kendall, MacMillan, Martin, McDowall, Tabakova, Weir and Wilby. Benjamin Nicholas conducted a Charlotte Bray premiere with the City of London Sinfonia in Southwark Cathedral and the first performance of Howard Goodall’s Veni Sancte Spiritus in Westminster Abbey.

Benjamin became Director of Music of Merton College, Oxford in 2008. During his time at Merton the Dobson organ has been installed, the annual ‘Passiontide at Merton’ festival has been established, and he has introduced Girl Choristers into the Choral Foundation. With Merton College Choir he has toured in France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, Sweden and the USA, and he has regularly conducted them in concerts in London at venues including St John’s Smith Square, The Temple Church and Cadogan Hall. He was elected a Bodley Fellow of Merton in 2018.

Benjamin’s recordings include a highly acclaimed series of discs on the Delphian label, including Mozart’s Coronation Mass & Solemn Vespers with Charivari Agréable, and discs of Allain, Jackson, Weelkes, Rutter and Stanford. Two recent discs were Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice. In 2016 he conducted Merton College Choir in a BBC Radio 3 broadcast of Choral Evensong from St Peter’s Basilica, Rome; it was the first time an Anglican liturgy had taken place in St Peter’s.

As an organist, Benjamin has appeared in concert with The Tallis Scholars, and has most recently given recitals in Gloucester Cathedral, Bath Abbey and Munich Dom. His debut solo disc was awarded five stars in Choir & Organ, and his recording of Elgar’s organ works was ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Organists’ Review.

Benjamin was a chorister at Norwich Cathedral before holding organ scholarships at Chichester Cathedral, Lincoln College, Oxford and St Paul’s Cathedral. After a period as Director of Music of St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, at the age of 23 he moved to Tewkesbury becoming Director of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum and Director of Choral Music at Dean Close School. From 2011-2016 he served the Edington Music Festival, firstly as conductor of the Schola and then as Festival Director.

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