The Patrons of
the Camden Choir

Richard Blackford was born in 1954 and studied at the Royal College of Music, London, where he was awarded the Tagore Gold Medal, then in Italy with Hans Werner Henze. He was subsequently first Composer-in-Residence at Balliol College Oxford. His music, which includes three operas, two ballets and many works for orchestra, chorus and chamber ensembles, has been performed and broadcast all over the world. Works have been featured in the Adelaide, Cork, Montepulciano, Brighton, Cheltenham, Long Island and Berlin Festivals, and have been recorded on Sony Classical, Warner Classics, Decca, and Nimbus labels.

In 2000, his four-hour choral and orchestral score for CNN/BBC Millennium won an Emmy Award for Best Title Sequence and Richard was nominated for an Outstanding Achievement in Music. His musical King, with lyrics by Maya Angelou, was first performed at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, starring Simion Estes. It was subsequently released on Decca and then chosen to be performed at President Clinton’s Inauguration in 1997. In 2008, Richard was appointed the first ever Composer in Association with the Brno Philharmonic, who gave the world première of his Violin Concerto. His three critically acclaimed choral works – Mirror Of Perfection, Voices of Exile and Not In Our Time – were all subjects of television documentaries and have been frequently broadcast and performed around the world. Over a period of twelve years, he collaborated with Tony Harrison on three Channel 4 film poems, and music for productions at the Delphi Festival and The Royal National Theatre.

Richard has composed extensively for film, having over two hundred credits for the BBC, Channel 4, ZDF, ARD as well as four feature films that include the award winning Song For A Raggy Boy. In 2014, The Great Animal Orchestra was premiered to great acclaim at the Cheltenham Festival and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, before being successfully released on Nimbus Records and performed in the USA and Germany. 2015 saw the première of his BBC Singers commission Within The Seed and the première of his oboe concerto The Better Angels of Our Nature by Emily Pailthorpe and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The latter was successfully released on Champs Hill Records and will be released on Nimbus Records in 2017. In July 2015 Richard was awarded Die Goldene Deutschland for services to music in Germany.

He is a Director of the charity Music For Youth, President of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and a Trustee of the Aberystwyth MusicFest. He is published by Novello and Nimbus Publishing and Nimbus Records have released five CDs of Richard’s music.

Dame Judi Dench CH DBE FRSA has been named Britain’s best actress in several polls, primarily through her work in the theatre but also in film, and television. Her distinctive voice has also been used for characters in radio and animated films. Through her parents she had early contact with the theatre, her father being GP for the York Theatre and her mother wardrobe mistress. She made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company and played in several major Shakespearean roles. She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961 and subsequently spent seasons in repertory around the UK and abroad. Her film debut was in 1964 in the Third Secret. She won the BAFTA Award as Most Promising Newcomer. She is best known internationally today as James Bond’s boss ‘M’.

Dame Judi’s winning roles are too numerous to list, but she has won many awards including six Laurence Olivier Awards, the Tony Award, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love. She was appointed OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1970, advanced to DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1988, and was awarded a CH (Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour) in 2005.

She has also been awarded academic honours including Honorary Fellow of the Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and Honorary Doctorates from Surrey University, Durham University, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, the University of St Andrews and Nottingham Trent University, the Universities of York, Warwick, Birmingham, Lough-borough, the Open University, London University, the Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Surrey University, Oxford University, Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, the University of East Anglia, Wales, Leeds, Hull, St. Andrews and Nottingham Trent. In 2004 she received Honorary Doctorates from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, and from The Juilliard Academy in New York.

Other interests include being a patron of around 250 charities, including the charitable side of Everton FC in Liverpool (Everton in the Community), British Lung Foundation, British Heart Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, to name but a few. She co-owns with her chauffeur a horse which won the Lincoln and the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

Jon Snow studied law at the University of Liverpool but did not complete the degree, being rusticated for his part in an anti-apartheid student protest, which he later described as ‘an absolute watershed in my life’ as it led to an eminent career in journalism. He joined ITN in 1976 and became Washington Correspondent and as diplomatic editor before becoming the main presenter of Channel 4 News in 1989. He has covered major events including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama’s inauguration, the earthquake in Haiti and in 2011 presented an investigative documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, that won multiple awards.

His other many awards include the Richard Dimbleby BAFTA award for Best Factual Contribution to Television (2005), and Royal Television Society awards for Journalist of the Year (2006) and Presenter of the Year (2009). Despite dropping out of University Jon Snow has since been awarded several honorary degrees: from Aberdeen University, Oxford Brookes, and his alma mater, Liverpool University. He declined an OBE because he believes working journalists should not take honours from those that they report on.

His many affiliations past and present include: Trustee of the National Gallery and Tate Gallery, Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust, and Patron of several legal defence charities amongst others. Despite his extensive commitments, Jon Snow is ‘someone to whom music is extremely important’ and his roots are musical – his mother was a pianist and he was a chorister at Winchester Cathedral.

Valerie Lady Solti, under her maiden name of Pitts, was a BBC television presenter during the 1950s. She later worked at Granada Television and met Sir Georg Solti in 1964 when she was sent to interview him. They married in 1967, and had two daughters, Gabrielle and Claudia. Lady Solti was presenter on several children’s television programmes and subsequently appeared occasionally on television such as on the quiz show, Face The Music, and worked with Solti for various charities. After Solti’s death (5 September 1997), Lady Solti, Gabrielle Solti and Claudia Solti began the Solti Foundation to assist young musicians and, in 2002, launched a website dedicated to Georg Solti.

Lady Solti is the patroness of the World Orchestra for Peace, which her husband founded and whose first concert at the United Nations he conducted. She is also involved in other cultural organizations, including the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Trust, the Mariinsky Theatre Trust, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Musica Nel Chiostro, Battignano Italy, the Hungarian Cultural Centre (London), Liszt Academy (Budapest), the W11 Opera children’s opera company in London and the Camden Choir.

The Reverend Lyndon van der Pump is a clergyman with a difference. Born in Swansea in 1925, he had a distinguished career as a Lieder recitalist before discovering a talent for teaching. After teaching singing to actors at RADA and choral scholars at Cambridge, he was invited to become Singing Professor at the Royal College of Music, where he worked from 1971 to 1994. But rather than simply resting on his musical laurels, he decided to follow a long-time religious commitment by becoming an Anglican priest in 1988. His career as a clergyman was spent at St Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill, from where he retired in 2004 but still lives near St Mary’s.

His passion, as a singer and teacher, has always been to make the words tell in the way the composers intended: as inseparable partners of the music. Works sung in translation, however, have often had their words forced into unnatural patterns. Van der Pump recently turned his attention to J. S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion which is very often sung in English outside Germany. Standard English translations are either stilted or married inelegantly with the music. Van der Pump’s new translation, issued by the leading music publishers Peters, is flowing, idiomatic and singable. His aim was to produce a translation that is literally accurate in translating the original German while fitting the English words to the notes. The world premiere of this new translation was given by the Camden Choir on 12 March 2008, in St John’s, Smith Square, conducted by Julian Williamson, with a number of distinguished soloists who were van der Pump’s ex-pupils.