Members of the group
Benjamin Williamson (Alto I) born into a family of counter-tenors, made his musical debut far from the sacred stage, recording backing vocals for a re-issue of The Who’s Greatest Hits. This infectious enthusiasm has spread into his everyday life, and he now, as the earliest riser in the choir, is known frequently to get up before dawn to inspect the haunts of the local owls. Head Chorister of St Margaret’s, Westminster, he was voted on leaving school Most Likely to appear in Who’s Who, but his extra-choral life in Cambridge so far has sagged somewhat: he spends most of his spare time researching the final cadences of Orlando Gibbons and his contemporaries, and when not occupied therein, thrashing out the latest arrangements for the Benjamin Williamson Quintuplet, his own close harmony group.
Simon Ponsford (Alto I) developed a fascination with all things sub-aquatic during his gap year in Malaysia. Since coming to Cambridge, he has risen to the position of Secretary in the University Scuba-Diving Society, the fruits of which labours he reveals (albeit infrequently) to his closest ring of friends: it is rumoured that he is in the process of crafting a pearl necklace for a certain fortunate lady. Above the sea level, he enjoys the superior self-catering facilities provided by King’s, and his experiments in the field of baked goods have rendered some especially delicious results: his cream-filled eclairs were rather good, but the most successful have been his iced buns, which (although a little on the burnt side) were truly beautiful.
Charlie Richardson (Alto II), a rising star in the world of advertising, was recently appointed the Male Face of Wella — having left school two years ago, and searching for opportunities on his GAP year, he grabbed at once at the chance of leaving his part-time job working for the Forestry Commission (although since arriving in Cambridge, he has joined the University Flora and Fauna Society) and moving into more glamorous circles. Having recently become a Squash Blue, he divides his time more or less equally between the Choir, his sporting commitments, and a new-found passion (born of a holiday in Lapland) for Nordic wildlife, especially the larger breeds of reindeer. His decision to become an alto came, as so often happens, after many years of deliberation — he frequently surprises many of his friends with his glorious Wagnerian tenor!
Patrick Stobbs (Alto II) educated at Eton in strict Neo-Protestant Catholicism, he naturally gravitated towards studying Theology at Cambridge. Through his love of religion he brings a much needed peace and tranquility to the frantic and often stressed vestry of King’s Chapel. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the exemplary mental readiness he displays in preparation for each service. Whilst others bustle around him, he can always be found at least half an hour before every service meditating on the music and worship that the choir are about to undertake. Unsurprisingly, Patrick is also an outspoken moralist and prominent member of The Abstinence Alliance, and plans this summer to give a series of lectures to a no doubt packed King’s Chapel, in which he will speak on the importance of pure practice. To add to his many virtues Patrick is also a keen sportsman and is coincidentally a Cambridge blue — with his Hawks membership earned for his two half blues in ball room dancing and croquet. He also plans to marry his long term beau — Miss Mary Forsythe de Clancy, after he has graduated in Summer of 2009.
Jonathan Kanagasooriam (Tenor I) after an early audition for the part of the Southern Hemisphere Milkybar Kid, found fame in other arenas: it has recently emerged that he is twenty-fourth in line to the throne of Sri Lanka, and is therefore entitled to dine at the King’s table four times per year. In his spare time, he continues to maintain a healthy interest in all things chocolate-related — he is rarely seen without a Curly-Wurly in hand. Having spent five happy years at Eton, he is consumed by a passion for the highest possible standards of education, and is frequently spotted on his way to and from Colleges other than his own, where he undertakes invaluable work for EAT (the Educational Advisory Trust of King’s College).
Joel Robinson (Tenor I) prefers the rare Nordic pronunciation of his name “Joël” (as in “Noël”.) He reads Social and Political Sciences, widely regarded as the most academically challenging and intense degree at the University of Cambridge. Despite this, he still somehow finds time to sing with the renowned praise band The Marmite Motorway, and is an active member of the University Buddhist Cookery Club. Joel has an interesting background as a former face model for Braun beard trimmers, having got into acting at an early age in the famous “I’m a big boy now” adverts of Huggies nappies, in which he modelled and sang the slogan. Joel comes from Bromley, which is not really in Kent.
John Robb (Tenor II) is a true Cambridge man and an academic to his soul. Unfortunately this has made him something of a recluse, and he is therefore found working in the library until the small hours, night after night, rarely socialising and making a mere handful of friends during his first term. However, on the few occasions when he is dragged from his books, John’s hedonistic tendencies are revealed, willingly participating in drinking games, even when no one else is actually playing. John has a profound love of classics, yet he has also shown a keen interest in Judaism and Yiddish entertainment. He stresses, however, that this will never bend him from his true calling, being an extremely classical young gentleman.
Edmund Hastings (Tenor II) is one of the finest academics in his year: his work in linguistics, studying the French invasion of Britain and its consequent impact on the language, has already been acclaimed by the Faculty of Modern and Mediaeval Languages as an achievement worthy of the most experienced postgraduate student. When not in the library — and he has been known to remain there until the early hours of the morning — he enjoys listening to the piano music of Eric Satie, shunning the loud rock music favoured by so many of his peers in favour of the reflective sounds that so greatly aid his study.
Rupert Reid (Baritone) as his surname suggests, is the most prolific bibliophile in the group. His reading abilities have frequently caused his friends and colleagues to turn as green as a hundred-dollar note with envy, as he covers a week’s worth of research simply over a long lunch. Other pastimes include his abiding passion for fine art: he has been known to spend hours on end scouring the vast resources of the Internet for high-resolution versions of his favourite masterpieces — and he acknowledges his enormous debt for this hobby to his friend and artistic mentor, the famous Kenyan chief Mr A Irbus. Following in the footsteps of his father, an Athletics Blue, Rupert won gold in the Kent Iron Man competition, the scars of which he bears to this day.
Edward de Minckwitz (Baritone) joins Collegium Regale having sung for two years in the prestigious choir of another Cambridge college (Homerton). He spends most of his time researching the causes and effects of facial illnesses, most recently the virus “Oblicze Poradnik” alleged by some to be developing in his native Poland. Although he speaks only GCSE standard Polish, Edward’s commitment to that country is overwhelming; he even keeps a pet “Bagnella” (a Polish nocturnal hamster) in his rooms, and the need to exercise it every evening, combined with his heavy academic commitment, means that he rarely gets much sleep. When he is not at home in Kdzierzyn Koie Brzeg (Edward will be delighted to help provide pronunciation tips after the concert) he lives in Solihull, which, he informs us, is nowhere near Birmingham.
Peter Lindsay (Bass I) is a man for all seasons: his catholic taste in all things means he finds himself equally at home in the hallowed stalls of King’s Chapel as in the more raucous surroundings of the College’s famous red bar (recently repainted). Like many other members of the group, his passion for modern technology has made him countless numbers of friends, some of whom are still in contact with him, despite his rather unconventional dress-sense — best exemplified by his life-long love of wearing his favourite macintosh on glorious summer days.
Mark Begbie (Bass I) came to King’s after a year spent planting trees in Guatemala. The sudden transition to the formality of the King’s choir stalls was initially a time of trial for him, since his true musical ambition lies far away from cathedral music, in the realms of recording engineering. In this area he has particular expertise, assisting the Spice Girls’ former producer on his latest project, and acting as a microphone consultant for the chart-topping group The Choirboys. Despite his technological bent, his natural charm as a conversationalist comes to the forefront every Sunday evening, when he hosts a chat show live on Cambridge University Radio, covering topics from gay clergy to the latest music being played in the ‘Tanzhaus’es of Berlin.
John Taylor (Bass II) is fascinated with all things antique, hence his decision to study ancient Greek at university. A keen amateur archaeologist, he spends his vacation time digging for treasure in the ruined lands of yore. For this committed scholar a hole in the ground is never merely that, but rather a window onto a distant, buried civilisation which after much painstaking manual labour he may eventually persuade to reveal its secrets. When not on a dig, John devotes his spare time to the RSPB, and has been instrumental in rearing birds for their ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’. Recently, he has become celebrated by the society for his research into crows.
Andrew Tipple (Bass II) maintains, alongside his work in the Choir and with Collegium Regale, a weekly column in one of the University newspapers, in which he grapples with the big issues of our times. His perfect understanding of the zeitgeist also allows him to make frighteningly accurate insights when in Chapel, and both the Dean and Chaplain have been known to refer to his considerable knowledge when preparing their sermons. Never one for excessive indulgence in any field, Andrew maintains a teetotal lifestyle, sipping mineral water as others engage in mindless drinking competitions: the clear-headedness resulting from such abstinence allows him to maintain an impeccable record of accuracy when in the choir stalls.
Oliver Brett (Organ Scholar) first decided to make the organ the biggest part of his life at a very early age indeed. Since then, he has given recitals in more or less every major venue around West Gloucestershire — the critics simply haven’t known which way to turn, as he continues to confound all expectations of a King’s organ scholar. Frankly, though, his true talent lies not in the organ, but in the more subtle arena of the piano world, and, more recently, in his discovery of an astounding baritone voice, worthy in itself of a choral scholarship. He has resigned himself, however, to the life of an organist, doing boys in the morning, men in the evening, and occasionally taking the whole choir — a privilege rarely afforded to a scholar. Should you wish to find out more about his burgeoning career, he is more than happy to discuss any issue, musical or otherwise, with more or less anybody.
Peter Stevens (Organ Scholar) is perhaps not what one would expect from a typical Cambridge organ scholar. Whilst most organists are quiet, reserved and could be perhaps described as socially awkward, Peter is anything but the traditional stereotype. Peter has made quite an impact upon the University socially and is already (even though only in his second term) a bit of an apocryphal figure. Legendary bouts of drinking, and charming yet roguish behaviour have made him a college name, a name synonymous with totally debauched excess. Capitalising upon his notoriety in the first term, Peter became the founding member of the Pope’s Army, a now notorious drinking society. Thankfully, his antics have not (so far) infringed upon his talent in the chapel or in the faculty, and the sight of him daily propping up the College bar drinking his “usual” (a half pint of gin with Midori) is one which many members and fellows of College find both heartening and of great comfort. He plans after his degree to move into the rather volatile world of extreme sports after spending his gap year as a semi-pro BMX racer in Canada. A keen cricketer, Peter currently bats for Oxford.
© Collegium Regale 2007