Birmingham Bach Choir  Inspiring performances, inspiring music, inspiring audiences
Home About us Concerts CDs Join the Choir Support us Contact us Links Members’ area

Paul Spicer

Paul Spicer began his musical training as a chorister at New College, Oxford. He studied with Herbert Howells and Richard Popplewell (organ) at the Royal College of Music in London, winning the top organ award (the Walford Davies Prize) in his final year.

Paul is best known as a choral conductor, partly through the fifteen CDs he made with the Finzi Singers for Chandos records. He conducted Bach Choirs in Chester and Leicester before moving to conduct the Bach Choir in Birmingham in 1992. He also conducts the Whitehall Choir in London. He has set up ground-breaking M.Mus courses for choral conductors at both the Royal College of Music and the Birmingham Conservatoire where he also directs both chamber choirs, and he also directs a chamber choir at Oxford University.

Until July 2001 Paul Spicer was Artistic Director of the Lichfield International Arts Festival and the Abbotsholme Arts Society, posts he relinquished in order to pursue a freelance musical career. He was Senior Producer for BBC Radio 3 in the Midlands until 1990 and today is in great demand as a recording producer and as a composer. The first complete recording of his large-scale Easter Oratorio, originally commissioned as part of the Lichfield Festival Millennium celebrations, was released in 2005 and has received critical acclaim, the work being recognised by Gramophone Magazine as 'the best of its kind to have appeared... since Howells's Hymnus Paradisi.' Follow this link to read all reviews

The Deciduous Cross, a work for choir and winds based on five poems by RS Thomas and premiered in 2003, was commissioned for Paul's tenth anniversary as conductor of the Birmingham Bach Choir and was recently recorded by the Whitehall Choir. It was premiered in June 2003 and described as:
‘a deeply-felt composition, almost intoxicatingly melodic throughout to create a chaste kind of spiritual ecstasy in which elements of reviving nature figure strongly’.

A recording of his complete works for organ, played by Robert Sharpe, was recently released from Truro Cathedral. A recording of his shorter choral works performed by the choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, was released in 2008.

Paul Spicer's highly acclaimed biography of his composition teacher, Herbert Howells, was published in August 1998 and has been reprinted twice. He is presently working on a full-scale biography and study of works of Sir George Dyson. He was awarded a major grant by the British Academy to take a sabbatical period to further the research for this work. As a writer he has written countless articles for many periodicals and is a contributor of the 'Dictionary of National Biography'. At the same time he is been working on a choral and orchestral work to a new libretto by Dr Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, who wrote the text for the Easter Oratorio. The premiere of this work, an Advent Oratorio, took place in Lichfield Cathedral in December 2009. 

Besides these major projects Paul Spicer is in great demand for his choral workshops which take him all over the world.

He runs an annual choral course/Arts Festival called The English Choral Experience at Abbey Dore in the Golden Valley of Herefordshire each July. He is a broadcaster, recording producer, lecturer and popular speaker.

Paul Spicer is a member of the Council of Lichfield Cathedral, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Honorary Research Fellow of Birmingham University and an Honorary Fellow of Birmingham Conservatoire.

Find out more at Paul Spicer's website.

Paul Spicer
Photo © Emotion Studios

Photo © Merryn Lloyd

Past Conductors:

Bernard Jackson
1919 - 1927

Dr Allen Blackhall
1929 - 1943

Dr Willis Grant
1947 - 1958

Thomas Tunnard
1958 - 1959

Hamish Preston
1959 - 1964

Dr Roy Massey
1964 - 1966

Richard Butt
1966 - 1992

Andrew Millington
1980 - 1982
(during Richard Butt's sabbatical)

Neil Ferris
Principal Guest Conductor