The music department comprises seven full time and seven part time members of staff.
There are 30 parental volunteer chaperones and a Management Board comprising 12 members.
Administrator and Fundraiser
Jessica Shears graduated in 2016 from Leeds College of Music with a First-Class Degree in Classical Music. During her studies, becoming passionate about the benefits of the arts within education, she specialised in Community Music. Jessica has worked as a full time Music and Arts Practitioner; working as a woodwind tutor for Bradford Music and Arts Service, as a Performing Arts Specialist for Artis Education, and as the Classical Tutor for Leeds College of Music’s Saturday Music School. Jessica is now thrilled to work for The Diocese of Leeds Music Department and looks forward to bringing her experience as an arts educator into the role.
Diocesan Director of Music
Benjamin Saunders was organ scholar of Downing College, Cambridge University and Assistant Director of Music at the cathedrals of St Giles’ Edinburgh, Blackburn and Chester. Since 2002 he has been Director of Music for the Diocese of Leeds, carrying overall responsibility for the music programme. Benjamin has been engaged by many external organisations as a consultant in the management and development of music departments. He was appointed a Director of Leeds College of Music in 2013 and Visiting Professor of Music at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana in 2015. As an organist, he has performed to HM the Queen, Princess Anne and US President Carter and worked with conductor Carl Davis and jazz virtuoso Dick Hyman. He has given solo organ concerts in France, Italy, Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Russia and the United States and records as a soloist for Brilliant Classics and Herald AV. Further details can be found on his website.
Director of the Schools Singing Programme
Thomas Leech enjoys a reputation as an outstanding and inspirational choral director and organist. As the Director of our internationally acclaimed Schools Singing Programme he manages one of the most innovative and successful choral programmes in the country, involving some 50 schools and over 2500 children weekly, with its choirs broadcasting regularly on BBC radio and enjoying international competition and concert success. Tom combines this with his role as Musical Director of Bradford Festival Choral Society and frequent appearances as a guest conductor and workshop leader, with recent projects as diverse as Paco Peña’s flamenco Requiem por la Tierra, Britten War Requiem and the choral soundtrack for the film London Fields. Recording credits include the complete choral works of Duruflé and complete organ works of Arvo Pärt for Brilliant Classics and he has broadcast on BBC1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, Classic FM and Radio France. His educational work has most recently been recognised by the Worshipful Company of Educators’ Masters’ Award. For more information follow him on twitter @thomas_leech
Director of the Organists Training Programme and Cathedral Organist
David Pipe heads the new Organ School, a partnership between the Diocese of Leeds Music Department and The Royal College of Organists from May 2016. David was Assistant Director of Music at York Minster since 2008 and prior to this held posts at Guildford and Southwark Cathedrals. He became Principal Conductor of York Musical Society in March 2012. Born in London in 1983, David read Music at Cambridge University, later studying organ at the Royal Academy of Music, having gained a postgraduate entrance scholarship. Under his leadership it is hoped that the new organ school can mirror the success of the Singing Programme by creating the largest and highest quality schools organ teaching programme in the country.
Cathedral Choral Director
Lucy Haigh has been directing high-quality children’s choirs since the age of sixteen. She founded and directed The Hildegard Choir for girls in Oxford in 1991, reaching the televised semi-finals of the BBC Choir of the Year competition in 1998 and 2000 and winning the International Choir Festival of Jersey in 2004. Lucy worked in Perth, Western Australia from 2006-2010, where she held the post of Head of Choral Music at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls. She has also founded a number of boys’ choirs during her career, including the Palestrina Boys’ Choir in Oxford and The Dragon Singers in Perth. Lucy joined the Diocese of Leeds music staff since September 2010. She established the two Cathedral Junior Choirs in 2011, the Cathedral Children’s Choir in 2014 and the Leeds Trinity Cathedral Choirs in September 2016. In addition to her work at the Cathedral, Lucy visits eleven primary schools each week to lead sessions as part of the Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme.
Lucy was born in North Yorkshire and sang as a church chorister from the age of seven. She went on to study music at degree and masters levels at Leeds College of Music, and was awarded a Choral Scholarship at Leeds Cathedral. Lucy has worked for Scottish Opera and is a regular at the Buxton International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival. Particular distinction has been recognised in her solo performances of Bach and Handel oratorio with Sheffield Bach Choir, Bradford Festival Chorus and St Peter’s Singers amongst others. Lucy has established and worked with numerous children’s choirs at schools across the North of England and was previously the choral director for St Aidan’s Church Choir in Leeds.
Alexander Kyle read music at the University of Huddersfield, where he studied conducting under Natalia Luis-Bassa and singing with Andrew Slater. A life-long choral singer, Alex began conducting choirs in 2010 and became the Huddersfield Choral Society’s Choral Conducting Scholar in 2011. He joined the Diocese of Leeds Music Programme in 2012 as Conducting Scholar and is now Choral Director for Bradford with responsibility for the Bradford and Keighley Junior Choir. Alex is also musical director of the vibrant Vocalis Chamber Choir in Harrogate, a role in which he regularly collaborates with, and guest conducts, other groups. Recent collaborators include the Harrogate Philharmonic Orchestra, Ripon’s St Cecilia Orchestra and English Touring Opera. In September 2015 he shared the conducting podium with John Rutter at the launch concert of the Halcyon Youth Choir.
Charlotte Kitson graduated in 2011 from the University of Birmingham with a First Class Honours degree in Music, and was shortly after appointed as Choral Director for Bradford in the Schools’ Singing Programme. She left the Music Department in 2014 to pursue a PGCE in Secondary Music at Leeds Trinity University, and then worked as a Teacher of Music and RE at St. Bede’s and St. Joseph’s Catholic College in Bradford, completing her NQT induction and Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS) in July 2015. Charlotte first became involved with the Music Department when she joined the Cathedral Girls’ Choir at the age of 16, later becoming a Choral Scholar at Leeds and then at St. Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham.
Sally Egan was born in Leeds and educated at Notre Dame High School. She read music at Cambridge University and studied singing in Paris with Maria-Grazia Dilluvio and in London with Lillian Watson. She has sung opera and oratorio all over the world under the baton of many leading conductors including Claudio Abbado, Daniel Harding, William Christie and Pierre Boulez. Sally also specialises in training treble voices. Prior to her appointment in Leeds, she worked as a vocal coach with the choristers of Westminster Cathedral and taught singing to the choristers of Westminster Abbey. Sally works for Opera North as a workshop leader, choral director and animateur and she also works with choirs all over the country alongside her role as Choral Director of Holy Rosary and St Anne’s Primary School in Chapeltown.
Composer in Residence
As a boy, John Duggan dreamed of becoming a composer. He was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and went on to study music at Oxford. For a number of years he toured and recorded with rock, folk and jazz bands and worked as a studio and live-sound engineer and producer. For three years he was the Creative Arts Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, and he is now living the dream as an established name in the choral world. John’s music has been performed and broadcast all over the globe and he is increasingly in demand as a composer who writes music that is sensitive to the text, and is exciting and rewarding for singers and audiences alike. John says: I was blessed with the experience of singing as a child and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to write new music for the choirs here in Yorkshire, and to be part of the Schools Singing Programme, which offers children from all backgrounds a chance to use their voices and make music together. A number of John’s works are published by Shorter House and Novello and you can find out more about him at www.john-duggan.co.uk and hear his music at www.soundcloud.com/john-duggan
Originally from Northumberland, Tom studied music at Huddersfield University, specialising in Piano Performance, and gained BMus and PGCE qualifications. Settling in Yorkshire, he was a school music teacher for several years before embarking on a more varied musical career. He now combines individual tuition with performing and accompanying, and has played in a range of venues across the North of England, including The Sage, Gateshead, Harewood House, Bradford Cathedral and Leeds College of Music. Concerto appearances have included works by Poulenc and Beethoven. In addition, Tom has played for conducting workshops and opera rehearsals both in Higher Education institutions and at a professional level. Tom is Organist and Director of Music at St Anne’s Catholic Church in Keighley and on the examiner panel of the ABRSM, working across the UK, Ireland and Hong Kong.
Notable former members of staff
2018 Caius Lee (Organ Scholar) appointed as Organ Scholar at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
2016 George Ford (Organ Scholar) appointed as Director of Music for the Parish of Boston
2015 Daniel Justin (Cathedral Organist and Choral Director for Harrogate) appointed as Director of Music for the Diocese of East Anglia
2013 Keith Roberts (Choral Director for Huddersfield) appointed as Director of Choral Music at St Aloysius’ College, Glasgow
2012 Christopher McElroy (Assistant Diocesan Director of Music) appointed as Director of Music at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
2011 Claudine Tat (Music Department Administrator) retired to Headingley and Tuscany
2010 Christopher Johns (Choral Director for Bradford) appointed as Director of Music at Leicester Anglican Cathedral