April 8, 2016

Holy Trinity new Director of Music

Following Timothy Noon’s return to the UK, Holy Trinity has appointed a successor, Michael Stoddart.

Michael commenced his musical education as a chorister at Westminster Abbey where he studied the organ with Christopher Herrick. After secondary education at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School in Elstree and gaining his ARCO, he was appointed Organ Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. Here he played a full part in Oxford musical life both as an organist, playing daily choral evensong, and as a singer deputising at Christ Church and New College. Returning to London, he was appointed organist and choirmaster of St Peter’s Streatham, where he directed a mixed choir and was able to enjoy playing a four-manual Hill instrument, and sang as a deputy lay clerk at St Paul’s Cathedral.

He then moved to Paris for an extended period of organ study at the Paris Conservatoire with Susan Landale. He was appointed organist and then choirmaster of St George’s Church and was involved in the musical life of Evreux Cathedral, where he initiated a children’s choir. He also played a part in plans for a new organ in the Cathedral. He then directed the Choeur d’Enfants at the Parisian church of St Louis en l’Ile and spent two years as assistant organist at the American Cathedral in Paris.

Returning to the UK in 2004, he was appointed Organist and Director of Music at St Mary’s Portsea and Musical Director of the St Mary’s Music Foundation where he greatly expanded the children’s choir. He was also Assistant Sub-Organist at Portsmouth Cathedral and gained his FRCO. As a deputy lay clerk he frequently sang with the choirs of Winchester, Chichester and Portsmouth cathedrals.

Appointed Organist and Director of Music at Newcastle Cathedral in 2009, was responsible for training the Cathedral choirs of boys, girls and adults which sing for six regular weekly services, with overall responsibility for all aspects of music-making in the cathedral. While at Newcastle, he forged many links with the local community with the choirs singing at a wide variety of different venues such as the Sage Gateshead and at Alnwick Gardens for example, as well as at parishes throughout the diocese.

After seven years in Newcastle upon Tyne, Holy Trinity Cathedral offered him a number of new boxes. In particular the opportunity to direct the music in a building with a substantial (and reliable) organ with a generous, reverberant acoustic. With progress on the new cathedral organ in the UK proceeding well, and the first part already in containers on its way here, the cathedral’s New Voice rivals all but a few English cathedral organs. He feels very fortunate to be arriving as so many things at Holy Trinity come to fruition, with other people having done the hard work.

His wife Elisabeth will join him here once her teaching year comes to an end in July, while their daughters will remain in Europe. The eldest, Charlotte, is married to the Assistant Organist of Ripon Cathedral in Yorkshire and they have a daughter of their own. Lydia is currently studying at the College of Europe in Warsaw, and speaks fluent French, Spanish and Polish, Emily is studying Engineering in Portsmouth, while Celia will finish her schooling in Newcastle. It will be hard to leave them behind, but modern technology goes some way to bridging the gap.

michael stoddart