OUR MUSICAL DIRECTOR

Ben England is the Musical Director of The Larks.  He lives in Bristol and is married to Ana – a concert pianist – with whom he has two children, Katie (11) and Bobby (6).

A graduate of Bristol University, Ben trained as a conductor with Dr Alan Rump and Dr Adrian Beaumont, before going on to study conducting with Denise Ham of the London Conducting Academy. During his undergraduate years, he led countless concerts and services, was Conductor of the University Chamber Choir and Musical Director of the University Opera three times including the critically acclaimed production of Don Giovanni in 1999. After graduation, Ben sang with groups as diverse as the New English Orchestra, the Bristol Chamber Choir, Bristol Opera, the Exultate Singers and the Choirs of both Clifton and Bristol Cathedral. A bass baritone, he has performed widely as an oratorio and operatic singer, including lead roles in The Cunning Little Vixen and Der Mond (for Bristol Opera), The Magic Flute and the Pirates of Penzance.  

He currently teaches singing to adults and young people across the South West. An Advanced Skills Secondary Music Teacher, he has extensive experience in education and has led music at a county level across Bristol and South Gloucestershire, and held the post of Head of Music at several schools including Colston’s Girls’ School for five years.  

In 2002, Ben was appointed conductor of the Bristol Cabot Choir, and over the eight years he worked with them, transformed the choir into a major musical force in Bristol. The success of his work with the Cabot Choir led to his subsequent appointment as Musical Director of Bristol Opera, where he led the company in successful performances of Handel’s Samson and Lakmé by Delibes. He has led numerous choirs in and around Bristol for the past 20 years, including the New Harmony Ladies Choir (now Sound of Song), a number of afternoon choirs, the Bristol Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society, and has led rehearsals for the City of Bristol Choir, Bristol Chamber Choir and St Paul’s Church choir.  

He leads several orchestras including the Nailsea Concert Orchestra and has recently conducted performances of Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Elgar Enigma Variations, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Radio 4s John Telfer.  In November 2018 he conducted the revival of Eric Wetherell’s WWI opera A Foreign Field in Bristol, which won the NODA Best Dramatic Production award.  

He is an experienced leader of large-scale concerts and has conducted performances of thousands at venues including Bristol’s Colston Hall, St George’s Brandon Hill, Symphony Hall Birmingham and St David’s Hall Cardiff. 

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Ben established a number of online choirs, including Homechoir(which features the Quarantine Choir) and The Self-Isolation Choir which in May 2020 performed a unique version of Handel’s Messiah with nearly 4000 singers from around the world.  The story was featured on global news outlets included the BBC Evening News at 6pm and an extended version on the News at 10pm, BBC Breakfast, Points West, BBC World Service, Reuters around the world as well as BBC Radio Wales with Wynne Evans, BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Cymru with Sian Cothi – along with Dr Glyn Jones –  our Welsh Speaker in the Larks.