Will Prideaux is the man whose drive and vision are responsible for Peterborough Male Voice Choir’s remarkable upturn of fortunes in recent years, and in the resulting development of the city’s unique music education charity. Every week, Peterborough Sings! works with over 250 members in Peterborough Male Voice Choir, Peterborough Voices and Peterborough Youth Choir and with hundreds of local schoolchildren through its outreach programmes
A native of Cornwall, Will studied as an undergraduate at Liverpool University, gaining first-class honours for his work in orchestration, historical performance and Baroque editing. After post-graduate studies at Trinity College Cambridge he went on to study voice and choral conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and is nationally recognised as a specialist in the male voice genre. He has worked extensively as a consultant and guest conductor, most recently with Leeds and the London Welsh Male Voice Choirs.
A sell-out concert with legendary soprano Lesley Garrett at the Broadway Theatre in July 2011 raised £10,000 for Help for Heroes
Will was appointed Musical Director of Peterborough Male Voice Choir in January 2010 and promptly set about increasing membership and attracting a younger demographic with the spectacularly successful Sing for Heroes project. This culminated in a sell-out concert with legendary soprano Lesley Garrett at the Broadway Theatre in July 2011, raising £10,000 for Help for Heroes into the bargain. A parallel recruitment project aimed at women launched almost simultaneously: originally intended as stand-alone event, the success of Sing for Life led to the formation of Peterborough Voices in October 2011. They have never looked back, performing with Brit Award-winning group Blake and with Bernie Nolan, singing mass in Siena Cathedral and recording a CD, Invitation to Eternity. Their third Sing for Life project recently raised well over £8,000 for Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice appeal.
In 2011, Will received a special award from the judging panel of the International Male Voice Choral Festival in recognition of his contribution to choral conducting
In 2011, Will founded Peterborough Youth Choir, which offers children the opportunity to learn to sing completely free of charge and has quickly become the city’s leading youth music group, working with more than 115 members from over 20 schools. Peterborough Youth Choir recently featured in the national tours of Evita and Joseph at the Broadway Theatre, as well as recording for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and filming segments for BBC One’s Songs of Praise.
In 2011, Peterborough Male Voice choir won the EPIC award from Voluntary Arts (UK) which recognised ‘outstanding success in reviving the fortunes of the choir’. In the same year Will received a special award from the judging panel of the International Male Voice Choral Festival in recognition of his contribution to choral conducting, and in 2012 he was identified by Creative Peterborough as one of the city’s most influential people in the arts. He was recently shortlisted in the Best Music Leader category of the Vivacity Youth Music Awards. As Director of Peterborough Sings!, Will is leading the Arts Council England-funded Sing! initiative for Peterborough Music Partnership which aims to improve provision for singing in the city’s schools.
Will is a hard taskmaster who demands 100% commitment from everyone he works with. This is balanced by the deeply held belief that anyone and everyone can learn to sing
The ‘big sing’ events organised by Peterborough Sings! as part of the Peterborough Singing Strategy – two World War One Centenary Singing Days at the Kingsgate Auditorium last June and four Rock’n’Roll Singing Days at the Broadway Theatre last October – have between them seen nearly 3,000 children from over 30 local primary schools participate. Will is currently also working with several Peterborough primary schools to develop dedicated boys’ choirs. In the last few years Peterborough Male Voice Choir have performed with musicians as diverse as Grimethorpe Colliery Band and folk hero Jon Boden of Bellowhead in venues from Truro Cathedral to the Sage Gateshead and all points between, regularly featuring on BBC local and national radio. They have consolidated their growing national and international standing with competition success both at the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival and at the Cheltenham Music Festival where they recently achieved three first places, winning the hotly contested Open Choral Class against thirteen other choirs.
And the story doesn’t end there! Resident since last April at Peterborough’s iconic 1,200-seat Broadway Theatre, the choirs’ Christmas Magic spectacular recently played to a packed house – having sold out a full month beforehand! – and ambitious plans for 2015 include bringing stellar musicians such as Errolyn Wallen MBE, The Kings Singers and The Black Dyke Band to Peterborough to work and perform with the choirs. Will is a hard taskmaster who demands 100% commitment from everyone he works with. This is balanced by the deeply held belief that anyone and everyone can learn to sing and a hugely supportive culture within the choirs, which encourages members’ personal development.
‘It’s thrilling that the breadth and excellence of the work achieved by Peterborough Sings is so widely recognised’
Given the choirs’ continuing growth, competition success and ability to attract world-class talent to work with them here in Peterborough, it’s clearly a winning formula. ‘It’s thrilling that the breadth and excellence of the work achieved by Peterborough Sings is so widely recognised,’ says Will. ‘It’s amazing what hard graft and teamwork can achieve in a relatively short period of time!’ Will has bought and renovated a house in the city centre. which is hopefully a good sign that he’s staying put… Peterborough needs him!
Peterborough Male Voice Choir, Peterborough Voices and Peterborough Youth Choir welcome new members. For further information please visit www.peterboroughmvchoir.org.uk