Renowned for his beautiful choral music, Philip WJ Stopford is a British composer with an impressive musical background and an enviable reputation as a fun, engaging and meticulous choir trainer. Currently Director of Music at Christ Church, Bronxville, New York, Philip still finds time for workshops, concerts and recordings across the world, and is passionate about creating new works and seeing his music performed by choirs at all levels.
Philip Stopford, Christ Church, 17 Sagamore Road, Bronxville, New York, 10708, United States
THE EARLY YEARS …
Westminster Abbey, London, UK (1986 - 1990)
On a day trip to London in 1985, a 7 year old Philip and his mother went to Westminster Abbey for a voice trail. Philip, having thought he was perhaps going to London Zoo or Madame Tussauds, won a place to become a Chorister at Westminster Abbey, and was soon packing his bags to begin this wonderful musical opportunity, living in the Abbey Choir School from April 1986. For four years, Philip sung with the other 35 Choristers and Probationers for the daily services of Choral Evensong and Sunday Eucharist and Choral Matins. In addition to this time honoured tradition, the choir made several recordings in Westminster Abbey, and toured 13 different cities of America in 1988. He sang at the Memorial Service of Sir Laurence Olivier which was broadcast live on BBC1 television. It was here that Philip began to learn the Organ, in addition to Piano and Violin.
Truro Cathedral, Cornwall, UK (1995 - 1996)
Upon leaving Bedford School, Philip was appointed Organ Scholar at Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, UK working with Andrew Nethsingha and Simon Morley. Philip trained the Probationer Choristers, accompanied the Cathedral Choir at some services, and also had the honour of being the liturgical organist for the Wedding of Andrew and Lucy Nethsingha. He also composed a set of Versicles and Responses for the Cathedral Choir and a descant to St Clement. The Lord’s Prayer from the Responses is Philip’s earliest published work, part of 'Three Sacred Miniatures', published by Hal Leonard.
Keble College, Oxford, UK (1996 - 1999)
In 1996, Philip won a place at Oxford University to read for a BA in Music, and was appointed Organ Scholar at Keble College. He directed the College Chapel Choir, made several recordings and toured a number of Cathedrals in the UK with his singers. The CD Lux Mundi (Light of the world) was followed by one volume of the Priory Records series Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis both recorded in the College Chapel’s glorious acoustic. Philip also directed performances of the Bach St John Passion and B Minor Mass, and the chamber choir Musica Beata.
Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, UK (1999 - 2000)
Philip was appointed Organ Scholar at Canterbury Cathedral in 1999, and saw in the new millennium at the “mother-church" of the Anglican Communion. He accompanied the Cathedral Choir, and regularly sang as counter-tenor in the Cathedral Choir, under the direction of David Flood. Philip accompanied the International Children’s Choir Festival directed by Henry Leck and David Flood, and first made his publishing connection with Henry Leck’s "Creating Artistry" Series with Hal Leonard Publishers.
MORE RECENTLY …
Chester Cathedral, UK (2000 - 2002)
In April 2000, Philip moved to Chester Cathedral as Assistant Organist. With nine choral services every week, the music staff were kept busy with the Boy Choristers, Girl Choristers, Lay Clerks and Nave Choir (the voluntary choir). Philip also taught piano at a local independent school, Abbey Gate College, and directed the chamber choir, Vox Dicentis.
St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, UK (2003 - 2010)
Aged 25, Philip was appointed Director of Music at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, becoming the youngest Anglican Cathedral Organist at the time. He was responsible for recruitment and training of the Cathedral Choir of Boys and Adults, and also founded the Cathedral Youth Choir. The Centenary of the Consecration of the Cathedral was celebrated in 2004 with a busy year of additional special services and events. In 2007, the choir was pivotal in celebrating the Consecration of the newly erected Spire of Hope. The Cathedral Choirs recorded three CDs under Philip's direction - Mysterium (Christmas Music) Celtic Inspirations and a volume of Hymns for Priory Records. The choir also broadcast live on BBC Radio 4, and featured in two Songs of Praise programmes from the Cathedral. This was also a prolific time for composition, writing a new original Christmas anthem or carol arrangement every year, including A Christmas Blessing and Lully Lulla Lullay. Philip recorded the albums Creation, A Christmas Blessing and Te Deum and Benedicite: Music for the Liturgy CDs in Belfast and Downpatrick Cathedrals.
Composer and Conductor, Belfast and Chester, UK (2010 - 2015)
For five years, Philip pursued a career as choral composer and conductor, happily leaving behind Belfast Cathedral. This was the time to use what he had learnt as an all round Cathedral musician and choir trainer, and build on his ideas and experience in creating new and performable music for choirs across the globe. With commissions aplenty and a chance to travel and meet singers both in Europe and North America, Philip enjoyed the freedom being self employed allowed. There was success in the prestigious Classic FM Hall Of Fame in 2013, 2014 and 2015 with tracks Lully Lulla Lullay, Do Not Be Afraid and Irish Blessing. In 2012, Truro Cathedral Choir recorded the hugely successful CD Do Not Be Afraid which has sold in the many thousands across the world. In 2015 St Paul’s Cathedral Choir recorded Lully Lulla Lullay for DECCA Records.
Christ Church, Bronxville, NY, USA (2016 - )
In January 2016 Philip was appointed Director of Music at Christ Church, Bronxville following a four month period as Composer in Residence. Philip is responsible for the semi-professional church choir and 'Young at Arts’ children’s choir program. His contract allows him time to continue composing and promoting his choral music, and there are exciting times ahead in both these roles …