The Singers

James Adams (2014-2017)

  • Bass

Originally an extremely mediocre treble, James turned up at St John’s already having spent a year in East Anglia, like many others trying to improve his repertoire at Norwich Cathedral. He was successful in this, but only in terms of his repertoire of Adnams’ ales, which is now unparalleled. He is not in fact musical at all, and is sure that his three out of twenty one in a grade eight sight singing exam will be noticed by someone, but until then will make the most of his time in the choir. James’s hobbies include being mistaken for Ron Weasley and travelling ‘executive class’; when not in choir, he can be found staring at copies of the Tractatus in the vague hope that some of it will go in, or in his own personal hell.

William Ashford (2014-2017)

  • Tenor

William’s earliest memories are biting his sister’s back with his new incisors and watching his father being electrocuted by a toaster. There is no doubt that his insanity stems from these traumatic episodes of youth. Let us not forget that for a large part of his life he wished to be the lovechild of Blackbeard and Picasso. He started singing lessons at the age of four when his mother heard him mimicking the sounds of a rotund, bearded Italian tenor on the radio. Sadly his sight-reading has remained at that infantile level. When not in the chapel you will probably find him in the theatre reciting Shakespeare or wallowing in a Pinter pause. He likes digging for random bits of pottery in South-America and has a penchant for fish. One of his many goals in life is setting up the first nudist colony in Antarctica. He enjoys composing (currently writing an opera about the love triangles of Darwin’s finches), writing plays (most recently The platypus in Gertrude’s pancreas) and making experimental short-films.

James Beddoe (2016-2017)

  • Tenor
‘Beddoe’ began his musical education at his birth with the profound, sonorous sounds of The Bee Gees… although his parents have neglected to tell him which song it was that precipitated this momentous event. Being born and raised in and around Nottingham, he can of course assemble an AK-47 Assault Rifle in 20 seconds. He left his childhood home to ride around on that essential of historical experiences – the Jorvik Viking Centre – for approximately three years continuously, explaining the enticing aroma of the 8th Century that surrounds him wherever he goes.
Beddoe had done his best to avoid the city of Cambridge, as during a visit in his youth he felt victim to an horrific act of mansplaying by the director of another prestigious choral foundation. Eventually, however, he was able to overcome his childhood demons as by fortunate happenstance he stumbled upon the marvellous Gents of St John’s, an organisation which has supported Beddoe in becoming an internationally renowned interpreter of Philip ‘Sir Roger’ Moore. Other useful skills include knowing whether Duruflé was writing his Requiem for any given year and getting completely lost in the Cambridgeshire countryside.

Michael Bell (2014-2017)

  • Tenor

Michael is the only Gent to hail from across the Irish Sea, a fact he suspects may be responsible for his having been christened ‘Irish Mark’ upon arrival in 2014. In his spare time, Michael enjoys growing comedy facial hair, speaking with a funny accent and remaining affairs current. He also dabbles in a Music degree, though strictly on a fortnightly basis.

Daniel Brown (2016-2017)

  • Alto

After finally accepting that an inability to dance might get in the way of a career on Broadway, Daniel Brown took the mature and measured approach of quitting the tenor voice altogether in order to pursue a life in the choir stalls, where the tap, modern, and jazz requirements are less rigorous. Fortunately, liturgical life is well suited to his other passions, the music of the English Renaissance and looking damn fine in a cassock. Daniel looks forward to spending the year trying to convince the Gents to arrange and perform a medley from Lemonade, the instantly iconic visual Beyoncé album tackling infidelity, race, and feminism. He will not succeed and it will be for the best. In his spare time Daniel enjoys a stiff drink, the Oxford comma, and talking about himself in the third person.

Hugh Cutting (2015-2018)

  • Alto

Kieran was born in 1993. Hugh was born in 1996. That, however, is the only discernible difference. Having been to Abingdon, Hugh justifiably feels wildly superior to other gents. His chocolatey countertenor has been described by Helen of Troy as ‘being kinda like that chick who launched a thousand boats, but less hot’. Outside of choir, Hugh enjoys foutons, exotic bathing and becoming intimately acquainted with Jesus (Green).

Glen Dempsey (2015-2018)

  • Organ
  • Tenor

Given the number of wonderful accents in the Gents, and also the College’s position in East Anglia, Glen is disappointed that he has been unable to retain any of his native Suffolk vowel sounds. That being said, he often unintentionally inserts exotic diphthongs into words whilst singing. When he is not doing that, he can usually be found in the organ loft, where he indulges in his favourite pastimes of transposition, score-reading and pencil sharpening.

After spending a year playing the organ and drinking cider at Windsor Castle, Glen moved to Amsterdam on a whim and studied the organ further at a church in the heart of the Red Light District. He feels slightly prepared for life in the Gents as a result of these experiences. His other interests include searching for hitherto undiscovered functions on his scientific calculator, and pretending to know what he’s talking about generally.

Simon Grant (2016-2019)

  • Bass

Simon spent most of his youth singing in the Cultural Hub of The South: Romsey. He spent a year as a Choral Scholar at Truro Cathedral where he developed his skills in apologising for not being able to sing low enough in a more professional setting. Simon now spends a lot of time muddling through the identity crisis that comes from being a member of the choir that comes from “Not St. John’s” College, Cambridge, where he has decided to learn how to look at, and sometimes write, dots and lines on a page. Outside the choir, he enjoys playing badminton and squash, making particular efforts to clean up the images of these noble sports after the multiple scandals concerning them that have attracted headlines recently.

Matthew Gibson (2016-2019)

  • Bass

William Wallace, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alex Ferguson are among those to have been born in the city of Glasgow. This is where any similarities between them and Matthew end. Steeped in treachery most foul, having been a chorister at King’s College, Matthew continues his evolution from mediocre treble into mediocre baritone with much enthusiasm. He hopes that the impression that he knows anything at all about music, which he currently studies, can be maintained long enough for him to emerge from university with some sort of qualification. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys trying to grow facial hair and talk to girls.

Daniel Gethin (2016-2017)

  • Alto

Dan was famously made to look a fool in his early attempts to ‘discover himself’ vocally in a car crash tenor audition upon arriving in Cambridge. Since then he’s bathed happily in the murky waters of Countertenor. After a year singing at Jesus, he accepted his destiny as Judas the betrayer to turn towards pastures new. Many asked why – as a self-defined aesthete, he openly acknowledges the lure of the scarf, and continues to sing primarily to indulge his proclivity for red accessories. Described by one source as ‘possessing a voice somewhere between that of a pigeon and a peacock’, he is much happier associated with the John’s Eagle. Dan likes to relax by acting buffoon Shakespeare roles and drinking claret in the hope that it will one day inspire him to poetry.

Jack Hawkins (2014-2017)

  • Alto

Like a number of previous Gents, Jack’s first experience of evensong was in the stalls of Kingston Upon Thames’ remarkably little known cathedral. Originally lured into falsetto singing as a temporary move, awaiting the imminent success of his career as an operatic tenor, Jack eventually came to appreciate the more subtle glamour of the countertenor voice. Since coming to St. John’s, he has enjoyed working with fellow Gent and classicist, Xauier, in a bid to increase the popularity of Latin as a spoken language. The other Gents have been highly supportive of this endeavour. Jack enjoys real ales, fine wines, the political philosophy of John Grisham and the thrillers of pseudo-Xenophon. He dislikes speedy boarders and margarine. When not in chapel he may be found seeking a wider audience for his Greek hexameter poetry or surveying the varied social landscape of ‘B’ staircase, Chapel court.

Gopal Kambo (2015-2018)

  • Tenor

Having been an unsuccessful treble and then subsequent alto in his early secondary school days, Gopal’s voice eventually did just about break and he came to discover the wonders of the numerous subtleties of belting loudly as a tenor. Whilst originally he planned to get by in Cambridge under the pretence of dabbling in some French and Spanish, he ‘saw the light’ and now attempts to study for a Music degree in an equally futile manner. He can often be found by the other Gents being a connoisseur of cheese or asking people what the date is.

Piers Kennedy (2016-2017)

  • Bass

Piers Kennedy has very few if any distinctive features. Researchers compiling anecdotal evidence now largely agree that Piers once studied something somewhere. When casting a wistful eye along the ranks of distinguished gents, it has sometimes been heard of an onlooker to remark “Who’s that bloke?” – that’s probably Piers.

When not in the pub, Piers enjoys singing. It has been recorded that Piers enjoys spending large portions of his time in the choir imagining forking a poached egg, before occasionally being prompted to sing a low note, with much gravitas and finesse*. Impressively, Piers can usually complete most of a non-cryptic crossword with a bit of help.

*Finesse may vary; see Terms and Conditions.^
^Terms and Conditions: there is no finesse.

Peter Lidbetter – Manager (2015-2017)

  • Bass

In 1994 in a freak lab accident, scientists in Memphis, Tennassee managed to reanimate the corpse of Elvis Presley. The creation escaped, fled the facility and was eventually adopted by a kindly English couple who took him to their home in South West London and helped him blend seamlessly back into society. It rapidly became clear that the slapdash nature of the failed experiment had managed to restore only 77% of the former superstar’s height, 2% of his musical aptitude and 0.03% of his charisma, but since he showed no interest in anything else, it was eventually decided that codename “Peter Lidbetter” would try and make it as a singer anyway in an attempt to recover his former fame and fortune. After three years reading music at Jesus College, one day he accidentally wandered into the Maypole where he had his first encounter with the ever observant Gents. They immediately blew his cover but promised not to reveal his secret to the world if he took on the dreaded role of choir librarian for the next academic year. They also let him sing along in services to keep him busy.

Louis Marlowe (2015-2017)

  • Bass

Known by many names; names such as Colin, Golin, Anton Goose, and Mr. Grumbletrousers – none of which being his name, a fact referenced by ‘The Ting Tings’ in their song ‘That’s Not My Name’ – this bipedal organism has developed in many far-flung areas of the country in an attempt to assimilate seamlessly into human society, taking the form of a male homo sapiens with a big snout and bad eyes. After earning billions working in the freight industry, the creature moved to Cambridge to assume the role of Lay Clerk in the Chapel of St John’s College. It was not long thereafter that the management structure of the Gentlemen of St John’s realised that, when placed in a dark room with a steady supply of burritos, this “man” will produce vocal arrangements of various songs at a reasonable quality. The thing sings as well, but we don’t like to talk about that.

Stephen Matthews (2014-2017)

  • Bass

Hailing from the scenic city of Wolverhampton, once voted fifth worst city in the world, Stephen has enjoyed the transformation from poshest Wulfrunian to most ‘Brummie’ Gent. Though his height might suggest otherwise, Stephen’s voice broke at the age of 11, and a year later resigned himself to singing bass despite brief flirtations with the role of tenor. Though the studies of his four older siblings were in the sciences, languages or law, he has opted to break away from the mould in becoming a musician. In his spare time he enjoys cheese rolling, baking quiche and being mistaken for a boy chorister.

Louis Watkins (2016-2019)

  • Tenor

Louis started his singing at Hampton Court Palace as a chorister in the Chapel Royal. As a treble he once recorded a solo on a track for the rock band U2, gaining him at least a few days’ worth of fame. Despite not having grown much taller since his treble days, he continued his singing and enjoyed a Gap Year as a Choral Scholar at Truro Cathedral where he became best friends with the smoke alarm whenever attempting to prepare delicious feasts. He joins several Gents in reading Music at John’s although his real passions lie with supporting his local team AFC Wimbledon (a team overshadowed by a poncy tennis competition), and also explaining the riveting, heart-warming story of the club’s history. He has also been known to “love the Maypole” from time to time.

Joseph Wicks – Musical Director (2013-2017)

  • Organ
  • Tenor

Having spent most of his time practising the organ, Joseph has been confused for years: it turns out he’s actually a singer. An exclusive Staedtler 4B pencil practitioner and a fastidious scheduler, it does seem strange how he has managed to come to being an organist as well as a singer, two of the most stereotypically disorganized professions. However, one needs only to look at his father and see the exact correlation, even as far as the voice part of tenor. Joseph, again like his dad, and because of ‘unjustifiable’ reasons, is also a lifelong Formula 1 fan. In his spare time he used to like learning a short piece (yet another) of ‘Edwardiana’ for the organ (due to his namesake Grand Master Edward Picton-Turbervill, of course), but now he doesn’t have any spare time, having just become the Musical Director of the Gents.