The Singers

James Adams (2014-2018)

  • 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.

James Anderson-Besant (2017-2020)

  • Bass
  • Organ

Born in ‘the other place,’ James grew up in close proximity to a helicopter base. Sadly this aural onslaught had a devastating impact on his singing voice, so he took up the organ instead. Really an engineer in pitiful disguise as a musician, James has often attempted to hide his dark past as a creator of Lego keyboard instruments, but to no avail. After extensive modification in brick, the chapel organ can now cook pasta and, for James’ own health, closely monitor his enthusiasm for St John’s psalmody. James spent a gap year at Gloucester Cathedral, where he set a world record for the loudest sneeze ever recorded in a sacred building. His interests include the fauxbourdon canticle settings of Philip Moore and the art of apologising from the organ loft.

Michael Bell (2014-2018)

  • 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 (2016-2018) – Manager

  • 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.

Jamie Conway (2017-2020)

  • Bass

Jamie’s singing began in the glorious city of Gloucester, a place he widely advocates as “really lovely – better than it first seems…” Like several other Gents he spent a year before coming to St John’s brushing up on all those favourite Anglican tunes at Truro Cathedral, which mainly comprised of getting to know Cornwall’s innumerable beaches, pubs and curry houses. His first choral scholarship also gave him a prime opportunity to pretend to also be “an organist,” something which he reminds the John’s organ scholars on a daily basis. A member of Robinson College, he takes full advantage of the ability to dodge social events on the excuse that he commitments elsewhere, when actually he’s in bed procrastinating any form of mental engagement.

Hugh Cutting (2015-2018) – Musical Director

  • 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).

Richard Decker (2017-2021)

  • Alto

Richard’s quest for fame began at the tender age of 13, when he proposed to a young lady on the One Show Christmas Special. He is very grateful no visual evidence remains of this brief encounter. Still relatively new to the countertenor voice, the novelty of correcting those who assume he sings Tenor or Bass has yet to wear off, and – public adolescent proposals now behind him – he hopes to make a name for himself as the world’s first coloratura alto. If you have any idea what that is, do get in touch. He’s at a loss. An MML student reading French and Italian, it took all of two weeks for doubts to creep in that Richard had made a terrible mistake when he was reliably informed that his pronunciation of a favourite piece of Fauré was “absolutely appalling.” He is beginning to suspect his native South London was not the best place to pick up an authentic accent. Whilst he loves being in the Gents, Richard was dismayed to find he was no longer automatically the sassiest, most fabulous man in the room. He hopes to spend the next few years regaining the title, and the tiara he assumes comes with it.

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.

Benna Flinn (2014-2016)

  • Tenor

Benedict rejoins the Gents after six months as a DJ at a local, yet European, radio station in Pays de la Loire. Before that he spent three months in Paris teaching ‘Very Early Learners’ how to say the word ‘Yellow’ and forgetting that they had gone to the toilet. His arguments with mothers at the school gate gained him respect and admiration from his colleagues. Benedict now divides his time between translating into French the works of Britpop sensation ‘Jarvis Cocker’, and investigating the reasons behind the 14 year hiatus of the lesser-known English singer-songwriter John Cunningham. He lives for the weekend.

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 to talk to girls.

Simon Grant (2016-2019) – Treasurer

  • Bass

Simon 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 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. He has decided to learn how to look at, and sometimes write, a lot of dots and lines on a page.

Outside the choir, he enjoys doing stuff that he wants to do, and is enthusiastic about various methods of transport, including bicycles, and bouncing. His whisky preference is currently those distilled in northern mainland Japan, but he has been known to drink those from other areas, including Scotland. Simon would like to visit Iceland at some point.

Jack Hawkins (2014-2018)

  • Alto

Jack was 7 years old when he met a future Gent at a Beaver Scout meeting in South London. In the following years Jack embarked on hobbies that he still enjoys, including being unable to grow facial hair and being told not to use his modal voice. He is in his fourth year in the choir. He is meant to be studying for an MPhil on things that won’t be of any use to anyone. He occasionally finds this dispiriting. He wonders what he will do when he becomes a grownup. He enjoys reading poetry, walking, cooking, and occasionally a game of sports.

Gopal Kambo (2015-2018) – Assistant Musical Director

  • 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 (2016-2018)

  • 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.

Henry Laird (2017-2020)

  • Tenor

Henry Laird was extracted from Middlesbrough at the age of 8 and shaved by several monks. With them he lived in rough moorland for the next 10 years, a period in which he became well-versed in 21 st century parlance and contemporary form-filling. His vow of chastity was very easy to keep during this time. It was only following receipt of his unconditional offer to join the Gents that he found himself surrounded by legions of Cornish men and woman all clamouring after his coarse habit. Henry’s solemn way of life was fascinating to the people of Truro, who appointed him their King. 500 years later, Henry IX rode through the Great Gate of St John’s College Cambridge. He has never ceased to be appalled by ‘degeneracy-run-ryfe’ and the meagre amounts of beefe consumed within the college walls. He is often to be found on the Wren Bridge taking advantage of the college’s swan-spearing licence.

Will O’Brien (2017-2020)

  • Bass

One of three Gents to hail from depths of Suffolk, Will has been singing from a young age, and thus it would be understandable to expect a half-decent standard of sight reading. Alas, this is not the case. After singing in 3 operas as a treble, Will decided that opera involved far too much movement and thus began to explore the rather more static world of cathedral music. Will spent his Gap year at Gloucester Cathedral as a choral scholar, in an attempt to increase his knowledge of repertoire, with moderate success. In addition to singing, Will attempts to make some acceptable sounds on the French horn and Piano (with limited success). Outside of music, Will enjoys avid binge-watching of the Great British Bake Off, as well as increasing his knowledge of herbal tea and its many variants.

James Quilligan (2017-2018)

  • Bass

A remarkably tall gent, James’ formative years were spent as a treble, flitting between the various choirs of Cambridge. Upon realising his mediocrity, he cut his losses and moved to Manchester where he successfully watched the entire series of Scrubs, twice (except season 9 because it was terrible and no-one counts that). Prior to returning to Cambridge, James spent several years in London singing very loudly and doing ‘admin’ until a fellow Gent suggested he’d be better served singing very loudly at St John’s. Whilst in Cambridge James is looking forward to exploring the vast beer offering at the Maypole, playing dress up, and staring enviously at Piers and his subsonic rumblings.

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.