Bath's new vocal octet.
Eight experienced singers joining together to produce a thrilling sound!
Established by Neil Moore and Rupert Bevan in 2013, Vox8 aims to provide the South West with top-quality concerts in some of the best venues it has to offer. We have a core of regular members, and a 'pool' of experienced guest singers to call upon when needed.
Meet the current singers - regulars and guests:
Julia O'Connor (soprano)
Julia was born and educated in East Sussex. She studied at The University of York where she gained a Bachelor of Music and later trained with English National Opera and Mary King.
Julia performs widely in opera, oratorio and in chamber ensembles. Most notably with Vox8 Chamber Choir and Bath Consort.
Operatic roles have included; Belinda in Dido & Aeneas (University of York), Lady in The Fairy Queen (University of York), Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (Opera Nova), Mabel in Pirates of Penzance (John Ruskin Choral Society), Flora in La Traviata (Park Opera), Cousin in Madam Butterfly (Park Opera).
Oratorio includes; Poulenc Gloria, Bach St Matthew Passion and St John Passion (University of York), a world premiere of a chamber oratorio about the life of William Blake written for his 250th Anniversary in St James’ Church Piccadilly, Tippett A Child of Our Time, Handel Israel in Egypt (Canticum Chamber Choir), Britten Rejoice in the Lamb and A Ceremony of Carols (East Surrey Choral Society), Brahms German Requiem, Jenkins Requiem, Saint-Saens Oratorio de Noel, Haydn Nelson Mass, Mozart Requiem, Mozart Coronation Mass and Schubert Magnificat (John Ruskin Choral Society), Vivaldi Gloria, Dvorak Stabat Mater and Rutter Magnificat (Bromley Œcumenical Singers), J S Bach Cantata No. 140 (Bradford on Avon Choral Society), JS Bach Cantata No. 140, Mozart Missa Brevis in D and CPE Bach Magnificat (Bath Cantata Group).
Julia teaches singing privately and spends much of her time running around after two toddlers. www.juliaoconnorsoprano.co.uk
Nerissa Faulkner (soprano)
Nerissa has sung from childhood and was a member of the church choir throughout her teenage years. She grew up and was educated in Oxfordshire, singing in Headington School’s chamber choir as head chorister. She then went to Cardiff University to study music, becoming a key member of their chamber choir and heading up the university A Cappella Society.
Following a brief spell as a primary school teacher, she moved to Somerset in 2007, spending her time focussed on her musical development. She joined a wide variety of local choirs and met lots of interesting musicians who performed with these choirs during concerts. Additionally she took up lessons, firstly with Rachel Bevan, with whom she still sings occasionally, and then with Rosa Mannion, with whom she still studies. She gained the LTCL in 2013 and has sung solos with Somerset Singers in Wedmore, Organum in Bath, Bradford on Avon Choral Society and Somerset Chamber Choir.
She currently divides her time between working as the Music Department Administrator as Millfield School in Street, giving individual singing lessons and leading a local group, Jazz m’Tazz. In addition to Vox8 she is also a member of Somerset Chamber Choir and gives solo recitals in the Wells area, performing works from a wide variety of composers and genres, particularly focussing on song cycles.
Naomi MacLeod-Jones (soprano)
Naomi joined us in Autumn 2014, while Julia took a break to concentrate on her operatic committments. We're delighted that she's continued to sing with us when the need arises, and we count ourselves lucky to have her available as a guest singer.
Penelope Davies (mezzo-soprano / contralto)
My singing career began at the age of eight, when I was told to sing the second solo verse in We Three Kings at my primary school Christmas Concert, and enjoyed the attention so much that no other path in life seemed as attractive as that of a solo concert singer! Many, many years, much training, heartache and soul searching later, nothing has managed to change this opinion, and I consider myself lucky to be able to work in a profession which offers as much pleasure and satisfaction to me as I hope it does to those who are kind enough to listen to me.
Currently I am kept busy singing at weddings, funerals, concerts and recitals and, although I am at present not taking on regular teaching commitments, singing teaching has been a large part of my working life for many years. I hope to continue to keep my links with the profession through occasional consultations and preparation for examinations, auditions etc.. I also enjoy adjudicating from time to time, and have worked several times for the Mid-Somerset Festival, Bristol Eisteddfod and Avon Rotary Young Musician competition in this capacity.
Neil Moore (director, counter-tenor)
Born in Belfast in 1978 Neil Moore developed a passion for singing at the age of 8 when he joined his local parish church choir. He was inspired by two music teachers at school and went on to The City of Belfast School of Music gaining a grounding in the rudiments of music and orchestral playing (clarinet).
Neil read music at The University of Glasgow where he conducted the wind band and orchestra. He also set up the now firmly established Music Club Choir. Whilst in Glasgow he sang tenor with St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. Upon graduating he travelled east to Edinburgh to complete a PGCE and also sang tenor with St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, under Matthew Owens. Following this he entered the classroom for a number of years and also sang with Hereford Cathedral Choir with which he appeared in the Three Choirs Festival, made several broadcasts on television and radio, recorded several CDs and toured the US extensively. During this period he also took a choir to the final of BBC Choir of the Year in 2008.
Since coming to the Bath area in 2011 Neil's quickly got stuck into its musical life singing with several choirs and directing Beckington Choir, Colerne Military Wives Choir and, since last September Bath Cantata Group. In 2013 he helped establish Vox8.
Ciaran O’Keeffe (tenor)
Ciaran trained as a chorister at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral before continuing to sing at Durham University with Dr. Jerome Roche, mainly with the Schola Cantorum. In 1986 he became a tenor lay clerk at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, additionally becoming active in the music of other collegiate choral foundations and after three years moved to London where he became an assistant master at Dulwich College in south London teaching physics for eight years. Whilst in London he was involved with many of the professional choral and church choirs, notably the Brompton Oratory where he sang for three years under John Hoban and later Andrew Carwood and Patrick Russill. He has helped to record soundtracks for television and several major feature films, including ‘Nostradamus’ and the more recent ‘To Kill a King’.
In 1997 he left London to take up a post as a tenor Vicar Choral at Wells Cathedral, singing in the choir for six years. He sang with many of the choral societies and groups in Somerset and moved to Bath in 2003 where he continues singing as a soloist with various choirs in the area and sometimes further afield. He appeared in the chorus for the Three Tenors Concert in Bath in August 2003 and to date has appeared on some eighteen compact disc recordings mostly with Oxford and Wells Cathedrals, in addition to some notable radio broadcasts and a television broadcast of some music by the late composer John Tavener. In 2006 he participated in a recording of ‘The Water is Wide’, an opera by the composer Alan Reining.
He was a very regular participant at both the Easter liturgical concert and the Christmas Bach festival concerts at Marshfield in Wiltshire between 1998 and 2012 working closely with the distinguished musicologist, organist and writer Dr. Eric Roseberry. His repertoire is wide, ranging from early and renaissance works to contemporary music.
Rupert Bevan (tenor)
Rupert Bevan (b.1955) is a scion of a large musical family from Somerset. He received his first musical training within his family and performed with his siblings as the Bevan Family Choir at a number of venues from the age of four.
He was a chorister (later Head Chorister) at Westminster Cathedral and at Downside. and has held posts as Organist and Choirmaster at a number of churches, most recently at St John the Evangelist, Bath.
His association with Bradford-on-Avon Choral Society began in 1996 when he succeeded Simon Ible as Musical Director.
He is an accomplished Tenor and sings as a soloist in local oratorio productions as well as chamber choirs such as the Paragon Singers of Bath.
Rupert's weekday occupation is that of an environmental scientist and inventor. He is a founder director of Zander Corporation Ltd, an organisation concerned with improving the fertility of marginal soils in arid regions, and scientific consultant to Syrinx ZA International Ltd, a company that manufactures and markets hypoallergenic soaps and skin creams.
He is married to pianist Jacqueline and has three children.
Richard Fitzsimmons (bass/baritone)
Rick started singing while at school in North London, and he settled in the Bath area after studying for an engineering degree at Bath University. He has sung for many years in choirs around Bath and elsewhere, but more recently he has focussed on singing in small groups and solo work. He is a founder member of the singing and instrumental group ‘Mendip Voices’ and the Bath based ‘Vox8’ vocal octet. He is a member of the ‘Paragon Singers’ in Bath, and regularly sings at ‘Blackdowns Early Music Project’ events in Devon.
He enjoys a varied solo repertoire, and has recently performed in works by Schütz, Rameau, de Lalande, Biber, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Elgar, Fauré, Duruflé, Stainer, Vaughan Williams and Britten, with various choirs around Bath and in Dorset.
In Summer 2015 he played the role of Baron Douphol in Bath Opera's touring production of La Traviata - his first foray into the world of opera.
Colette Henshaw (mezzo-soprano)
Colette grew up at the most southerly point of England and began her singing career performing solos in Truro Cathedral and with Cornish male voice choirs. Colette left Cornwall to study sport, dance and music in York. After gaining a first class degree, she received a British Academy of the Arts scholarship to continue her vocal studies at the University of York. It was there that she began to combine her love of dance and music by focusing on the performance of Baroque mad songs with the addition of historically informed historical gesture. This area of study led her to complete a Doctor of philosophy degree. She now gives lecture-recitals in major universities, choreographs Baroque performances and operas and has recently been asked to lecture in New Zealand. Whilst at York, Colette began to build a comprehensive solo performance repertoire, not only in early music and baroque oratorio, but in music theatre, and received acclaim for major roles in 'Oh, what a lovely war', 'The seven deadly sins' and 'The Mikado'. Pre-children, Colette toured nationally with The Early Opera Company in their rendition of Handel's 'Susanna'.
In 2008, Colette relocated with her young family to Wiltshire when offered a singing teaching position at the prestigious Marlborough College. She now also works as a conductor and chorale animateur for the Wiltshire Music Service, whilst building up another successful private teaching business and performing at concerts and weddings. Colette enjoys performing regularly with the amazing soprano, Rachel Nicholls and they are currently exploiting their range of coaching talents in workshops and masterclasses around the country.
Sadly, pressure of work and family commitments led Collete to withdraw from Vox8 during 2016.
Michael Longden (bass)
Michael moved to Bath to study his undergraduate course in Music – he graduated in 2013 with first class honours and the performance prize for the year. He sang in various ensembles including the university choir, chamber choir and on one occasion the Gamelan orchestra. While at the university he was privileged to take masterclasses with John Trelevan, Isobel Buchannan and John Shirley Quirke. He currently sings with the award winning chamber choir Noctis, and is preparing for postgraduate study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Solo credits include Vivaldi’s G Minor Magnificat (Bath Spa University Chamber Choir), Tippet’s Negro Spirituals, Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music, Handle’s Messiah and Orff’s Carmina Burana (Bath Spa University Choir), Purcell’s Come Ye Sons of Art (Corsham Choral Society), Fauré Requiem (The Bath Chorus), and Allegri’s Miserere (Organum and Vox8).
Opera credits include Grimbald – Purcell’s King Arthur, Papageno – Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Polyphemus – Handle’s Acis and Galatea and Spinellocio and Il Notaio – Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi for Bath Spa University, and The Doctor, The Comissioner, The Charlatan, Celeste and Tarrare – Wattle and Daub Figure Theatre’s The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak.
Michael has now moved on to postgraduate studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Alex White (baritone)
Alex joined us in Autumn 2014, replacing Michael Longden.
He is now concentrating on his vocal studies in preparation for music college, and developing his tenor voice.
Simon Francis (bass)
Simon joined us in the Autumn 2015 season, but has now decided to pursue other musical interests.