The Frideswide Voices are directed by Helen Smee, who works with a team of specialist tutors to provide weekly theory, singing and musicianship training for the choristers.
Helen is a freelance conductor, workshop leader, pianist and organist and works regularly with a broad range of choirs across the UK. She completed her MA at the Royal Academy of Music in Choral Conducting, studying with Patrick Russill. Having graduated in July 2013 with the Alan Kirby Prize, she held the Junior Fellowship of the Joyful Company of Singers until 2014, conducting the group in venues across London including St John's Smith Square. In November 2016, she was awarded the Licentiate of the Royal Academy (LRAM), specialising in teaching choral conducting. Helen has held positions with Highbury Youth Choir, Buckland and Betchworth Choral Society, and Highbury Opera Theatre. She has been an Assistant Conductor and workshop leader with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and was for 11 years Organist and Director of Music at St Mary Merton, SW19 where she trained the choir of boy and girl choristers. Helen is active as a freelance conductor, workshop leader, organist and accompanist across London and the south-east, and is the Artistic Director of the Voices of London Festival, a week-long festival of choral music held at St James' Sussex Gardens. In 2018 she won the Members’ Award from Action for Children’s Arts in recognition of her outreach work with young people, and was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2022.
She took up the post of Director of Frideswide Voices in September 2019.
Sarah Coatsworth is a musician, teacher and editor. After graduating from Selwyn College, Cambridge, she completed a PGCE in Durham and spent eight years leading music departments in secondary schools in London and West Sussex before moving back to her home city of Oxford. She now combines a busy private piano teaching practice with freelance editorial work.
As an alto specialising in early music, Sarah has made several recordings of sacred sixteenth-century choral polyphony for Hyperion with the Brabant Ensemble, and now sings regularly at the church of St Mary Magdalen in Oxford. In her spare time, she enjoys playing chamber music (viola and viol), coastal walking and playing squash.
Sarah is a keen supporter of choral opportunities for girls, and has been involved with Frideswide Voices from the beginning, first as a volunteer and parent, and now teaching music theory to the choristers.
Helen Parker studied with a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. She has worked as a soloist for conductors Richard Hickox and Sir Simon Rattle, with various orchestras and ensembles including The City of London Sinfonia, Northern Sinfonia, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Academy of Ancient Music and groups such as The Tallis Scholars, The Gabrieli Consort, The English Concert and The King’s Consort. Helen runs team-building workshops and company singing ensembles in the corporate world and has been working with young voices for 18 years including currently teaching at New College School and Summer Fields Prep School. She is excited to be working with the girls at Frideswide Voices in this new period of their association at Christ Church.
Since graduating from University of Bristol with a degree in music, Laura has built parallel careers as a musician and arts administrator. She has toured Spain as a choral singer, Germany and the Netherlands with her viola in a band, taught business students the power of good leadership through conducting and frequently sings at more weddings and funerals in a week than Hugh Grant could manage in a whole movie.
When not working with Frideswide Voices, Laura can be found wrangling dinosaurs at Oxford’s Museum of Natural History, where she is Head of Operations.
Laura is passionate about young musicians having the opportunity to participate in high-quality choral singing and has been part of the Frideswide Voices team from the choir’s inception, working with the youngest girls (Year 3) to prepare them vocally, musically and pastorally for life as a chorister.
Harriet Burns is fast developing a reputation as a “polished, witty, expressive and sweet-toned” (The Times) performer both in recital and on stage. An acclaimed interpreter of song, Harriet has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Oxford Lieder and Leeds Lieder Festivals, International Lied Festival Zeist, Ryedale Festival and de Singel with pianists including James Baillieu, Imogen Cooper, Christopher Glynn, Graham Johnson, Sholto Kynoch, Malcolm Martineau, Joseph Middleton and Ian Tindale.
On the operatic stage, recent roles include Oriana (cover, Amadigi, Handel) and Sifare (cover, Mitridate, re di Ponto, Mozart) at Garsington Opera, King Harald's Saga (Judith Weir) for Waterperry Opera. With the Guildhall Opera, she has performed the roles of Sister Grace (The Angel Esmeralda, Lliam Paterson), Nerina (La Fedeltà premiata, Haydn), and Aminta (Aminta e Fillide, Handel).
Harriet is a laureate of numerous international competitions. Successes include 2nd prize and German Lied Award at the 2022 Concours Musical International de Montréal (Art Song division). In 2019, she was awarded 2nd prize at the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition, the Compulsory Song Prize and Recital Prize at the International Vocal Competition in 's-Hertogenbosch and 1st prize at the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards at the Wigmore Hall. She is proud to be a City Music Foundation Artist, Samling Artist, Oxford Lieder Young Artist and a Britten-Pears Young Artist. Harriet was a member of the Guildhall Opera School where she graduated with Distinction on the Artist Diploma programme.
Harriet is a member of staff in the Vocal Faculty at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she coaches English song and German Lieder, and has led projects for Voiceworks; Songs at Six including The Songs of Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Contemporary Collaborations. Harriet has also held a vocal residency at the Université de Montréal and McGill University and is proud to teach the girl choristers of Christ Church Cathedral, the Frideswide Voices.