Thame Choral Society welcomed Helen Swift as their Choral Director in September 2013. Helen started her singing career in Liverpool as a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain at the age of fourteen and had early success in the BBC Choir Girl of the Year competition. She then went on to win a choral scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge where she studied music, and then opera in London and Dublin. She now studies with Michelle Wegwart, artistic director of Magdala Opera in Nottingham.
Helen has performed in many of the major concert venues including St Paul’s Cathedral, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and Domplatz in Salzburg. Recent opera roles include Pamina in The Magic Flute with the Magdela Opera Group, Oberto in Alcina with Cambridge Handel Opera Group, and Susannah in Figaro.
Helen has worked with many distinguished artists, including Sir David Willcocks, Stephen Cleobury and John Rutter. She has appeared as a soloist on many CDs including Lesley Garrett’s album Travel into Light, Palestrina’s Missa Assumpta Est Maria, Tippett’s Negro Spirituals, and Motets of the Bach Family. Recently she has worked on a Max Richter film score and a DVD for comedian Lee Evans.
In addition to Thame Choral Society, Helen is also the musical director of Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir (Helen is half Welsh herself), Towcester Choral Society and the Singing for Pleasure Choir in London, and teaches singing at Rugby School.
She is in great demand as a vocal coach and arranger, and holds workshops both for children and adults. Outside her musical world Helen loves travel and enjoys sport from marathon running to salsa dancing and running around after her two young children.
Rowena Gibbons - Répétiteur
Rowena Gibbons joined Thame Choral Society as répétiteur in September 2013, together with Choral Director Helen Swift and, as well as accompanying the choir at our practices, shares some of the training duties when the choir is split into sections.
After studying oboe (primarily) and piano at Chetham's School of Music, Manchester, Rowena discovered that her great love is accompanying other performers. Curently she is also accompanist to Towcester Choral Society and Aylesbury Festival Choir and in autumn 2021 took up her first post as Musical Director for Flitwick Singers. Yearly she organises a choral concert as part of the Ulverston International Music Festival in Cumbria and on her home turf teaches and plays for the majority of Associated Board and Trinity exams for Milton Keynes Music Service. Rowena has two grown-up daughters and lives in Bletchley although, having lived in Princes Risborough, has strong contacts within the Thame area where she works several times a week.