MSMPortraitRG-2-200x300Manchester University Chorus are delighted to announce that from January 2017, our principal conductor will be Robert Guy.

Robert is Artistic Director of the award winning NEW Sinfonia, Choral Conductor and Tutor in Choral Conducting at the University of Manchester, and Tutor in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Huddersfield. In October, Robert conducted the Manchester Camerata working with Tine Thing Helseth and also conducted a commercial recording for Playstation with the Manchester Camerata.

The NEW Sinfonia have been appointed as Orchestra in Residence at the ‘North Wales International Music Festival’. As part of this year’s residency Robert conducted the World Premiere of Paul Mealor’s Symphony No.2 and worked with renowned violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen.

In 2016, Robert was invited to be Conductor in Residence at the ‘Inspire Arts Festival’ held in Jeju, South Korea. He was also invited to conduct the Manchester Camerata as part of the ‘International Conducting Masterclass’ at the RNCM and chosen to work with the Schleswig-Holstein Chamber Choir in Lübeck, working with Simon Halsey and Nicholas Fink. Last year, he conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as part of the ‘St Magnus International Festival’, working with Sian Edwards and Charles Peebles.

Other notable career highlights include conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker Ensemble at the ‘Conductors Lab’ in Aix-en-Provence and making his debut at St David’s Hall Cardiff, working with Allen Vizzutti in the gala concert of the ‘Arcomis International Brass Festival’. Robert was also invited to conduct at the ‘International Masterclasses Berlin’ where he worked with Michail Jurowski and the Berlin Sinfonietta. He has acted as Assistant Conductor to the Britten Pears Orchestra with Kirill Karabits.

Robert is a passionate leader and active educator. He is Principal Conductor to the Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestra of Square Chapel in Halifax. As a leading Choral Conductor he directed the Huddersfield Choral Society in a concert performance of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. He holds the MMus and FRSM qualifications having studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester.

Student conductors

Rory JohnstonRory Wainwright Johnston (b.1993) is a conductor, composer, tenor and pianist from Bradford-on-Avon near Bath. Rory read Music at the University of Manchester, graduating in 2016 with a first class honours degree. He is staying on at the University to work towards a MusM Masters degree in Instrumental Composition with Camden Reeves.

During his time at as an undergraduate, Rory was heavily involved with the Music Society, conducting both the choirs and the orchestras for his second and third years, culminating in a performance of Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament for Choir and String Orchestra. In his final year he was appointed the musical director of the University’s Chamber Choir, Ad Solem, enjoying a successful year of concerts and recordings.  As a pianist and tenor, Rory has performed in many capacities. A treble in the Bath Abbey Choir from 2003-2008, his last two as head chorister, he re-joined the choir as a tenor in 2011, going on to sing in live broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and 4, as well as on the choirs CD recordings. Rory studied piano with internationally renowned harpsichordist Sophie Yates from 2003-2013, with whom he studied for his dipABRSM piano diploma. Under her tutelage Rory twice participated in piano masterclasses with Joanna MacGregor. Whilst at University, Rory studied piano for two years with Richard Casey, before focussing on conducting under the mentorship of Justin Doyle and Mark Heron.

Currently, Rory is the musical director of Cantores Olicanae, The Brixi Singers, as well as continuing to support the University Music Society as a choral conductor whilst completing his Masters Degree. He is also the founder and Musical Director of the Manchester Renaissance Ensemble, a choir and pool of instrumentalists focussed on the performance of early music.

James HeathcoteJames Heathcote is a third year student on the prestigious ‘Joint Course’ at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studies cello with the head of strings, Chris Hoyle. Before going to University, James was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for two years. He has great experience in chamber music and is a member of Quatuor Rankin and the Mathias piano trio which, in May 2015, represented the RNCM at an intercollegiate competition in London. Having been successful in auditioning for a concerto at Manchester University, he will perform the Britten Cello Symphony there in March 2017.

James has conducted a wide-ranging corpus of repertoire, including Ligeti’s Atmospheres and his own arrangement of Tallis’ Spem in Alium which he recently recorded for Classic FM. He has been a student conductor of the instrumental ensembles at Manchester University since September 2015, and is currently studying with Mark Heron. Since September 2016 he has also been a student conductor of the university choirs. In February 2017, James will be the musical director for the annual Manchester University Music Society opera, Holst’s Sāvitri.


Tomos Gwyn is a third year music student in the University of Manchester, where he primarily studies choral conducting and electroacoustic composition.

Away from University, Tomos is a member of the National Youth Choir of Wales, and has been since 2012. He won the prestigious ‘Chorister of the Year’ award in 2014, and has been a vital part of the choir since joining. He also formed a chamber choir which includes past and present members of the larger National choir, and directed them to competing in the international music festival final of the Youth Choir competition in Llangollen in July 2016.

Tomos studied piano in his first and second year of University under Tom Scott, playing pieces by composers such as Gershwin, Rachmaninov and Chopin. He also plays the French Horn, studying under Richard Bourn of the Halle, and has been part of the North Wales Youth Orchestra since 2012, playing works such as Mahler Symphony No. 1, Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 and most recently Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2. He is currently enjoying his time as a choral conductor and is hoping to end up in a career as one.

Matthew QuinnMatthew Quinn is 19 and hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is currently studying Music at the University of Manchester, having received unconditional offers to study voice at the Royal Northern College of Music and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and aims to pursue vocal performance and musical direction/conducting as a career. Matthew’s passion for conducting started two years ago when he founded his own chamber choir, Lux, based in Belfast, with the intention of providing a platform for passionate singers in Northern Ireland to explore exciting and challenging repertoire in an extremely close and exposed environment. They have gone on to produce numerous extremely successful concerts across Northern Ireland in venues such as St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast and St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. Other conducting experience includes having conducted St Peter’s Cathedral Choir in Belfast and the Mydel Choir in Macclesfield.

Aside from conducting, Matthew is a keen tenor and performance credits include being a finalist in the Bank of Ireland Catherine Judge Memorial Award 2015, tenor soloist in works such as Handel’s Messiah, Vaughan William’s Mass in G Minor and Mozart’s Coronation Mass with choirs such as the Ulster Youth Choir and St Peter’s Cathedral Choir and performing both Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ (2014) and Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ (2015) in the BBC Proms with the BBC Proms Youth Choir. He also has a passion for Opera and this year made his professional debut as the role of the ‘Typesetter’ in the premiere of ‘Mysterious 44’ by Kevin Malone

Abi KitchingAbi Kitching is a third year studying Music at Manchester University and is this year’s Musical Director for Ad Solem, the university chamber choir. Before coming to Manchester, she grew up across the Pennines in Sheffield, singing regularly in festivals and at school, where she led the accapella choir in her final year. Frequent successful solo performances in competitions led to her participate in a masterclass given by Mark Widman, the head of Vocal Studies at the Royal Academy of Music. During this time she was part of the National Youth Training Choir with whom she sang in prestigious concert venues around the country, including the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican Centre, before moving to main choir. At university she has sung regularly with both Cosmo and Ad Solem.

She currently works for Streetwise Opera, a charity which teaches opera and musicals to homeless and vulnerable adults, and recently performed in their adaptation of the St Matthew Passion,The Passion, alongside The Sixteen Singers, aired on BBC4. Last year she was part of the university opera Castor and Pollux, and this year, along with three other students, is setting up an opera society called ‘The Opera Shack’ which will be popping up around Manchester shortly!

She hopes to progress to conservatoire to continue her vocal studies, and aims to continue finding work as a conductor and within the music based social development sphere.

Robin WallingtonRobin Wallington is a conductor/composer based in Manchester. As a conductor, Robin has worked with conductors such as Paavo Jarvi and Mark Stringer, as well as professional instrumentalists and ensembles up and down the UK. Recent highlights include a three-performance run of Singing in the Rain. As a composer, he has had works performed by ensembles such as the Quatuor Danel and the RLPO’s 10/10 ensemble. A keen interest in British early-20th century music has led him to have articles printed in publications such as the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Journal. Robin currently studies conducting with Mark Heron, and composition with Laura Bowler.