Junior Choirs

Rachel Smith –Yellow Choir Conductor

Rachel is currently the Head of Junior Music at The Maynard School, Exeter. Prior to this appointment in 2016, she was the Assistant Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral School, during which time she founded the Devon County Junior Choir in 2007 which was followed, in 2012, by the formation of Schola Exe, the County Senior Choir. She continues to conduct both choirs today.

Rachel has been the MD of the Chivenor Military Ladies (formerly Wives) Choir since September 2012. In that capacity she has conducted the choir around the country, including at the Royal Albert Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral, Downing Street and Buxton Opera House. The choir has also performed at the Menin Gate, Ypres, at various sites around Normandy and in Spain. Rachel has also been the MD for the Lympstone Military Wives Choir since 2013.

When Rachel is not musically busy, she enjoys running, cycling, patchworking and spending time with her family and 4 cats!

Suzzie Vango – Blue Choir Conductor

Passionate about the arts and education, Suzzie’s high-energy vocal workshops have gained her an international reputation as a vocal leader, working with singers of all ages around the world. In demand as a chorus master, director and voice coach, in addition to her work with NCCGB Suzzie also conducts Polymnia, Orchestra of the Swan Chamber Choir, Ex Cathedra Girls Academy and has been a guest conductor for Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir, Manchester Chamber Choir and the CBSO Children’s Chorus.

An established soprano, she has performed and recorded with some of the UK’s finest choirs including Tenebrae, Polyphony, Ex Cathedra and The Eric Whitacre Singers. Suzzie directs the critically acclaimed female a cappella quintet Papagena who have featured on BBC Radio 3 In Tune and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, with their debut album, The Darkest Midnight reaching #6 in the UK Classical Charts.

Suzzie is Head of Vocal Studies at Bromsgrove School, Schools Programme Leader for Music of Life Foundation working with children with disabilities, choir leader for Workplace Choir Company, vocal coach for Schumacher College, Dartington and a vocal tutor for Ex Cathedra Education, regularly contributing her own compositions to their set of music education resources, “SingMaker”. International highlights include trips to the UAE, America, Uganda, Singapore, China, and Thailand. (photo by Anna Berry)

Stuart Overington – Green Choir Conductor

The Green Choir, led by Stuart Overington, offers a challenging programme of work for the most able members of the NCCGB Junior Choir.  The members must have a good sight reading ability, a keen ear and a well developed sense of choral discipline. A high level of focus is needed in their rehearsals, during which emphasis is placed on retaining their vocal technique and posture in order that the voice is not harmed by physical lack of strength and stamina.  An integral part of the choir’s training is discussion of the emotional content and the meaning of the words, in order to facilitate communication with the listener. It is also important that the members are able to work as a team, listening to each other and being aware of other parts, and the harmonic structure of the music. The pieces are often ‘a cappella’, and confidence is built as these are performed.  At times the Green and Senior Choirs perform together, and the tour choir is also built from these groups.


Senior Choir

Dan Ludford-Thomas – Senior / Tour Conductor and Musical Director

Dan enjoys a busy schedule as a conductor, chorus master and singing teacher in London. He directs a wide variety of choirs from professional ensembles, church choirs, chamber choirs and large symphonic choruses. He performs regularly in major concert venues across the country including Birmingham Symphony Hall and The Royal Albert Hall. In 2012 he conducted over 300 singers and the Forest Philharmonic in a performance of Handel’s Messiah in the Royal Festival Hall. In 2014 he conducted over 200 singers in a performance of Verdi’s Requiem in the Fairfield Halls, returning with the same forces to put on Mendelssohn’s Elijah in 2016. In 2017 he conducted over 300 Singers and the London Mozart Players in a performance of Bach’s B minor Mass at the Royal Festival Hall.

Dan was the Chorus Master for the Choir of the Enlightenment, preparing them to sing Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Marin Alsop at the 2013 BBC Proms. He returned as Chorus Master for Marin, preparing the Choir of the Enlightenment to perform Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody and Triumphlied at the 2015 BBC Proms. In 2018, Dan returned to assist Marin, preparing the Choir of the Enlightenment for 2 performances of Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with the OAE, the second of which took place at the Royal Festival Hall and was subsequently broadcast on Radio 3.

In 2012 Dan worked as a choirmaster on BBC2’s The Choir: Sing While You Work and then became the Artistic Director of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir enjoying success as the co-producer and musical director for the Choir’s 2015 Christmas Number One Bridge Over You. He returned in 2013 to work on BBC2’s The Choir: Sing While You Work series 2 as choirmaster to Citibank Choir, with whom he has continued as the Musical Director; highlights include performing at the Hammersmith Apollo and a series of concerts in New York. In 2015 Dan worked behind the scenes as choirmaster for The Choir: Gareth Malone’s Great Choir Reunion.

Dan is currently Head of Vocal Studies at Dulwich College, Musical Director of Concordia Chamber Choir, Musical Director of The Hackney Singers, and Director of Music of Lewisham Choral Society.

Dan joined the NCCGB staff in 2012, since when he has conducted both the Senior Choir and the Tour Choirs. In September 2018, Dan was delighted to take up the post of Musical Director of the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain