Musical Director

Jonathan Rathbone

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Jonathan Rathbone

Jonathan was a chorister at Coventry Cathedral and later a choral scholar at Christ’s College Cambridge, where he read mathematics. He then studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he specialised in singing and composition, winning prizes in choral, conducting and orchestration. Jonathan joined the Swingle Singers in 1984 and was musical director for eight of the twelve years he sang with them. During that time he created the majority of their arrangements.

He has worked with many of the world’s leading musicians and orchestras, both classical and commercial; these include the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Pierre Boulez and the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Luciano Berio. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, New York, with jazz great Stéphane Grappelli and recorded backing vocals for Beatles producer George Martin and French pop star Etienne Daho.

He left the Swingle Singers in 1996 in order to spend more time writing, arranging and orchestrating. He is in constant demand as a choir trainer, works with vocal ensembles all over Europe and adjudicates choral competitions. Closer to home he directs choirs in North London and is musical director at St Mary’s Church Walthamstow.  He spent a week in Bergen conducting the the Edvard Grieg Kor (a professional eight-voice group). The concert was at Troldhaugen in the grounds of Grieg’s House, and overlooking the summer house where Grieg wrote his music. The concert featured an entire programme of Jonathan’s arrangements, including several a cappella versions of Grieg’s orchestral works and songs. The concert was the choir’s first sell-out and Jonathan was immediately invited back the next year!

In 2013, Jonathan was awarded an ARAM (Associate of the Royal Academy of Music), an award made “to former students of the Academy who have made a notable contribution to the music profession”.

He is an in-house composer with the music publishers Peters Edition.  Christmas 2016 saw the publication of Carols for Concerts. Recent commissions include a setting of the Advent words Drop Down Ye Heavens for Canto Deo – a choir in America. Jonathan is becoming busier as an orchestrator.  In November 2017 he wrote four arrangements for the Philharmonie Süfwestfalen (a German orchestra).  Earlier in 2017, he re-orchestrated Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem for Stephen Cleobury and the choir of King’s College Cambridge.

He currently conducts four choirs in London and is musical director at his local church, St Mary’s Walthamstow. He teaches harmony and aural skills at Middlesex University.

He continues to write, arrange and orchestrate for a wide range of groups. At present, he writes and records all the jingles for the popular podcast Where there’s a Will, there’s a Wake starring Kathy Burke.