Amici origins and aims...

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Amici Cantate is a Bishop's Stortford-based choir originally made up of parents and friends of students in the renowned Cantate youth choir. It was formed in 2005 by Cantate Founder Director Michael Kibblewhite at the request of many music-loving parents who wanted to come together for occasional rehearsals and sing together in the Cantate spirit. It has grown in size to around 70 voices: entry is open to all, and rehearsals take place in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, on Saturday mornings in an atmosphere of friendliness and fun.

Their Music Director is James Davey and their accompanists are Michael Smith and Toby Heath. The choir is well known for its broad, eclectic repertoire, spanning several centuries and from all parts of the world.

They have toured Spain, singing in the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostella, Italy, including an appearance in St. Mark's Venice and a joint concert with the Coro Santa Maria Maddelena in Desanzano, and Belgium, singing in Brussels, Blankenburge and at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. In November 2010 Amici Cantate performed at the St. Andrew's Festival in Scotland. Amici Cantate normally performs 3-4 concerts a year, often on behalf of local charities, and aims to alternate between a workshop to extend their members' musical talent and a foreign tour every year.

Amici Musical Director...

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James Davey

James is the Musical Director of Amici Cantate. James began his musical career as a chorister and brass player, gaining a place at the Birmingham Conservatoire to study trumpet and cornet, where, during his final year, he formed his first choir. This first experience of conducting, inspired by singing with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and the critically acclaimed Laudibus (National Youth Chamber Choir), marked a significant turning point and James was allowed to adapt his BMus degree course to reflect this change in direction, even though no official courses in Choral Conducting were available from the Conservatoire at the time.

A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire and Roehampton University, where he gained his MA in Choral Education, James studied conducting with the Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) and under many eminent choral figures, including; Mike Brewer, Peter Broadbent, Therees Hibbard, Paul Spicer, Ralph Allwood and Bob Chilcott.

James has also held posts as Choral Conductor for the Royal College of Music Junior Department and Junior Trinity College of Music, and has been a Guest Conductor for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and the Ingenium Academy.

Formerly the chief choral advisor for the BBC's sheet music archive, James has delivered projects for the BBC Singers Education Department as workshop leader and mentor, as well as regularly conducting and preparing choirs for broadcasts on TV and radio. He has worked in music education with young choirs, and on CPD projects around the UK and abroad, including work on schools projects with Sing-Up, the Voices Foundation, ARK Schools and many local Music Services and Hubs. He was also Chief Music Consultant and Workshop Leader for the Music of Life Foundation, a charity providing opportunities for talented special needs children to learn and perform at an advanced level.

Amici Accompanists...

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith was educated in Enfield and was a chorister at Enfield Parish Church, where he studied the organ with Eric Pask. He took a music degree at the Royal College of Music where the late Nicholas Danby was his organ tutor. It was whilst at the college he also took a piano accompaniment course with Robert Sutherland. Michael was Director of Music at Ware Parish Church for twenty years. He is currently Director of Music for three churches which make up the United Benefice of Standon and The Mundens with Sacombe. He leads the all aspects of the churches' musical outreach. He is an Associate of the Royal College of Organists and the Royal College of Music. Michael is a former primary school Headteacher, now working as a freelance musician and educator.

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Toby Heath

Toby has a degree in music from the University of Cambridge, where among other specialisms he studied Conducting and Rehearsal Techniques and Piano Performance under some of the country's pre-eminent musicians. He has worked as a repetiteur for numerous theatrical and operatic performances in Cambridge, and as a director and accompanist for the Homerton College Choir and Herts and Soul Community Choir. Since graduating, Toby has worked as an Early Years music specialist, a high school music teacher, a piano and flute teacher, and now as a primary school teacher in Much Hadham. "Helping people realise their full musical potential has always been a very rewarding experience for me".

Previous Amici Musical Directors...

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John Tripp

A Cantate parent himself, he worked with Michael Kibblewhite as assistant director for two years before taking over the helm in 2011 and 'retiring' in 2018. John is well known in Hertfordshire as a baritone soloist, chorister, pianist and performer, and has directed a number of groups including Imperial College Operatic Society, Imperial Opera, Ware Operatic Society, the Morgan Stanley Singers, recently establishing the Canary Wharf Choir in London Docklands.

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Michael Kibblewhite

Michael Kibblewhite who founded the choir in 2005 is one of the UK's best known choral directors. He was also Founder-Director of Cantate Youth Choir with whom he won many national and international competitions. He has also directed several other prestigious choirs including Cambridge Chorale, English Festival Voices, Harlow Boy's Choir, Harlow Chorus, Hertfordshire Chorus, East London Chorus, King's Lynn Festival Chorus and Coro '94.

Amici on tour....

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2007 Santiago de Compostella, Spain

2008 Venice, Italy

2009 Bergamo, Italy

2010 Desanzano, Italy

2010 St. Andrews, Scotland

2011 Lake Garda, Italy

2012 Blankenberge, Belgium

2014 Dinard/Dinan, France

2016 Trier, Germany

2018 Dinard/Dinan, France

2020 TBD