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The London Quartet
Cantabile - The London Quartet
William Purefoy - Counter-Tenor
Christopher O'Gorman - Tenor
Mark Fleming - Tenor
Michael Steffan - Baritone
> Cantabile Past
Cantabile - The London Quartet


Stewart Collins
Now Artistic Director of
Henley Festival »

Richard Bryan - Counter-Tenor
Steven Brooks - Tenor
Sarah-Ann Cromwell - Soprano

London Vocal Group
Cantabile Past - 2

. . . / continued

First of all, of course, had been Stevie Dunstan, the ill-fated - or as he may well see it, feted counter-tenor. Next came Chris Henderson, a high-flying graduate microbiologist at the time, who sang the low voice during the eight months or so Mike spent in Montpellier supposedly studying French. Spookily, Chris, having spent time in Paris at the illustrious Institut Pasteur, now runs his own research institute - in Montpellier. Once Mike was safely back in college, the main absentee was Bob, whose commitments at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art meant that he had to miss the occasional gig. On these occasions his place was almost always taken by John Allison - who also became an academic in France. 'Almost' always, because for one unique performance, neither Mike could make it - so Chris was called back up - nor Bob, whose stand-in this time was Simon Halsey. Simon went on, amongst other things, to assist Simon Rattle in Birmingham (and will soon do so also in Berlin), became Artistic Director of the Salisbury Festival, and could be seen waving a baton at the massed choirs at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney. He also, quite coincidentally, conducted the orchestra on Encore, the series Cantabile made for S4C in the nineties.

Bob duly completed his course, after which the main problems of availability were provided by Nick, who was by then the only one still studying: completing his house jobs as a junior doctor. These were not as bad as they might have been; while most medical students were working a 'one in two' shift system - making them unavailable for one in every two days, Nick had somehow landed himself a 'two and eleven'. Nobody else has ever heard of such a thing, and it's a mystery to us still - but we were very grateful for it at the time. Nevertheless, he still missed a few of our by now increasing number of performances. His place was taken both by Mark Padmore - now a celebrated international tenor (associated in particular with William Christie's Les Arts Florissants ) - and Andrew O'Neill (of the O'Neill singing dynasty - his sisters Doreen and Patricia then both professionals, and brother Dennis still a mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Dennis was also to appear as a guest on our Encore series.) Andrew even sang with us on TV - a programme from Granada in Manchester to trail the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. He then went off to the Vatican to become the Pope's advisor on the Welsh Language, then returned to Wales as Commissioning Editor for Music for S4C...

In February 1982 - almost five years to the day since the proto-Cantabile had first performed together (on Rag Day during the rehearsal period for Charlotte's Hotel) - Bob, Nick, Stew and Mike took the plunge and decided to give up all else in the hope of allowing Cantabile to flourish. Between then and Nick's departure at the very beginning of 1987, no work or studies interfered with the line-up of the group. However, during the run of Blondel (three hundred and ninety-nine performances), the quartet was understudied by two - yes, two - other members of he cast. We have always been quite bewildered at how Patrick Long (top two voices) and David Alder (bottom!) managed not only to learn two parts simultaneously (and by ear, in the main!), but also to retain them and be able to sing either at the drop of a hat. One by one, each of the lads succumbed to some 'lergy or other, which offered them the bizarre opportunity of sitting in the Aldwych Theatre - watching Cantabile!

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Rag Day 1977
Rag Day 1977
Morgan Crowley Bill Purefoy
Morgan Crowley Bill Purefoy
Stewart  Collins Paul Hull
Stewart Collins Paul Hull
Steve Trowell Jeremy Budd
Steve Trowell Jeremy Budd
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