We get to know Daniel Hyde, Conductor and soon-to-be Director of Music for the Choir of King's College, Cambridge ahead of their Australian tour.
In just a matter of weeks, one of the world's most famous choirs, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge will embark on their first nationwide tour of Australia since 2014, however this time the lineup looks a little different. The prestigious choir will be led by British organist and choral conductor, Daniel Hyde, who as of this coming October will succeed Sir Stephen Cleobury as the Choir's Director of Music.
We spoke with Daniel Hyde in the lead up to their highly anticipated Australian tour about his musical background, taking the reins from Sir Stephen Cleobury, the conversation surrounding all-boys choirs and the newly commissioned work from Australia's own Ross Edwards.
Daniel, firstly huge congratulations on your appointment! We look forward to welcoming you to Australia.
Thank you! I am very much looking forward to returning to Australia - it’s a country of which I am very fond!
I believe you’ve been here with the Choir before in the position of organ scholar. Tell us about your early years at King’s.
Yes, that’s right. I was an organ scholar at King’s almost twenty years ago, and during my time we toured to Australia in 2001. Before going to King’s I was Assistant Organist at St George’s Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia, so I know the place well and have good friends there. At King’s I immersed myself in the life of the choir and chapel, relishing all the opportunities to perform and sometimes conduct in the absence of the director of music. More widely in the University, I very much enjoyed all the opportunities that Cambridge had to offer in conducting, playing and performing with many like-minded fellow students across the University.
How does it feel to be returning as Director of Music?
It’s a daunting prospect to be taking over from Stephen Cleobury, and I am very aware of the tradition that is being entrusted to me. I hope to prove myself as a worthy steward and guardian of this amazing institution.
How does your experience with the Choir inform your leadership style?
One of the great privileges of working in a place such as King’s is that one works with young, energetic and very talented students. It’s a responsibility to take seriously when shaping the minds and talents of both the boys and adults of the choir. It’s my job to lead by example, upholding the highest possible standards and encouraging all my students to make the very best of their time with us.
What is it about this choir that makes it so remarkable? Is it the tradition, the training, the people, or something else entirely?
There are many choirs that are similar to King’s College Choir. In my mind, what makes King’s so special is that unique combination of Choir and building; the Chapel is an amazing place to work and it never becomes a space that one takes for granted. To work in there day by day is a privilege - who wouldn’t want to be in there given half the chance?
I’d be interested to hear about your experiences at St Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York. What are the similarities/differences in the church music ‘scene’ in the US as opposed to the UK and the rest of the world?
The tradition at Saint Thomas is based very closely on the English model found at King’s, Westminster Abbey and other places. However, Saint Thomas is in turn very much an American version of that model, serving a broad and diverse community of people who come from far and wide to be a part of the congregation on Fifth Avenue. I think the American church music scene is thriving - it’s such a varied and well-resourced product in the USA, and the shape, size and sound of church music programs reflect a wonderfully eclectic and flourishing tradition.
In the past, you’ve criticised the ‘polite’ tradition of English choral music. Describe the ideal ‘Daniel Hyde’ sound.
I haven’t so much criticized as I have questioned the ‘polite’ sound of English choral music. For me, the ideal sound is one that is rich in colour and quality; it’s one that is the product of a healthy and free technique.