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Our Honorary Patrons

This is Caritas’ fifth year and we are excited to have two very distinguished gentlemen as our first Honorary Patrons.

Stephen Portman is himself a pupil of the legendary conductor George Szell. Since Benedict decided to pursue a career in conducting five years ago he has been mentored by Stephen. At the choir’s latest concert in SS Mary & Eanswythe in Folkestone, Stephen conducted the choir in a new work composed by Benedict for double choir and French Horn, with Benedict playing the solo horn – an echo of Stephen’s first ever concert in the UK, where he conducted a work for horn and choir.

The Right Reverend Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, has known Benedict for many years – since he started singing in Canterbury Cathedral choir as a small boy – and where he still sings as a deputy lay clerk. He frequently presides over Evensong when Caritas is singing and has always been very complimentary as he has watched the choir develop into an accomplished group with an enviable reputation.

© Caritas 2016

Our history

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The choir was founded in 2011 by Music Director, Benedict Preece. The name of the choir was inspired by the Latin word for charity, ‘Caritas’, and the group has maintained a charitable ethos since its formation, raising thousands of pounds for various charities, good causes and churches.

Members are drawn from around East Kent and feature both professional singers and advanced non-professional singers. The ensemble has become an important part of the cultural landscape of Canterbury. In 2016 the choir gave 13 concerts and sang 25 cathedral services.

Canterbury Cathedral dominates the city and it’s a great privilege to be invited to support their worship so often. In 2016, the Right Reverend Dr. Robert Willis agreed to be an Honorary Patron of the choir.

Stephen Portman, a retired International Conductor and mentor to our Music Director, is our other Honorary Patron. He studied with the esteemed George Szell and Pierre Monteux and it’s a wonderful privilege for the choir to have Stephen’s continuing support of our activities.

Another exciting feature about Caritas is our international collaborations. We enjoy a wonderful relationship with Haga Motettkör (Sweden), Cantica Sacra (Netherlands), Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers (USA), Lille Cathedral (France) and are looking forward to collaborating with Corps d’Espirit Kammerkor Rotterdam (Netherlands) this year also. In October the choir has been invited to sing at the Inauguration of an Art Exhibition featuring William Morris at the Juan March Foundation, Madrid.

2017 is an exciting year for the choir not only for the international collaborations listed above but also for the inaugural Young Composer Competition, where we welcomed David Conte to judge a number of short listed compositions in July. The winner was Sarah Cattley’s The Pardoner’s Tale.

The choir in just seven years has performed hundreds of works. Recent new works by Ola Gjeilo, Mikael Carlsson, Patrick O’Shea, David Conte, René Clausen and Benedict Preece have been well received by audiences.

There are many exciting projects being planned for this year, one of which is a professional recording that will feature works written especially for the choir and also those that the choir have enjoyed singing.

S Portman R Willis  
Stephen Portman The Right Reverend Robert Willis