George Vass music director
Described by BBC Radio 3 as ‘the saviour of contemporary classical music’, respected English conductor George Vass studied at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music, London and was appointed Music Director of St Albans Choral Society in 1994. Vass made his professional conducting debut at St John’s Smith Square in 1979 and, as Artistic Director of the Regent Sinfonia of London, Orchestra Nova and Nova Music Opera, has appeared at many of the UK’s major concert halls and festivals and has broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4 television.
Vass’ discography of over thirty recordings encompasses a wide variety of British music with groups including the Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National and Ulster orchestras, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Choir of Royal Holloway. He was appointed Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Presteigne Festival in 1992, and his legendary support for British contemporary composers and their music was rewarded in 2017 with a BASCA Gold Badge Award.
Augustina Kapoti assistant conductor
Athens-born Augustina has worked with a range of ensembles, orchestras and choirs in Athens, Birmingham, Boston, Graz, London and New York and also holds the post of Assistant Conductor with the Zemel Choir, the UK’s leading Jewish mixed-voice choir, with whom she recently shared conducting responsibilities on the recording of Benjamin Wolf’s oratorio Armistice.
After completing a Masters in orchestral and choral conducting at Bard Conservatory, New York and a further Masters in choral conducting at the University of Birmingham, she was engaged by the London Symphony Chorus to assist Simon Halsey for the UK premiere of Public Domain by David Lang at the Barbican Centre.
She was given two further accolades – being awarded a Special Commendation from the 2017 International Orchestral Conducting Masterclass in Graz and was also chosen from 50 conductors to perform at the final concert of the Conductors Institute at Bard College, New York in 2014. More recently, Augustina has been invited by Marin Alsop, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Sian Edwards to be part of conducting masterclasses organised variously by the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Richard James Harvey accompanist
Richard received his musical education at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied organ with Alan Harverson, and harmony and counterpoint with Dr Eric Thiman. While there he was awarded the Margaret and Sydney Lovett Prize for church organ accompaniment.
Richard has been accompanist to St Albans Choral Society for over twenty years, and to Finchley Choral Society for over thirty years. In April 2017 he marked his 40th anniversary as Director of Music at St John’s United Reformed Church, New Barnet.
As a composer he has written anthems, carols and musicals for his church, won prizes for his compositions and has been commissioned by choirs. Vespers (2013), commissioned by St Albans Choral Society, has also received performances by the Johannesburg Bach Choir in South Africa. The Martyrs’ Call, commissioned to celebrate the installation of the martyrs statues in St Albans Abbey, was premiered there in November 2019.