GCU members all recognize just how lucky we are to have an incredibly talented accompanist like Steve Jones. Steve has been supporting us in our rehearsals since 1977, working with our conductor Brian Wright for the whole of that time.
Music played a very large part in Steve’s life right from the start. His parents loved music of all kinds and it was played constantly at home; one uncle was a fine baritone, another a fine tenor. As a very small child he used to wander about the house singing and harmonizing with any music he heard, and soon started piano lessons. Having won his first piano competition at the age of 7, life revolved around music practice, exams and competitions on the local circuit. He knew from an early age he wanted to become a musician. He sang at school, a particular highlight being the role of Captain Samuel Slug in ‘The pirates of Pilchard’s Point’, the Year 6 musical! At the Royal Liberty Grammar School Steve sang a great deal with the choir and Madrigal group, and was exposed to the great choral works including the Messiah, Christmas Oratorio and St John Passion. He also played the long-suffering pipe organ that graced the school hall.
Steve won a place at Trinity College of Music where his teacher was the brilliant concert pianist John Bingham who had, himself, studied at the Moscow Conservatoire. At the same time a great deal of singing ensued, and it was at this point that he moved from baritone to tenor, and began to perform as a soloist. On leaving the college he became a permanent member of the choir of St Peter’s Eaton Square, and was a deputy Vicar Choral at St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Two years of full-time teaching with performing in the evenings and at weekends was gruelling, but undaunted, he also started to accompany choirs including the Natwest Bank Choir and the English Baroque Choir both as pianist and continuo player. When the opportunity arose, Steve became accompanist for BBC Schools Radio, for whom he also became a script writer and presenter, by now having relinquished some of his teaching work.
Since joining GCU, Steve has started his own choir, the multi-award winning City Chamber Choir, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2017. In 1994 Steve became Musical Director of the Aeolian Singers, one of Hertfordshire’s longest established choral societies. Around this time he became a Choral Animateur, working throughout the UK with groups of children, sometimes several hundred at a time, many of whom had not been exposed to music before, to rehearse and put on productions. He was a pioneer in undertaking this kind of work which has, of course, now been made famous by the likes of Gareth Malone.
Steve continues to be a busy musician and singing teacher, and has recently added the post of Director of Music at his local church to his hectic schedule, allowing him to fulfill a long held ambition.