Starting his career as a treble with Birmingham Parish Church Choir, John trained at Trinity College of Music, studying organ, singing, piano, harpsichord and conducting. He won the Choral Conducting prize and was Senior Student at the College. He has performed widely as tenor soloist, organist and as conductor at Cathedrals in the UK and on the Continent and broadcast both on radio and television.
John is Director of Music at Ashville College. He has been conductor of Ripon Choral Society since 1997 and has led the Society through a wide range of choral works from the 17th to 20th centuries. He is also conductor of the Wetherby Choral Society and the St Oswald Singers and has been deputy and guest conductor with the Sheffield Bach Society and the Harrogate Philharmonic Orchestra.
John Dunford's vision:
Above all else I hope I bring enthusiasm and enjoyment to the membership of any choir. From the sheer size of the choir it would seem that Ripon is a successful choral society, but it is important to look to the future and consider strategies that will continue this success.
The balance of repertoire is important, familiar and unfamiliar. The familiar will engender confidence in performance and attract a large audience. The less familiar is a challenge. A challenge for me to teach, for the choir to learn, and for the audience to experience. As I explore the rich repertoire of choral music I continue to develop as a musician and a conductor and it is in the larger 19 th and 20 th century pieces that we can have the greatest opportunity to broaden our horizons and experience greater emotional response through performance.
Such large repertoire requires big orchestras, operatic solo voices and therefore considerable expense. The challenge for the committee and choir is to look for ways to support these ventures. Generous sponsorship has benefitted the choir in recent years and we would be pleased to hear from anyone in the choir or audience who might wish to sponsor a future concert.
Our modern lifestyle rarely gives us time for personal reflection. Music provides so much and yet seems grossly undervalued by our modern, scientifically directed lives. Gone are the days when the village organist was also the music teacher at the local school, with many children finding themselves in the Church Choir. School music has pandered to popular tastes and values less the disciplines and close study of music that is timeless and truly classic. The diet of our Choral Society seems further removed from the musical tastes we are cultivating in the children of today, who are the choir members of tomorrow.
We must strive to bring in new singers to the choir; to reach out to the under 40's for whom our activities may seem remote. Our greatest challenge is to buck the trend by performing great music to the best of our ability, broadening our contact with the community and to educate, involve and make appealing the great experiences we have in the performance of the choral music we love and value so much.