A life in music

Dr Peter Giles, countertenor, voice-production teacher, choral consultant and director and solo speaker, is an internationally-known authority on the countertenor and the pre-1840 male high voice. His doctorate in 2000 is thought to be the first PhD attained solely through research and work on the subject.

Choral background

He was a boy chorister in a traditional all-male choir in London, where he studied piano and organ with Leslie Pearson and, for a time, singing with Alfred Heath. This was followed by a number of years’ intensive work on singing and vocal production with the countertenor John Whitworth, specialising in early-music repertoire.

Cathedral years

After semi-professional singing experience in London Peter Giles developed a notable career at three of England’s greatest cathedrals.

Appointed first as an alto lay-clerk in the choir at Ely, he held this post for four years before moving to Lichfield, where he was appointed a lay-vicar choral (an historical musical, not ordained, position). Three years later he was appointed a lay-clerk at Canterbury.  Here he sang for the rest of his cathedral career, holding the position of Senior Lay-Clerk from 1978 till 1994.

Concerts, recordings and media work

Now retired from the concert platform, he has sung as a soloist throughout the United Kingdom and abroad, in oratorio and similar concert works, recitals, early-music performance and festivals. He has appeared on radio and television as a lecturer and solo singer here and abroad, especially in the United States and Canada. Televison appearances have included Tony Robinson’s TV series ‘The Worst Jobs in History’, talking about the castrati.

He has performed nationally, internationally and extensively with the male-voice trio Canterbury Clerkes, with whom he often broadcasted on radio and television and also made several commercial recordings. In 2000 he started the mixed-voice quintet Quodlibet (full name Quodlibet of Canterbury), with which he has made three CDs so far.

He has been organist and choirmaster at a number of parish churches and directs other choirs and ensembles from time to time.

Voice training work

For some years in the 1980s Peter Giles studied White’s Technique voice production with Arthur Hewlett and qualified as a Registered Teacher. He is now one of the country’s leading practitioners and teachers of the technique, which enables speakers, singers and all voice users to develop their potential uniquely without strain on the vocal folds. For information on White’s Technique tuition, to enquire about Quodlibet or to ask about any of Peter Giles’ publications or recordings, click here.

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