Janet Wheeler - Musical Director

The Granta Chorale


Janet Wheeler

Janet Wheeler is a freelance composer, choral conductor and teacher. A junior exhibitioner at the Guildhall School of Music from the age of 10, Janet went on to read music at Cambridge, where she studied composition with Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood. After running a secondary school music department, she became a music producer for BBC Schools Radio primary music for eight years.

Janet has conducted choirs of all sizes and singers of all ages, including the New Cambridge Singers, the Orpheus Choir of North Herts, Carillon and numerous choral societies. She also continues to work with several primary and secondary school orchestras and choirs, and enjoys arranging and composing music for them.

Her practical approach to choral training has evolved from a wealth of choral experience as both singer and conductor, together with trouble-shooting experience while recording choirs for the BBC and more recent training in Estill Voicecraft, courses with the Voices Foundation and individual singing tuition with Colin Baldy. She is a member of the Association of British Choral Directors.

Janet has maintained a long working relationship with Saffron Walden Choral Society as their Musical Director. During this time SWCS has developed into a much-admired chorus - giving exceptional performances of the standard choral works. Recent highlights have included the Monteverdi Vespers, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle and the Brahms Requiem. The choir also branches out regularly into more contemporary repertoire and a range of different singing styles.

As well as directing SWCS in choral and orchestral repertoire Janet also works with the choir to plan and direct large-scale community singing events, such as Wingbeats, a partnership project with RSPB and SWCS. For this she composed a cantata about the albatross On the Breath of the Sky with writer Nick Warburton, having previously collaborated with him on the cantata Train in the Rain and a children's musical Orpheus for BBC Schools Radio. Her largest work is the 40 minute choral and orchestral composition Sea Tongue, first performed in 2004 and repeated the following year in King's College Chapel, Cambridge. It sets a text by Kevin Crossley-Holland, telling the story of the disappearing village, old church and crumbling coastline of Dunwich.

In October 2007 Janet formed an adult chamber choir, Granta Chorale. She also directs several youth and children's choirs including SignuptoSing and the Chamber Choir at Saffron Walden County High School, where she also helps to run an annual Big Sing with local primary schools.

Janet's most recent compositions are two choral cycles The Joy as it Flies and Time Becomes a Song. The latter is a cycle of John Clare settings commissioned in part by OCR to celebrate the life and work of the poet. The work was given its first performance by the Granta Chorale in October 2009 and has received many subsequent performances.

Janet is currently completing the commission for a large-scale Magnificat. She is also composing a new work for combined choirs and the Britten Sinfonia for MazeMusic as part of the Music Nation project. The first performance will be on 3 March 2012.

To find out more about Janet Wheeler and to hear some of her music please click here.