EX CATHEDRA | Jeremy Burrows - Bass

From our Christmas Music by Candlelight programme 2023

Jeremy grew up in a musical home in North London until he broke one window too many playing cricket in the garden.  His long-suffering parents resolved the problem by sending him to St Paul’s Cathedral as a chorister. He was later a choral scholar at New College, Oxford whilst studying for a degree in chemistry. He freelanced as a countertenor for a few years and was a lay clerk at St Albans Abbey, singing once again under Barry Rose’s inspiring direction.  He sang with groups such as Ex Cathedra, Polyphony, The Finzi Singers and I Fagiolini as well as undertaking much chorus work for baroque ensembles.

The security of teaching tempted Jeremy away from freelancing and he was Head of Chemistry and then Head of Science during a 25-year stint at The Perse School, Cambridge. Family and teaching commitments took priority during this time although he has greatly enjoyed ‘depping’ at Ely Cathedral for twenty years; he moved to singing bass a few years ago.  He greatly enjoys directing Tapestry, a chamber choir based in Cambridgeshire.  Singing is now his main focus, and he hugely enjoys working with some superb musical directors and so many wonderful singers.

1. How long have you been a member of Ex Cathedra and why did you join?

I first joined Ex Cathedra in 1991. Nigel Short kindly suggested to Jeffrey that I join him on the alto line in the Consort and I hugely enjoyed singing regularly for three or four years. Fond memories include Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Stravinsky’s Les Noces in Symphony Hall and many concerts of French Baroque music, as well as some inspiring educational workshops. I am extremely grateful to Jeffrey for having me back after so long (and on a different voice part) and must thank Ex Cathedrans Andrew Round and Imogen Russell for encouraging me to get back in touch. 

2. What does a typical day look like for you?

I am greatly enjoying the lack of a typical day since I stopped teaching! Most days still start with coffee, and I try to run a few times a week. Most afternoons involve preparing music and singing in one choir or another. If I have a free day I try to get out for a long walk with friends, the route always seems to pass a pub or two.

3. If you could choose to perform again any piece that you have performed before with Ex Cathedra, what would it be, and why?

I’ll go for Charpentier’s Te Deum. I was lucky enough to learn something of French Baroque performance practice from Edward Higginbottom whilst at Oxford and it was a privilege to sing similar music for Jeffrey. The opening prelude of the Te Deum made me fall in love with the trumpet as a young boy, and I have fond memories of singing the haute-contre solos under Jeffrey at St John’s Smith Square.

4. What’s your musical ‘guilty secret’?

I love many types of music, one unusual – but not guilty – thing is that the first single I bought was by Ian Dury and The Blockheads. One of my fellow choristers at St Paul’s used to play their songs – with highly risqué lyrics which I won’t share here – as loudly as possible, just as our parents were dropping us off at school, much to our amusement! Perhaps my guilty secret is somewhat linked: I used to get the giggles occasionally in church services, I’ve nearly grown out of that now.