Soprano Paula Downes, Founder and Director of The Cantabrigians has been described as 'excellent' by the Boston Globe, and has been praised for her 'fine upper register' by Opera News; for 'the cool beauty of her voice' and 'affectingly plangent tone' by the Birmingham Post; and for her 'immaculate intonation' by the Nordsee-Zeitung, Germany. She was a Choral Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has since sung with The Sixteen and Philharmonia Voices, and as a soloist in halls such as St John's, Smith Square, London; Jordan Hall, Boston (USA); King’s Chapel and West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge; the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham; La Madeleine, Paris; and St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. She has given recitals in venues including the National Portrait Gallery, London, Harvard University, Peterborough Cathedral, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and the Holborn Museum, Bath.  A performer of repertoire of all eras, she recently recorded a new work, 'Torrid Nature Scene' by Nicholas Vines for Navona Records, which was released in May 2013. In 2008 Paula embarked on a long-term project of combining film images and animations with songs by her father, Andrew Downes.  Songs from Spoon was showcased at the 2014 American Online Film Awards, and was voted for by the public as one of the top ten films of the foreign music video category before being chosen as one of three nominees. The films can be seen at An experienced teacher, Paula has taught singing at Bristol University, and music and singing at top private schools including St John's College School, Cambridge. She has created the Music Education resources website,

Soprano Charlotte Ives graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA (Hons) in Music. She continued her vocal studies with Jane Highfield (Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and took a PGCE in Music and a PG Cert. in Opera at the University of London. Recent solo repertoire includes Haydn’s Creation, Nelson Mass and Missa Sancti Nicolai, Mozart’s Requiem, Dvorak’s Te Deum, Vaughan Williams’ Benedicite, Fauré’s Requiem, Bach’s St John Passion and Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme, Schubert’s Mass in G, Brahms’ Requiem, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Rutter’s Magnificat and Requiem. Charlotte has performed in prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sadler’s Wells, St John’s Smith Square, and was delighted to sing at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of HRH The Prince of Wales. Charlotte has appeared with leading ensembles including the Tallis Scholars, Philharmonia Voices, Aurora Nova, Orpheus Britannicus and the Hanover Band. She recently performed in Vaughan Williams’ The Pilgrims Progress at Sadler’s Wells and Three Shakespeare Songs at the Royal Festival Hall under the late Richard Hickox. Other engagements have included performances with the sell-out comedy string trio Pluck at the Purcell Room on the South Bank and the Arts Theatre in the West End. Additional highlights include a special presentation of Bunyan’s The Pilgrims’ Progress with readings by the veteran actor Timothy West at the Tunbridge Wells Festival and a performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the BBC Proms under Daniel Barenboim.​

Soprano Alison Daniels studied music at Pembroke College Cambridge, and singing at the Royal Northern College of Music where she held the Frances Furness Scholarship. Since the turn of the millennium she has pursued a career as a freelance singer, including work with the BBC Daily Service singers, the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, and appearances at the Buxton Opera Festival and the Grassington, Gainsborough and Swaledale Festivals. Operatic roles include Nedda (I Pagliacci), Mimi ( La Boheme), Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea) and Fiordiligi ( Cosi fan Tutte). She has sung as a soloist in recital and oratorio, at the Wigmore Hall and at many English cathedrals. Career highlights include broadcasting from the Holy Land with the BBC at the turn of the millennium, singing Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Fairhaven Singers in Kings College Chapel, and singing in the British première of Kaija Saariaho’s Chateau de L’Âme at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester under Kent Nagano. Alison is now based in Cambridge where she continues to sing professionally as a soloist and ensemble singer, deputising in London Churches and as a member of the East Midlands ensemble, Luminatus. More recently she has begun to direct choirs and is now the musical director of the Meridian Singers and St Ives Choral Society.


Mezzo-soprano Lucy Taylor read Modern and Medieval Languages and was a choral exhibitioner at Clare College, Cambridge. She studied under Patricia MacMahon as a Caird Scholar at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where she won the Governors’ Recital and John Ireland prizes, and performed numerous operatic roles, including Diana (La Calisto) and Maurya (Riders To The Sea). Lucy is now based in Cambridge. She studies with Neil Semer, and is a Crear Scholar. Recent performances have included Vivaldi’s Gloria in Ely Cathedral, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in King’s Chapel for the Cambridge Summer Music Festival, Duruflé’s Requiem in St Etienne-du-Mont, Paris, and Mozart’s Requiem with the Central England Camerata. She has performed Bach’s Matthäus-Passion with the Israel Camerata, Handel’s Belshazzar under René Jacobs at the Berliner Staatsoper, Handel’s Messiah with the International Festival Chorus of Beijing, Andronico (Tamerlano) and Arsamene (Serse) for Cambridge Handel Opera Group, Mozart’s C Minor Mass for the Cambridge Music Festival, and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in the Markgräfliches Opernhaus, Bayreuth and Leipzig’s Thomaskirche. Lucy works regularly for a number of professional ensembles,including English Voices, with whom she performed at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2010 and 2014, London Voices, and the BBC Singers, with whom she performed Poulenc’s Stabat Mater under Marc Minkowski for the 2016 BBC Proms.

Mezzo-soprano Penelope Chaney was a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain before becoming a student of Veterinary Medicine and choral scholar at Trinity college Cambridge. She also sang regularly for the choirs of Christ's and Clare Colleges. More recently she has sung in a number of choirs including the Holst singers and the Petrucci Consort. Penelope also runs a children's singing group, works as an ecologist, bakes cakes professionally, loves swimming in rivers and tries to keep up with her three young children.

Mezzo-soprano Rachael Beale's vocal training involved several happy years with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and as a choral scholar in the chapel choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. Since leaving Trinity College with an MA in English Literature, she has sung with a range of other groups, including I Fagiolini (performing Striggio and Gabrieli at the BBC Proms), the Armonico Consort (with whom she will also be singing Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers in autumn 2017), the Schola Gregoriana (cantor/soloist) and the Corydon Singers. She has performed on BBC Radio 3's In Tune and for the World Service. Solo work has included Vivaldi's Gloria and the Pergolesi Stabat Mater. She sings regularly for several London church choirs and for the choir of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge. She is also a member of early music consort specialists the Kenderdine Consort, with whom she will be singing a programme of Monteverdi's Lamento di Arianna, La Sestina and Lamento della Ninfa in the Fitzwilliam Museum in September 2017. Beyond singing, Rachael has spent much of her career writing for technical companies or doing technical things for literary ones. She is Web Manager for the London Review of Books, was a judge for the 2013 Costa First Novel Award, and also works as a freelance editor and manuscript reader.

Mezzo -soprano Emily Orton has been singing for as long as she can remember. She was a chorister in Norwich Cathedral Girls' Choir, and sang in the choirs of Trinity, St Catharine's and Queens' Colleges during her time studying mathematics here at Cambridge. After graduating (and staying around to study a bit more), she qualified as a chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser, alongside singing with the Cambridge-based Petrucci Ensemble and regularly deputising at various London churches. 

Soprano Caroline Hunter studied Music and Philosophy at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, and during her time there was awarded the Ley/Webb Mitchell Music Prize.  While in Cambridge she regularly performed as a soloist and was a member of Queens’ College Chapel Choir, Anglia Chamber Choir and Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus and Orchestra. On moving to London she completed diplomas in Concert Singing and Opera Studies (Abbey Opera) at the University of London, under the direction of Hazel Wood and Mary Hill.  She was a member of the London Symphony Chorus, touring all over Europe and performing with conductors such as Richard Hickox and Sir Colin Davis. Her experience as an oratorio soloist has included engagements with the English Baroque Choir, London Pro Arte Choir, Millenium Scholars, London Ripieno Society, Downham Market Choral Society, and the Rosslyn Hill Chapel Choir.  Recent performances have included singing as the soprano soloist in Harvey Brough’s Requiem in Blue and the debut of James Drewe’s Jubilate Deo.  She also performs regularly at the Arts Depot in North London, and puts on her own recitals.  She studies singing with Mairi Armstrong.

© 2019 by Paula Downes

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