Gillian Dibden's Story
Gillian is in pursuit of the perfect choir! Her Fellowship enabled her to study two extremes of choral training in South Africa and Finland. She now uses these techniques with the hundreds of young people she inspires annually to sing in choirs.
During her Fellowship Gillian spent time in South Africa and Finland. Both countries offer the extremes of choral skill and experience. In South Africa it was the richness of tone, full of soul and emotion, captivating in its sound and commitment with natural and mostly untrained voices that attracted her. In Finland, the appeal was the purity of the well tuned sound, reminiscent of instruments. Both vocal and choral techniques are very refined and highly skilled enabling the most challenging repertoire to be performed with apparent ease. Gillian set out to meet the best examples.
Since her return Gillian has worked hard to bring together these two extremes in her own choral training. The challenge she faces is to balance the excitement (freedom) of one, with the refinement (discipline) of the other – thus making the ‘perfect’ choir.
In the UK, choirs do not often move easily or naturally whilst they sing – in South Africa they never stand still. UK choirs are generally very well disciplined chorally, although there are many even finer examples in Finland – exquisite blend and focus in the sound – the human voice at its best.
Gillian is now a freelance musician and delivers workshops to other choirs and to schools, and inset to teachers. She includes African songs, encourages movement and passionate, emotional singing. Her aim is to develop the best and most focused sounds possible from those with whom she works, so that they can unlock the full potential of their voices.
Already a successful choirmaster prior to her Fellowship, Gillian went to on establish the Taplow Choirs in Berkshire, which have won national and international awards. She also adjudicates the National Choir of the Year competition and for the National Festival of Music for Youth.
Gillian works with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and regional Youth Choirs from throughout the country. She is a former member of the Council of the Association of British Choral Directors and has been involved as a leader in the National 'Sing Up!' programme with them.
In 2009 Gillian was awarded an MBE for services to Youth Choral Music in Berkshire.