Paul Spicer (musician)

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Paul Spicer (born 1952) is an English composer, conductor, and organist. He has worked as a music teacher, at the Royal College of Music and the Birmingham Conservatoire, as a producer for BBC Radio 3, and as artistic director of the Lichfield Festival. He conducts the Birmingham Bach Choir, the Finzi Singers, and the Whitehall Choir. His compositions include two oratorios with libretti by the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright.

Spicer is a champion of early 20th century British composers. He founded the Finzi Singers and is a trustee of the Finzi Trust. He is vice-president of the Herbert Howells Society and author of a biography of Howells. He is also an advisor to the Sir George Dyson Trust and is working on a biography of Dyson.


Spicer was born in Bowdon, Greater Manchester, and became a chorister at New College, Oxford. He then attended the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied with the composer Herbert Howells and the organist Richard Popplewell. He taught music at Uppingham School and Ellesmere College from 1974 until 1984, and was then Senior Producer for BBC Radio 3 in the Midlands until 1990.[1]

From 1990 to 2001, Spicer was Artistic Director of The Lichfield Festival. He introduced a number of innovations, including staging opera at the festival, and having a Composer-in-Residence, among whom were William Mathias and Robert Saxton.

From 1995 to 2008 he taught at the Royal College of Music,[2] latterly as a professor of choral conducting, and he now teaches choral conducting at the Birmingham Conservatoire. He has recorded many CDs of choral music, including over 15 with the Finzi Singers for Chandos Records.


Spicer has written chamber music and works for organ and piano, and is best known for his choral compositions. The Deciduous Cross (2003) is a choral setting of poems by the Welsh poet and priest R. S. Thomas. Spicer's Easter Oratorio (2005) was written in collaboration with the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright,[3] as was his Advent Oratorio (2009).[4]


Spicer's biography of his former teacher, Herbert Howells - Border Lines, was published in 1998 by Seren Books.[5] His biography of the composer George Dyson is due to be published by Boydell & Brewer in 2014.[6]


  1. ^ Biography
  2. ^ Peter Kingston (29 March 2005). "Paul Spicer: lone voice". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ Resurrection: From Theology to Music and Back Again Bishop Wright's account of collaborating with Spicer on the Easter Oratorio
  4. ^ Advent without cant, and carols in no man’s land Review of Advent Oratorio in the Church Times
  5. ^ Herbert Howells Seren Books
  6. ^ Howells & Dyson,