Timothy Penrose obituary

Other lives: Singer and choirmaster with a passion for church music

Tim Penrose, who has died aged 64 after contracting pneumonia, was a singer, choirmaster, organist, teacher, and authority on early music. He began his career as a Quirister, a treble in the choir of Winchester College, which gave him a lasting passion for choral and church music. He was inspiring, warm and very funny. Tim treated everyone alike, whether they were a six-year-old novice, an international soloist or the most ordinary member of his choir, like me, whose voice was never going to come to anything.
He was born in Farnham, Surrey. When he expressed a desire to go to a choir school, he was encouraged by his father, Edward, a journalist, and mother, Dorothy. He emerged from Trinity School of Music, London, as a brilliant countertenor.

In his early career he sang roles in baroque opera including Purcell's The Fairy Queen and Handel's Semele, with John Eliot Gardiner, but he later concentrated on oratorio and masses, making many recordings for Radio 3. He sang for three years with the Chapel Royal and was a member of the early music group Pro Cantione Antiqua. In 1988 he became organist and choirmaster at All Saints, West Dulwich, south-east London, continuing his international career as a countertenor while building up a choir that gave All Saints its reputation for splendid music.

When the Grade I-listed church was gutted by fire in 2000, he staged concerts of baroque music in the Great Hall of Dulwich College to raise money for a pipe organ in the restored church. These were memorable occasions for all of us taking part or listening, and the new organ was eventually installed in 2012.
He taught privately and at Trinity school, Croydon; on hearing of his death, a former pupil wrote: "Your lessons were fun, exciting, and I couldn't wait to hear one of your terrible jokes come out." Another, commented on Tim's "life-enhancing capacity" saying: "We all lit up through his spark. He made people's lives better."

Tim is survived by his wife, Carol, whom he married in 1986, and daughters, Lucy and Emma.

Jane Reid

The GuardianTramp

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