Former Duke's School pupil made an MBE

A former pupil of the Duke's School, Alnwick, has been made an MBE for services to music in the New Year Honours.

David Temple MBE, co-founder and music director of Crouch End Festival Chorus, north London.
David Temple MBE, co-founder and music director of Crouch End Festival Chorus, north London.

David Temple was at the school from about 1970 to 1972, during which time his father, Rev Arthur Temple, was Methodist Minister in Seahouses.

He went on to co-found the famous Crouch End Festival Chorus in north London in 1984 and is now its musical director.

But David’s musical career started at the Duke’s School, where he was inspired by music teacher Aileen Willcox, who was also leader of the Alnwick Choir.

“I came to the school having been at Whitley Bay Grammar until O-Levels but I wanted to play football,” David, 63, told the Gazette.

“The Duke’s School was, at the time, a rugby school and so I was embraced by Mrs Willcox’s music entourage and from then began a passion for music, albeit more fuelled by enthusiasm than skill!”

In one of his first public performances, he sang Dick Deadeye to Ian Graham’s Captain Corcoran during a concert of extracts from HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance in St James’s Church Hall, Pottergate, during Alnwick Fair week in 1972. Ian is another Duke’s old boy and is now a judge at Basildon Crown Court.

“It was only when I went to London in 1972 that it really took off,”said David.

He was 18 and joined the London Philharmonic Choir. He taught himself to read music and, within weeks, was singing under conductors of the calibre of Sir Georg Solti and Sir Adrian Boult.

David and tenor John Gregson formed the Crouch End Festival Chorus, now one of the leading symphony choruses in the UK, after handing out leaflets in the area inviting singers to join in a local performance of the Verdi Requiem. Since then, the chorus has gone from strength to strength, and now has some 150 singers on its books.

Commenting on the award, David said: “I am both proud and thrilled to receive this award – and I would like to dedicate it to all who have supported me throughout my career, both on the concert platform and behind the scenes.”

Since 2000. Newcastle-born David has also been music director for Hertfordshire Chorus, and works as a guest chorus master with the BBC Symphony Chorus.

He has also worked with children for many years, often involving them in major concerts.

“I live in London now but I do visit Newcastle and Northumberland regularly,” said David.

“I also conduct at Sage Gateshead. Aileen Willcox came a couple of times to Sage and it was wonderful to meet her again.”

Hugh Bowden, CEFC chairman of trustees, said: “David is one of the country’s best choral conductors, and it is thanks to him that Crouch End Festival Chorus has become known for the diversity of its music-making as well as the quality of its singing. We are very proud of David, and delighted that his work with us over decades has been recognised in this way.”