The society has been well served over the years by several fine conductors. The current principal conductor is Andrew Parnell. From the 2015-16 season the principal conductor will be Richard Laing.
Until 2001, Andrew Parnell’s professional career was centred on St Albans. At the cathedral, he was Assistant Master of the Music and Founder/Director of the Abbey Girls Choir. He was also Music Master and Choral Director at St Albans School, and Conductor of the St Albans Symphony Orchestra. Then he relinquished these posts to establish a freelance career as an organist, composer, and conductor.
Andrew has retained strong links with cathedral music, as Acting Assistant Organist at the Cathedrals in Ely, Canterbury, Wakefield and Southwell, and as acting Director of Music at Ely in 2006. He worked at Canterbury for a third stint in 2008, which included the Lambeth Conference. Andrew continues to be offered engagements here and abroad as organ soloist or accompanist, recently appearing with choirs in Cambridge, St Albans, Guildford, Orpington and Bath Abbey and as solo recitalist in St Albans Abbey and St Andrew’s Hall in Norwich.
His compositions, both sacred and secular, have been performed in the UK and abroad. Recent projects include Variations on ‘Ave maris stella’ for organ, Duo-concerto for Cor Anglais, Clarinet and Strings, a saints’ day anthem for Blackburn Cathedral, a major work for Cambridgeshire Choral Society, premiered in King’s College Chapel in February 2010, and Variations on ‘The Green Bushes’ commissioned by the Cambridge Clarinet Choir.
Andrew conducts the Cambridgeshire and the Ely Choral Societies, the Wymondham Symphony Orchestra, and, annually, the St Albans–based chamber choir Carillon. A recent joy has been to establish and guide the new Ely Youth Choir. 2010’s events range from Peace Child Alpha Omega, David Gordon’s contemporary musical/oratorio, to Dvořák’s 6th Symphony, to Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Finzi’s Intimations of Immortality.