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Sir Stephen Cleobury (1948–2019)

King’s College, Cambridge has announced the death of the College’s recently retired Director of Music, Sir Stephen Cleobury, on 22 November, after a long illness.

Stephen Cleobury was Director of Music at King’s for 37 years and was perhaps best known for his direction of one of the world’s most famous choirs. He also had a long association with the BBC Singers and the Cambridge University Musical Society as well as founding the tradition of the annual commissioned carol for the Christmas Eve service broadcast from King’s College Chapel.

During his tenure at King’s, Cleobury influenced thousands of choristers, choral scholars and organ scholars at the College, as a teacher and role model. In December 2018, he conducted the Choir in the 100th anniversary of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, broadcast live millions of listeners around the world. Six months later, he was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to choral music.

King’s College Provost, Professor Michael Proctor, said:

‘As Director of Music, Sir Stephen served this College with distinction for nearly four decades. On this truly sad day, the College community, and indeed many around the world, are mourning his passing with a profound feeling of loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sir Stephen’s family and the Choristers and Scholars of our choir who worked so closely with him.’

A book of condolence is available in King’s College Chapel during normal opening hours until the end of the term, and an online book of condolence is available on the College website. The College will host a memorial service later this academic year.