We are delighted and privileged to have Ian Caley as our President - one of Britain's best-known and most versatile tenors with a repertoire stretching from Pre-Classical to contemporary. Although Ian only took over as our President in 2009, he has in fact been a close friend and mentor of the Choir for many years. He grew up in Preston, Lancashire where he became immersed in church music, first as a choirboy, then choir man, before becoming an organist and choirmaster. He was also a keen member of Preston Cecelian Choral Society. He entered the Royal Manchester College of Music as a pianist, then, after one year, turned to singing as his main study. While a student, he sang the title role in Peter Grimes, Don José in Carmen, his first “Dream of Gerontius” and sang many repertoire-learning concerts with societies all over the North West.
His professional debut came at Glyndebourne alongside Dame Janet Baker and Benjamin Luxon where he was awarded the John Christie Prize for the outstanding young singer of the season. For several years, Ian continued to appear both at the Festival and with the Touring Opera. Among the roles he performed was that of Tom Rakewell, in The Rake’s Progress which saw the professional debut of Sir Simon Rattle, establishing a continuing partnership. Ian had by now met former Harrow Choral Society president, Sir Charles Groves, who, until his untimely death, gave him many solo opportunities both in the UK and abroad. He also sang regularly with the English National Opera and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, soon followed by Opera North and Scottish Opera where he became a regular guest.
By this time, his career had become established in Europe, developing firstly in France, then in Italy, Switzerland and Germany. His Paris Opera debut was in the Palais Garnier where he was the last British singer heard before the company moved to La Bastille. There, he became the first British artist to sing in the new house and, within a few years, the Paris Opera’s most-engaged foreign artist. In Italy, he has appeared at La Scala, Milan and La Fenice, Venice as well as at the Rome Opera and the historic Teatro San Carlo in Naples. He has had long-term engagements in Germany with the operas of Frankfurt and Stuttgart and has sung in the major Staatsopern of Berlin, both Unter den Linden and Deutsche Oper, Munich and Hamburg. In Switzerland he sang his first Florestan in Fidelio, Parsifal and first professional Peter Grimes. He has also sung many performances at La Monnaie in Brussels and at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
Alongside his opera work, Ian has always had a varied and much-enjoyed concert career, working with major international conductors. It has taken him to most European countries as well as to the USA, Canada, Israel and Japan, providing him with an even more varied repertoire than in the Opera House. He has also given recitals, especially of The Diary of One Who Disappeared by Janáček and has made a number of recordings. In a new career development he now coaches and advises Trainees at the National Opera Studio.