American conductor Fiona Ellis completed her Master of Music in Choral Conducting degree at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, USA, the only residential choir college and largely considered the most prestigious Choral Conducting program worldwide. There she studied under Joe Miller, James Jordan, and Amanda Quist, and conducted four of their nine academic choirs. She Assistant Conducted Westminster Chapel Choir, comprised of all 80 first-year conservatory students. She conducted Westminster Master Singers, comprised of 25-30 Masters Degree students. She was Section Leader for Westminster Choir, the conservatory’s premier touring and recording chamber ensemble for whom she rehearsed the choir for tours and for their annual choir-in-residence at Spoleto Festival USA performing under Joe Miller, John Kennedy, and Steven Sloane. Fiona was Section Leader for Westminster Symphonic Choir, a choir of 220 bachelor and masters students serving as the primary choir for Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and visiting orchestras including Berlin Philharmoniker and Wiener Philharmoniker. Fiona rehearsed the choir in preparation for Mahler’s Symphonie der Tausend under Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
After moving to The Netherlands, Fiona became conductor of Nijmeegs Studentenkoor Alphons Diepenbrock in November 2016. Our concert highlights under Fiona include Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor with orchestra Arnhem Sinfonietta, a Baroque program including Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit Pour Noël and Vivaldi’s Magnificat, and a Scratch day of Faure’s Requiem and other short works with 145 student and guest singers and orchestra Flos Campi.
In the Netherlands, Fiona has guest-conducted symphonic choirs Philips Philharmonisch Koor, Toonkunstkoor Caecilia, and Voorburgse Oratorium Vereniging, and chamber choir Corps d'Esprit. Prior to The Netherlands, in 2010 Fiona founded and directed the Manda Wilderness Choral Festival for a non-profit organisation in Mozambique. There she travelled to 13 remote village choirs alongside a translator to conduct choral workshops. The annual project is now sponsored by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation. In London, Fiona studied conducting with Jeremy Haneman of the Royal Opera House and Esther Hargittai of the British Kodály Academy. She has conducted in masterclasses under Amy Bebbington, Ryan Brandau, James Davey, Joseph Flummerfelt, Jeremy Haneman, Jerry McCoy, John Russell, Patrick Russill, Martin Seymour, Mark Sproson, and James Whitbourn.
An avid soprano, Fiona specialises in early and modern music. She sang in Westminster Choir under Joe Miller for two seasons of concert tours and Spoleto Festival USA where highlights included: Bach's Matthäus-Passion, Beethoven’s Chorphantasie and Messe in C-Dur; Carissimi’s Jephte, Lachenmann’s Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion, and featured solos in Debussy’s Trois Chansons, Poulenc's Mass in G major, and Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. Fiona also sang for two seasons in Westminster Symphonic Choir under Daniele Gatti (Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem), Jane Glover (Handel’s Messiah), Jacques Lacombe (Beethoven’s 9. Sinfonie, Debussy’s Nocturnes, and Orff’s Carmina Burana), Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Bach’s Matthäus-Passion and Mahler’s 2. Sinfonie and 8. Sinfonie), and Sir Simon Rattle (Beethoven’s 9. Sinfonie). She sang in early music chamber choir Westminster Kantorei under Amanda Quist and has also sung under Renato Balsadonna, Peter Phillips, and Ivor Setterfield.
In The Netherlands, Fiona has sung as the vocal intern with Nederlands Kamerkoor under Klaas Stok and Edo de Waart, with Kurt Thomas Chamber Choir for masterclass clinicians Daniel Reuss, Rob Vermeulen, and Adrián R. Van der Spoel, with Rotterdam Symphonic Choir and Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest under Wiecher Mandemaker and Stéphane Denève, and with The Bach Choir and Orchestra of The Netherlands under Pieter Jan Leusink.
Fiona was born to Zimbabwean parents, though raised in the United States. Following her Bachelor’s Degree at University of Richmond with double majors in Rhetoric & Communication Studies and French Language and a minor in Dance, she eventually pursued a career in music. Fiona’s musical training dates back to age 5 with Suzuki piano studies followed by flute at age 9. She currently studies voice with Ronald Klekamp.