John Potter
Musician & Author


Ensemble Coaching

Ensemble singing – polyphony with one voice to a part – is one of the most dynamic and creative forms of singing of our time. Whether you’re an early music group, a jazz or pop inspired ensemble, a barbershop quartet or an experimental outfit, or simply a group of friends meeting for fun, there’s nothing like the sheer joy that comes with singing together. For the last three decades or so I’ve been lucky enough to mentor and coach some of the world’s most successful ensembles as well as groups of friends who just want a session to point them in the right direction.

I have measured out my life in vocal groups of one sort or another The Gentle Power of Song (2 albums for Polydor), Swingle II (7 album for CBS, RCA and Decca), Electric Phoenix and Electronic Vocal Theatre (sadly no recorded remains), The Sound and the Fury (15+ albums for ORF and Fra Bernado), Red Byrd (12+ albums for Hyperion, Factory and others), The Conductus Ensemble (3 albums for Hyperion, the Hilliard Ensemble (too many to count for EMI, ECM and others), as well as instrumental ensembles that gave equal parity to singers such as Tragicomedia (4 albums for Teldec), the Gavin Bryars Ensemble (ECM, Point, GB Records) and Alternative History (2 for ECM under my name).

My coaching life began with the Hilliard Ensemble, initially in Finland where our visits to the Sibelius Academy’s Kangasniemi summer school began a long association with many Finnish groups including Köyhät Ritarit, then considered Finland’s national vocal ensemble. The Hilliards’ own summer schools in Cambridge and in Germany led to collaborations with Amarcord, Singer Pur, the Scandinavian Trio Mediaeval and Juice from the UK, all of whom went on to international success. After leaving the Hilliards I continued to work with ensembles in England and Germany, often alongside Werner Schüßler, coaching emerging groups such as Calmus, Ensemble Nobiles and the all-female ensemble Sjaella. I’ve also continued to work with Trio Mediaeval, producing their first four albums for ECM and later co-producing with Morten Lindberg. The Trio’s Anna Maria Friman and I have done joint workshops in Scandinavia, the UK and the Baltic States. I’ve also maintained a special connection with Finland, and had the privilege of chairing the ensemble jury at the Tampere International Vocal Festival, host to vocal ensembles of all genres from all over the world.

While at the University of York I started the MA in Ensemble Singing, the only course of its kind in the country (and still going under Robert Hollingworth), and many ex-York singers have gone on to sing in some of the UK’s most exciting ensembles.

When I was commissioned to edit the Cambridge Companion to Singing, I wrote a chapter on ensemble singing which attempted to encapsulate how the Hilliards worked. It’s actually very simple, and my suggestions from back then are still pretty much what I teach today, but if you’d like a live session rather than just reading about it, do get in touch via the link below.

Concerts & Bookings

For concerts worldwide, John Potter, The Alternative History Quartet and The Dowland Project are represented by:

Robert White Artist Management

182 Moselle Avenue


Tel: + 44 (0)208 881 6914


Email John Potter

For all other enquiries please email John Potter directly using the contact form below: