DEBORAH MILES-JOHNSON comes from a musical family in London and has been singing all her life. Her parents met in a madrigal group and her grandmother sang under Gustav Holst at St Paul's Girls School. Deborah then studied at the Royal College of Music as a flautist and pianist. Whilst there she sang in the chorus of Bach's Bminor Mass, a memorable experience which gave her the first idea of learning to sing. Subsequently, after working freelance with such groups as the Sixteen and the Tallis Scholars, she joined the BBC Singers for some years. She now enjoys a varied career as a singer but also as a conductor and vocal coach.
As a Singer Deborah has now worked with most of the world’s leading conductors including Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Andrew Davis performing Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles although her first performance as a student was under Leonard Bernstein in Stravinky's Les Noces. Amongst many solo performances was Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the English Concert in concerts around Europe, Istanbul and Japan and the lead role in Handel’s Il Parnasso in Festa for the London Handel Society which was taken by the BBC. Two other highlights were Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall and a performance of Das Rheingold (Fricka) in concert in Oxford.
Active in the contemporary repertoire, Deborah performed Satyagraha by Philip Glass at the Festival Hall and one of the secretaries in the first London performance of Nixon in China by John Adams with Kent Nagano and the LSO. Deborah acquired a reputation for taking on difficult contemporary works at short notice and took the part of Caroline in Henze’s ‘Elegy for young Lovers’ for Radio France at three days notice, the premiere of Brian Elias’s Laments with the BBCSO at a week's notice and Jean Barraqué’s …au dela du hasard with Klangforum in Vienna although that had the luxury of two weeks!
Commercial recordings include an excerpt from Carmen with Gerald Finlay on his recent recital disc and the Missa Brevis in D and Bflat by Mozart with St Albans Cathedral Choir under Andrew Lucas for Naxos. She recorded the role of Betty Doxy in the Britten/Gay arrangement of The Beggars Opera and one of the Converse in the EMI recording of Puccini's Suor Angelica. She made her Wigmore Hall debut performing Upon Silence by George Benjamin with the viol group Fretwork following performances in Geneva, and subsequently revisited the Wigmore Hall for a recital with clarinettist Colin Bradbury.
She sings regularly at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden as a member of the Extra Chorus and has sung under many conductors including Semyon Bychkov (Tannhäuser) Lorin Maazel (1984) and Daniel Oren (Robert le Diable). She was on stage with Carlos Acosta in 2015 in his final performances of 'Carmen', a ballet he choreographed using a few singers as part of the production. Other productions include Andrea Chénier (Giordano) under Sir Antonio Pappano where she sang alongside Jonas Kaufmann. Current performances include Tannhäuser (Wagner) and Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti) and Oedipe (Enescu). As a young singer she also worked under Sir Georg Solti in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in performances around Germany!
Deborah also has a thriving career as a vocal coach and chorus master. She began by conducting friends in male voice choir music which eventually evolved into the now highly successful prizewinning Imperial Male Voice Choir with whom she performs all over the world, most recently in St Petersburg. She was appointed Chorus Master for Chelsea Opera Group in 2010 and had the privilege of working with Richard Bonynge on Donizetti’s Belisario. She was vocal coach to the excellent BBC Symphony Chorus for 20years until recently, has assisted many of the big London choirs and now gives vocal workshops to choirs around the country and abroad. (www.choralclinic.co.uk). She worked with the Hong Kong Bach Choir in 2011 and Sydney, Australia in December in 2014 for choral workshops and sessions with the choristers at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Her diverse musical life includes performing on the sound track of many recent major films including Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the latest Shrek and Alice through the looking glass. She has a thriving teaching practice at her home in St Albans and enjoys playing the viola (not very well) in a string quartet.