Paula Downes


Contact Paula: or 07897 873765

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Soprano Paula Downes, younger daughter of English composer Andrew Downes. soprano, filmmaker, teacher, musical director, podcaster, Creative Director of Lynwood Music.

"Paula Downes has provided a sensitively and intelligently compiled and edited film", Paul Conway, MUSICAL OPINION

Podcast selected by Feedspot in the TOP 30 COMPOSITION PODCASTS ON THE WEB!!!

Short Biography
Paula Downes was a Choral Scholar at Trinity College Cambridge from 1998–2001, and has since performed with The Sixteen and Philharmonia Voices, and as a soloist with numerous Choral Societies and Orchestras, including performances under Stephen Cleobury in King's Chapel, Cambridge and under Sarah MacDonald in St John's Smith Square, London. She founded the female vocal group, The Cantabrigians, in 2016, and was Musical Director of The Meridian Singers in Bluntisham for two years from 2018. An experienced teacher, Paula has taught singing at Bristol University, and music and singing at schools including St John's College School, Cambridge. As Creative Director of Lynwood Music, Promoter and Publisher of the music of her father, composer Andrew Downes, Paula has produced many films, animations, multitrack recordings and a podcast series. From 2021, Paula embarked on an Apprenticeship in Audit with KPMG, and has continued her music-making by founding a KPMG Cambridge Office Choir, and also by continuing to volunteer with Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra as part of the firm's Corporate Responsibility programme. She has also organised and helped to deliver a careers talk at the University of Cambridge Music Faculty to encourage students to enter the KPMG Graduate Scheme.

Long Biography

As a Soprano, Paula Downes has been described as 'excellent' by the Boston Globe, and has been praised for her 'fine upper register' by Opera News; for 'the cool beauty of her voice' and 'affectingly plangent tone' by the Birmingham Post; and for her 'immaculate intonation' by the Nordsee-Zeitung, Germany.

After winning a Choral Scholarship to Trinity College Cambridge University, where she read music, and did a PGCE in Secondary Music Education, Paula went on to teach Music and Singing for three years at at South Hampstead High School, London. During this time, she was an A Level examiner for Edexcel and she gained an Opera Diploma from London University and an Acting Certificate from the Central School of Speech and Drama.

She moved to Boston, USA in 2005 to join her husband, while he completed his PhD in Musicology at Harvard, and during her four years there, she studied voice with tenor Frank Kelley; participated in Masterclasses at Harvard led by Robert Levin, Yehudi Wyner, and Daniel Stepner; undertook song and opera courses at the New England Conservatory; attended Accademia d'Amore, founded by Stephen Stubbs; and was a Stern Fellow at SongFest, where she was coached by John Harbison and Martin Katz. She also worked as Resident Music Tutor at Adams House, Harvard, and as a singing, piano and violin teacher for Artisan Music Studios, for Linneaen Community School, and for the New School of Music in Cambridge, MA. Additionally, she taught "Music Together", an early childhood music program.

On her return to the UK in 2009, she was awarded the Nicholas Boas Bursary to particpate in Masterclasses with Emma Kirkby at the Dartington International Summer School, where she met Jessica Cash and continued to study singing with her for a few years in London. She also worked as Head of Lower School Music at Haileybury College in Hertfordshire before moving on to teach Singing and Music at St. John's College School in Cambridge, UK, where she also regularly taught for Stringmoves and was Director of Sine Nomine Youth Choir in Histon.

She moved to Bristol in 2013 and coached the girls' choir of St Mary Redcliffe Church for a year before becoming a singing teacher for Bristol University in September 2014.

Paula moved back to Cambridge in 2015, where she has shared music and singing at Ace Nursery School; she has run a music club and workshop for St Philip's Primary School; she has coached members of St. Ives Choral Society; and she has run singing workshops at St Helen's Primary School in Bluntisham. She has also performed for Encore Concerts with her professional all-female vocal group, The Cantabrigians; she was Musical Director of the Meridian Singers, Bluntisham, from 2018 to 2020; and she taught for Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra in 2019 and 2020. Since taking up an Apprenticeship in Audit at KPMG from 2021, she has continued to volunteer with Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra, attending with her 2 daughters as a parent helper.

Paula is the creator of a set of Music Education resources, as part of this website. Many of the resources use music by Andrew Downes to demonstrate the topic.

As an oratorio soloist, Paula has sung with choral societies throughout the UK, most notably in St. John's, Smith Square, London under Sarah Macdonald; in King's Chapel, Cambridge under Stephen Cleobury; with Gig Caritas under Keith Horsfall; with Central England Camerata under David Trippett, Cynthia Downes and Anthony Bradbury; in St Edmundsbury Cathedral under James Thomas; with the Dorian Singers of Felixstowe under Alan Loader; St Ives Choral Society under Alison Daniels; Haslingfield Choral Society under Graham Walker; Collegium Laureatum under Ian Cobb; and in the New England area with Old North Festival Chorus, Marblehead under Maria VanKalken; Coro Allegro under David Hodgkins; the Providence Singers and the Newport Baroque Orchestra under Andrew Clark; the Masterworks Chorale under Sean Burton; and Chorus Pro Musica under Jeffrey Rink and Adam Boyles.

Solos with orchestra have included Bach's Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen with the South County Chamber Orchestra of Rhode Island, USA; Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate and Bach's Wedding Cantata with the Hagley Community Orchestra, Worcestershire, UK; Vivaldi’s Nulla in mundo pax sincera in La Madeleine, Paris; Andrew Downes' Celtic Rhapsody on tour in Germany, with the Central England Ensemble; and opera arias with the Central England Camerata.

Opera roles have included the creation of 'Bathsheba Everdene' in Far from the Madding Crowd by Andrew Downes for the Thomas Hardy Society, UK, and the reprisal of this role the following year for the Wednesbury Music Club, UK; 'Christian Woman' in The Prioress's Tale by Delvyn Case for Yale Institute of Sacred Music; ‘Amor’ in Cavalli's L'Egisto for Abbey Opera, UK; ‘Flora’ in Britten's The Turn of the Screw for Opera East Productions; and ‘Venus’; in both John Blow's Venus and Adonis at Cambridge University; and in Purcell's King Arthur for the Harvard Early Music Society.

Her passion and aptitude for new music has led to performances of works by Messiaen and Berio, and living composers such as Andrew Downes, Yehudi Wyner, John Harbison, Steve Reich, John Musto, Carson Cooman, and Delvyn Case. In 2008, she performed the World Premiere of Torrid Nature Scene by Nicholas Vines with the Firebird Ensemble in Cambridge MA, and then at the Tenri Cultural Institute in NYC.  She returned to Boston in 2010 to perform and record this work with the Calithumpian Consort at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory for Navona records.

She has performed as a recitalist with her husband, pianist David Trippett for numerous music clubs in the UK, and in venues such as the National Portrait Gallery, London; St Lawrence Jewry-next-Guildhall, London; Cambridge University; The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Harvard University; Bristol Music Club; St. Martin's in the Bullring, Birmingham; King's Chapel, Boston; MIT Chapel; Taylor House, Boston; and St John's Church, Bowdoin Street, Boston. Most recently they gave a concert for Markson Pianos Concert Series. She has performed lute songs with Musicke in the Ayre at St Stephen's Church, Bristol, UK and the Holburne Museum, Bath, and chamber music with the Amabile Ensemble at Peterborough Cathedral, UK, and with the Himley Trio and Quartet at Wednesbury Art Gallery, St Alphege Church, Solihull; St Andrew's Church, Rugby; Great St Mary's Church, Cambridge; and Downing Place, Cambridge.

Paula has sung in the Boston Bach Cantata Series of the Chorus of Emmanuel Music under Craig Smith, John Harbison, Michael Beattie and Scott Metcalfe; with 'The Sixteen' under Harry Christophers; the 'Philharmonia Voices' under Andras Schiff at the Royal Festival Hall, London; and the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus under Harry Christophers, John Finney and John Nelson at Symphony Hall, Boston, and under Sir Roger Norrington at the BBC Proms 2007, on live television from the Royal Albert Hall, London.

In 2016, Paula founded The Cantabrigians, a professional, all-female vocal group singing mainly one-to-a-part. They have performed in Christ's Chapel, and Churchill Chapel, Cambridge, for Encore Concerts, Jesus College Music Society May Week Concert Series, and the Brandenburg Choral Festival of London.

Following an intensive film-making course at the New York Film Academy, Paula embarked on a long-term project of combining film images with songs by Andrew Downes.  A fusion of three elements, the films interpret the songs, just as the songs interpret the poetry.  Paula has gone on to make films to accompany choral and instrumental music by Andrew Downes, as well as documentary-style films, which can be seen throughout this website.

Paula's singing can also be heard on her Multitrack Promotional Recordings, made as part of her role as Creative Director of Lynwood Music, Publishers and Promoters of Andrew Downes. These can be seen on the homepage and throughout the website.

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Soprano Paula Downes, younger daughter of English composer Andrew Downes. soprano, filmmaker, teacher, musical director, podcaster, Creative Director of Lynwood Music.

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"Paula Downes has provided a sensitively and intelligently compiled and edited film", Paul Conway, Musical Opinion, 2020​

Read amazon reviews of Paula's DVD, Songs of Love & War

'In the event, Paula Downes stepped in and scored a triumphant success.', 2017 

'...Paula Downes' brave, exposed and extended soprano singing of her father's a performance of great empathy, not least in the well-judged pauses.' Birmingham Post, 2016 

'...with the delightful Paula Downes as soprano soloist'. Audience Review,, 2015

'Paula Downes brought clarity and dignity to the important soprano role, entirely in keeping with the unvarnished, folk-like vocal writing'. Musical Opinion, 2015

'His daughter Paula sang that role tonight, bringing purity and an affectingly plangent tone to Downes’s lyrical, plainsong-like vocal writing'. Birmingham Post, 2015

'...the inspired singing of Paula Downes...', Mary Wheway, Frances Brett Young Society Journal, 2015

'Paula Downes with her clear beautiful voice sang the soprano part', Joyce Coley, Frances Brett Young Society Journal, 2015

'The seat I occupied, 4th row, was excellent for observing those on stage, particularly the outstanding soprano.' Stan Hill, President, Frances Brett Young Society Journal, 2015

'...the excellent soprano singer.' Ian Sinclair, Frances Brett Young Society Journal, 2015

'Kudos to sopranos Paula Downes and Thea Lobo for handling the appreciable vocal gymnastics and odd moods required.' The Audiophile Audition, 2013

'Superb oboe, flute and soprano solo performaces brought a quality feel to this local enterprise.' Contact, Hagley, Church of England Parish Magazine, 2012

'Paula Downes was the soprano and Thea Lobo the mezzo in the Vines and both were excellent'. The Boston Globe, 2010

In the ‘intentionally difficult’ Torrid Nature Scene by Nicholas Vines, Paula Downes was ‘comfortable and almost playful’, performing ‘explosive sounds of the words’, ‘vocalized sighs’ and ‘distortions of mouth shapes’. The Boston Musical Intelligencer, 2010

'Paula Downes, the composer's daughter, brought a fine upper register and cold authority to the marriage-resistant Bathsheba Everdene.' Opera News, 2006

'Pride of place inevitably goes to Paula Downes as Bathsheba - she looked and lived the part and her natural unforced voice, [...] was ideally suited to the character' British Music Society Journal, 2006

'Paula Downes, the composer’s daughter, a stylish and canny performer' Church Times, UK, 2006

'Paula Downes - pure-toned and coquettish [...]And best of all, the superbly-realised first encounter between Bathsheba and Troy [...] crowned by Bathsheba's ascent into the stratosphere' Birmingham Post, UK, 2006

'Distinctive vocals rang out [...] Paula Downes, daughter of the composer and librettist, was perfectly suited to the teasing role of Bathsheba and played it with aplomb' Sandwell Chronicle, UK, 2006

'All the leading roles were in safe professional hands: Paula Downes brought a delightful purity and coquettishness to her role as the flirtatious Bathsheba Everdene' Incorporated Society of Musicians Journal, UK, 2006 

'Paula Downes...led with clear vocal projection and immaculate intonation into a moving bygone world of poetry.' Nordsee-Zeitung

'the cool beauty of her voice projected the atmospheric phrases [...] true and clear against the accompaniment' Birmingham Post, UK, 2005

'The soloists were outstanding - the beautiful clear voice of Paula Downes delighted everyone' Hagley Village News, 2002


Soprano Paula Downes, younger daughter of English composer Andrew Downes. soprano, filmmaker, teacher, musical director, podcaster, Creative Director of Lynwood Music.

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If you have performed in any of Andrew Downes' works or come to listen, please share your experiences in the Premieres Blog! Also see what others have said. Thank you so much for your contribution.