Who We Are


Stephen Jackson is one of Britain’s most experienced choral trainers. He sang as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, then went on to Trinity School Croydon and Clare College Cambridge where he read music. After a few years as a professional bassoonist he turned to singing (he was a member of the BBC Singers for 10 years) and, finally, conducting and choir training.

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For 26 years he directed the amateur BBC Symphony Chorus, preparing a huge repertoire for many of the world’s principal conductors, among them Boulez, Haitink, Salonen, Rattle, Norrington, Colin Davis and Andrew Davis. In addition to countless choral/ orchestral premieres for which he was responsible (composers with whom he has worked include Tippett, Berio and John Adams), Stephen himself conducted Proms, CDs, studio recordings and the first performances of works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Richard Rodney Bennett, Judith Bingham, Carl Rütti, Stephen Montague and others, many specially written for him. A unique achievement is to have programmed and broadcast 20th century a cappella classics not previously considered performable by an amateur symphony chorus – Schoenberg De profundis, Poulenc Figure humaine, Britten A Boy was Born, Strauss Die Gőttin im Putzzimmer and many others. Now freelance, Stephen continues to tour worldwide as conductor, teacher and adjudicator. He has worked in China, Japan, the USA, Australia and throughout Europe. In London he directs the chamber choir of Trinity Laban Conservatoire and is a member of the education panel of the Association of British Choral Directors. As a composer and arranger he is published by Novello and Boosey & Hawkes.


Deborah Miles-Johnson combines the roles of a singer, vocal coach and conductor. As a singer she has worked with many of the world’s leading conductors including Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Andrew Davis. As a consort singer Deborah was a staff member of the BBC Singers for many years and has sung, recorded and broadcast with many other high profile ensembles including The Sixteen and the Tallis Scholars.

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As a soloist she acquired a reputation for taking on difficult contemporary repertoire at short notice such as Jean Barraqué’s …au delà du hasard in Vienna, the première of Brian Elias’s Laments with the BBCSO and Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers for Radio France. Other solo highlights include Upon Silence by George Benjamin at Wigmore Hall, Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the English Concert around Europe, Istanbul and Japan and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall.

Her recording highlights include an excerpt from Carmen with Gerald Finley; the Missa Brevis in D and B flat by Mozart with St Albans Cathedral Choir under Andrew Lucas and one of the ‘converse’ in the EMI recording of Puccini’s Suor Angelica. Deborah sings regularly at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden as a member of the Extra Chorus, and has contributed to the soundtrack of many major films.

Her career as a vocal coach began when Stephen Jackson asked her to become the coach of the BBC Symphony Chorus; a position she held for 20 years. She subsequently coached many of the big London choirs, was Chorus Master for Chelsea Opera Group, Associate Chorus Master for the Philharmonia Chorus and now assists many choirs around the country and abroad. She conducts two choirs of her own: the prizewinning Imperial Male Voice Choir and Gloriana, a new female voice choir featured on Classic FM.


Crispin Lewis is the musical director of Choritalia. He founded Choritalia in partnership with Antonella Petrone in order to combine his passion for singing and choral music with his love of Italy: its culture, landscapes, food and history. Born in London, Crispin has a wealth of experience of directing choirs, currently regularly directing four choirs in the UK, including two choral societies, a semi-professional chamber choir, and a professional early music vocal ensemble.

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Originally trained as an early-music specialist at the Royal College of Music, he has directed his own vocal ensembles at major concert halls including Wigmore Hall, the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, South Bank Centre, Kings Place, St John’s Smith Square, and in many live broadcasts on BBC Radio 3. He has performed repertoire encompassing all the major choral works, and ranging from the medieval to many newly commissioned works. He is also a professional singer, appearing as soloist in opera and oratorio.


Administrative and events director

Antonella Petrone, the co-founder of Choritalia, is an Italian events manager who has lived in the UK for six years, and was born and lived in Italy for 25 years. She combines her experience of Italian culture with knowledge of the British lifestyle to create the perfect holiday experience for guests. Through her experience of organising special events, especially weddings and honeymoon holidays with her own events company ‘Italy Destination Weddings’, she takes huge satisfaction from creating the perfect holiday for all lovers of Italy and of music.