Olivia Sparkhall studied composition at school with Derek Bourgeois and at Durham University with Paul Archbold, composing for the Northern Sinfonietta and the Flower Quartet as part of her studies. Since moving to South West England, she has focused primarily on writing vocal music, notably for her choir to sing on the BBC One’s Songs of Praise programme. Recent commissions have been for International Women’s Day services in 2018 (Lux Aeterna) and 2019 (Faith and Hope). She was short-listed in the Cappella Nova competition in 2018 for Dona Nobis Pacem. Gabriel’s Message (2018) received its premiere (in the version with piano accompaniment) in Southwark Cathedral and (in the version with harp accompaniment) in Salisbury Cathedral. Olivia has written various pieces for chamber ensemble, both for professional groups and for children. These range from wind quintets and percussion pieces to the multi-violin arrangement, Jingle All The Way. Her music can be viewed and purchased here.
2018 Gabriel's Message for SSA & harp (premiered at Salisbury Cathedral)
2018 Gabriel's Message version for SSA & piano (premiered at Southwark Cathedral)
2018 Jingle all the way for four violins & piano (with optional sleigh bells)
2019 Faith and hope for congregational use (commissioned by Multitude of Voyces)
2019 Crucifixus for SATB
2019 Che si puo fare? Barbara Strozzi ed. Sparkhall for SSA & piano
2019 St Paul's Benediction Amy Beach ed. Sparkhall for SS & piano
2019 Ave Maria Clara Schumann ed. Sparkhall for SA & piano
2019 Mass for unison voices & piano/organ
2020 Begin And Never Cease
Olivia was educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School, then at Durham and Cambridge Universities, conducting the Hatfield Chamber Orchestra (Durham) and Addenbrooke’s Hospital Choir (Cambridge). She was awarded a Choral Scholarship at Peterhouse Chapel Choir, Cambridge, having sung with Hatfield College Chapel Choir whilst at Durham. After moving to the South West, she spent five years conducting the choir of St Mary’s Church Fordingbridge before founding the Avon Valley Youth Choir which provides opportunities for talented local singers whilst raising funds for local charities.
At Godolphin School, Olivia directs Godolphin Voices, Godolphin Vocal Ensemble and the Senior String Ensemble. In Salisbury Cathedral, Olivia conducted a 400-strong choir of local school-children at the Barnardo’s Young Supporters’ Concerts 2012 and 2013. In 2014 she conducted a massed children’s choir in the orchestra-accompanied Folk Songs of the Four Seasons by Vaughan Williams. Olivia now works for the Barnardo's Young Supporters' Concerts in London, conducting massed choirs of over 500 school-children in the Barbican Hall in June 2018, and in Central Hall, Westminster in June 2019.
She has taken Godolphin Vocal Ensemble to sing at a variety of prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Hall, Royal Festival Hall, St John’s Smith Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, St Paul's Covent Garden, Oriel College Oxford, Sheffield City Hall, Albert Hall Nottingham and the Lowry Theatre at BBC Media City in Salford. Under Olivia’s direction, Vocal Ensemble has appeared on the BBC Songs of Praise competition in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018, receiving the runners-up trophy in 2012. The choir won the Barnardo’s National Choral Competition in 2011 and 2015.
In 2016, Vocal Ensemble was invited to sing for the Barnardo’s 150th Anniversary service in St Paul’s Cathedral which attracted attention from the national press. The choir is currently commissioning a cycle of four songs for SSA and harp to the words of Julian of Norwich. In 2017 ‘All Shall Be Well’ by Carol J Jones, in 2018 'Our Endless Day' by Hilary Campbell, and in 2019 'Love was his meaning' by Gemma McGregor. In 2020 the composer will be Master of the Queen's Music, Judith Weir.
Chamber Music Coaching
Cello (Children and Adults)
An experienced GCSE and A level music teacher, Olivia has written many resources for the teaching of composition and the written/listening papers which can be viewed here. She also produces resources for choir-training, specialising in the training of KS2-3 (ages 8-14) choirs.