Choir profiles

Andrew Sims

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Voice: Director

Nationality: British

Occupation: Interpreter

Joined: 1999

Favourite performance: So many - perhaps singing late on a summer evening in a ruined monastery at the top of a mountain on the German-Polish-Czech border

Started singing: I was desperate to join the village church choir when I was seven, and haven't stopped singing since then.

Favourite music: B minor mass, Tristan und Isolde

Hobbies: Cycling, swimming, (directing choirs!)

Gabriele Rink

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Voice: Mezzo-soprano

Nationality: German

Occupation: Teacher

Joined: 2016

Favourite performance: Singing in Kreuzberg Kunstraum Bethanien (the project about the human shields in Iraq)

Started singing: When I was eleven

Favourite music: Gustav Mahler

Hobbies: Singing, reading, gardening, travelling

Katie Griggs

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Voice: Alto (except for the occasional descant at Christmas)

Nationality: British but with a German passport

Occupation: Director of accommodation for especially vulnerable refugees from all over the world

Joined: 2007 (I think)

Favourite performance: Singing in the Wintergarten (accompanying acrobats and exotic dancers)

Started singing: my first singing memory is aged three, singing and dancing to Barbara Dickson! I enjoyed singing in primary school and won the Radio Kent search for a star talent contest aged eleven.

Favourite music: West End musicals

Hobbies: Singing and socialising with my choir buddies, obviously. I also enjoy fundraising for a family I support in Afghanistan. And I love cycling too, especially on bike paths around Brandenburg lakes and forests in the sunshine.

Roland Willareth

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Voice: Tenor

Nationality: German

Occupation: Retired teacher

Joined: 2014

Favourite performance: "Night songs" in the Tieranatomisches Theater, March 2016

Started singing: When I was ten

Favourite music: Currently Herbert Howells (Nunc Dimittis) and Thomas Tomkins (When David Heard)

Hobbies: Music, philosophy, photography

James Denman

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Voice: Bass / baritone

Nationality: UK, German

Occupation: Finance manager

Joined: 2016

Favourite performance: Tieranatomisches Theater with Ēriks Ešenvalds’ Stars

Started singing: Morning chapel hymns at school, occasional choirs in adulthood, more properly with the Embassy Singers

Favourite music: Bach St. Matthew Passion, Mass in B minor; Monteverdi Vespers; Rachmaninov Vespers

Hobbies: Running, cycling, climate, sailing, languages

Rhian Chilcott

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Voice: Alto

Nationality: UK / German

Occupation: Government relations advisor

Joined: 2023, when I moved to Berlin

Favourite performance: I’m a sucker for Christmas carols, so the performance in the Frauenkirche, Dresden, last December.

Started singing: With my mother – always. In a choir, at the age of twelve

Favourite music: Eclectic, and always happy to be introduced to something new

Hobbies: Talking politics and baking cakes

Neil Whitton

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Voice: Tenor

Nationality: Scottish and German

Occupation: Retired scientist

Joined: 2014

Favourite performance: Lunchtime carols at the British Embassy

Started singing: In the church choir, aged six

Favourite music: Goldberg variations

Hobbies: Food and wine

Andrea Zielinski

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Voice: Mezzosoprano

Nationality: German

Occupation: Research and teaching, mediator

Joined: 2023

Favourite performance: Carols in the Frauenkirche in Dresden

Started singing: When I was four

Favourite music: Chamber music and madrigals

Hobbies: Singing with friends

Monika Kneifel-Grobler

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Voice: Alto

Nationality: German

Occupation: Drama teacher

Joined: 2010

Favourite performance: I love singing in the Marienkirche in Berlin.

Started singing: I started singing in a group when I was at school in year nine.

Favourite music: Peter Fox, Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush

Hobbies: Contemporary theatre, yoga, listening to plays on BBC radio

Ann Cartwright

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Voice: Soprano

Nationality: UK / Scottish / German

Occupation: Retired business consultant and former chief executive

Joined: 2010

Favourite performance: Singing in British Embassy for the Royal Wedding on 29 April 2011 (it was also my wedding anniversary that day)

Started singing: About nine years old - I sang "Beautiful Dreamer" in a school concert.

Favourite music: Most types and styles

Hobbies: Reading, cooking, knitting, swimming

Ulla Matussek

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Voice: Soprano

Nationality: German

Occupation: Artist

Joined: 2013

Favourite performance: Carols in the Frauenkirche in 2015 (or was it 2016?), also (James is right) one of the Tieranatomisches Theater concerts

Started singing: When I was five, with serious voice training from the age of 54 (N.Y. Julliard evening division)

Favourite music: Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Purcell, Strauss, Weil

Hobbies: Accompanying myself on the piano singing 1920s music, gardening

Phoebe Blackburn

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Voice: Soprano

Nationality: UK and French

Occupation: Circular economy and communications

Joined: 2020

Favourite performance: Berlin variety show in 2024, with pop-up Zadok The Priest in the audience

Started singing: When I was 6, in my Parisian primary school, where I was a lone tall alto with the boys

Favourite music: Queen, Chava Alberstein, Mozart’s operas, Pink Martini, swing or poppy music to dance to

Hobbies: Photographing dustbins, new words, exploring cities, art museums, cycling and hiking

Ellen Löhr

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Voice: Mezzosoprano

Nationality: German

Occupation: Manager of sheltered accommodation

Joined: 2009

Favourite performance: The Abba concert

Started singing: With my family when I was tiny; in a choir when I was ten

Favourite music: Renaissance

Hobbies: Piano, gardening, reading

Alison Hulstine

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Voice: 2nd alto

Nationality: British

Occupation: U.S. Embassy Berlin

Joined: 1999

Favourite performance: The weekend in Liverpool Cathedral and all of the Christmas services in the Frauenkirche in Dresden

Started singing: I can't remember a time when I didn't sing!

Favourite music: Generally non-classical

Hobbies: Singing (including karaoke), travel, meeting up with friends, reading

Ankitha Sarvesh

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Voice: Soprano

Nationality: American

Occupation: Commercial Manager at a biotech startup

Joined: 2022

Favourite performance: King Charles III Coronation performance

Started singing: When I was five

Favourite music: Rock

Hobbies: Swimming, painting, baking, writing, watching and reviewing movies

Caroline du Vinage

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Voice: Soprano

Nationality: German

Occupation: Judge

Joined: 2002

Favourite performance: From many wonderful events I have chosen: the planting of an oak tree in Tiergarten and singing evensong in Hereford Cathedral.

Started singing: When I was a child

Favourite music: Dido and Aeneas and Schubert String Quintet

Hobbies: Playing cello in a symphonic orchestra, travelling, cycling