In 2020 Peter Giles retired from his several positions with the Society – Trustee, Council member, and Better Voice Course Consultant – after working for nearly forty years to further the Society’s aim of spreading the word about White’s Technique.
Peter became a pupil of the late Arthur Hewlett (who himself had been a pupil of E.G. White) in the early 1980s, when he was Senior Lay-Clerk at Canterbury Cathedral, a solo singer in the UK and abroad, and a founder member of the male trio Canterbury Clerkes. He immediately recognized the value of White’s Technique to both himself and others, and soon went on to become a Registered Teacher of the Technique.
Since then, Peter has taught the Technique to an enormous number of private pupils who came to him with requests that ranged from wanting to become a professional singer, through needing to restore a voice damaged by poor vocal technique or to improve a speaking voice that was preventing its owner from achieving professional success, to wanting better breath control when playing the saxophone. His testimonials file is evidence of how he and White’s Technique succeeded in helping all these varied pupils.
He served on the Society’s governing Council for 33 years, for nearly all that time in the post of Registrar, and became a Trustee in 2001. He was very involved from the start in the Better Voice project, as both a member of the overseeing subcommittee and Course Consultant.
During his time on the Council Peter organised recitals and masterclasses at Society meetings, contributing both as a teacher and performer, and held workshops on voice both in this country and abroad. He has also always included aspects of White’s Technique when directing his vocal quartet Quodlibet, three of whose original members were his singing pupils.
In 2001 Peter obtained his PhD for published works on the male high voice – a subject on which he is an acknowledged expert. His The History and Technique of the Counter-Tenor (Scolar Press/Ashgate, 1994) is a uniquely comprehensive survey of the countertenor, while A Basic Countertenor Method: For Teacher and Student (revised edition: Kahn & Averill, 2005) is
a complete manual for the teacher and the would-be countertenor, based on the principles of White’s Technique. He always tries to include aspects of the Technique in his writings, even when this is not the main emphasis – as in Les Contre-ténors: Mythes et Réalitiés, a short introduction to the countertenor voice together with accompanying CDs that he produced for Harmonia Mundi (1999).
The Society has benefited hugely from Peter’s extensive knowledge of the voice and his enthusiasm for White’s Technique, and we wish him a happy and productive retirement.