March 14, 2017


The Choir’s Assistant Artistic Director and Accompanist, Ben Costello, knows what it takes to be a winning choir


“How did it sound, Ben?”

Choir director John Bate asks rehearsal accompanist Benjamin Costello for feedback on the Kyrie from Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, part of the Choir’s programme at Cadogan Hall on 1st April.

“Not bad,” says Ben, “there needs to be more swell and expression on certain key phrases.”

Ben’s perspective is particularly valuable to the Choir as he is an experienced judge of musical performance. As an adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Festivals (BIFF), he assesses performances by amateur choirs at festivals all over the world, guiding them ‘towards professional execution of their disciplines.’  

Not a reality TV show!
“My students think my adjudication is like being part of a reality TV show panel like X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing,” says Ben, “ But it isn’t at all like that: the adjudicators give constructive feedback to the performers - we want them to feel motivated.”


“ It takes only one singer in a hundred who’s not engaged in a performance to pull focus from everyone else. A fault like this is one of my major gripes with choirs. Every single member of a choir must be vividly communicating and physically engaged with the music.” – Ben Costello, adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Festivals

BIFF aims to “ raise the standards of amateur performers”, leaving them with “a clear assessment of their performance and a great sense of achievement.”
“It isn’t just about winning,” adds Ben. “Our feedback helps the performers to progress positively with their learning and performing, and to increase their confidence. I wouldn’t just tell a choir that it was singing out of tune, for example, I would also suggest causes and possible solutions.”
Festival adjudicators are rigorously selected for knowledge and experience in their particular fields - Ben is an accomplished pianist, singing coach and musical director. BIFF appointed him in 2009 to judge singing and piano, but he now covers all performing arts categories covered by the festivals. “A skilled adjudicator,” states BIFF, “must be able to inspire greater appreciation – by both performer and audience - of the work being performed.”


"We look for quality of performance, presentation and communication"

A winning choir…

Is completely on top of what it is singing, so that it ‘lifts the music off the page’
It persuasively communicates the mood of the music and demonstrates a clear response to and understanding of the composer’s work
It has an unobtrusive, technical command of the music and a good sense of style and expression

- Ben Costello, adjudicator for the British & International Federation of Festivals


Thames Philharmonic Choir will be performing Sancta Civitas by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Puccini’s Messa di Gloria at Cadogan Hall on 1 April. BOOK NOW

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