Introducing Sidney's musical directors and teachers.

Dr David Skinner, Director of Music

Dr David Skinner, Director of Music

Dr David Skinner (DPhil, Oxon) is Fellow and Osborn Director of Music at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and artistic director of the early music ensemble Alamire ( His research has centred around music institutions, manuscripts and composers of 16th-century Europe, and is particular specialism is music and the Reformation in England. A large portion of his doctoral thesis was published in the Roxburghe Club volume The Arundel Choirbook (Arundel: Duke of Norfolk, 2003), and he has since published a number of music editions, facsimile volumes, and articles. as well as more than 30 commercial recordings (awards including Gramophone, BBC Music, Limelight, Times CD of the Year, and others). Dr Skinner’s recent publications include The Anne Boleyn Music Book: Facsimile with Introduction, DIAMM Facsimiles 6 (London: Royal College of Music, 2017), and ‘‘Deliuer me from my deceytful ennemies’: A Tallis Contrafactum in Time of War’, Early Music (Oxford University Press, 2017). The latter project, in which Queen Catherine Parr was identified as the author of a contrafact of Tallis’s grandest antiphon Gaude gloriosa dei mater, received wide media coverage including all major broadsheets, BBC 4 Today Programme and BBC Breakfast News. As a presenter he has worked extensively for BBC radio, appearing in and writing a variety of shows on Radio 3 and 4. He acted as music advisor for the Music and Monarchy series on BBC 2 with David Starkey, and was Music Consultant for the recent BBC4 documentary on the history of Evensong with Lucy Worsley. He is currently completing a new edition of Tallis’s Latin church music for Early English Church Music (Stainer & Bell).​

David is very happy to see choral and organ candidates at any time of the year. To arrange a visit to Sidney Sussex, please email

Ms Lynette Alcántara, Singing teacher 

Ms Lynette Alcántara, Singing teacher

Australian-born mezzo-soprano Lynette Alcántara teaches singing to the Choral Scholars at Sidney Sussex, Wolfson and Queens Colleges. She is a Fellow of Wolfson College and has been Director of Music there since 1998. She has been guest chorus master for the Cambridge Philharmonic Chorus and Saffron Walden Choral Society and for many years was vocal coach for the CU Symphony Chorus. Lynette has a thriving singing teaching practice in Cambridge with pupils regularly being awarded Choral Scholarships at Oxbridge and post-graduate places to music colleges around the world. For twelve years she taught singing to the trebles of the Choir of King’s College Cambridge, preparing soloists for recordings, services and concerts, including the annual BBC TV and radio broadcasts, and for Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Pupil successes include 2015/16 winner of BBC Radio 2 Young Girl Chorister of the Year, appearances on TV programme Grantchester, dueting with Rolando Villazon, and soloists at BBC Proms. Recent pupils have been awarded places at the Royal College of Music, National Opera Studio, Royal Academy of music and The Manhattan School of Music, and have gone on to work for Welsh National Opera, Voces 8, BBC Singers, Tenebrae, Alamire & Edvard Grieg Vokal Ensemble.

For twenty-five years Lynette sang as a staff alto with the BBC Singers and, when time allowed, as soloist and chorus member for other leading ensembles in Britain including The Monteverdi Choir, Opera Rara, Schűtz Choir, English National Opera, Opera North, The Bach Choir and The King’s Consort. She appeared regularly for BBC radio and TV, and frequently at the Royal Albert Hall and on the South Bank. Cambridge performances include regular song recitals with accompanists including Patrick Hemmerle, David Hill, Andrew Goldman, Stephen Betteridge, Fusae Takahashi and Douglas Hollick. Solos on disk include Shallow Brown on the Gramophone Award winning The Choral Music of Percy Grainger & Schubert’s Ständchen (both for Gardiner/Monteverdi Choir).

Lynette has led singing workshops for the BBC Singers, The King’s Singers, The Choir of King’s College Cambridge, Britten Sinfonia and Aldeburgh Music. She is particularly interested in voice science and its application to vocal pedagogy and is a member of the British Voice Association and Association of Teachers of Singing. For many years she lectured on Vocal Health and Pedagogy on the MMus in Choral Studies at the Faculty of Music at Cambridge University, also co-ordinating and leading the Vocal Pathway of the same course.

She has been teaching since her student days where she was awarded a Bachelor of Music Education with double Honours in Vocal Performance and Education at the University of Melbourne where she was also a Choral Scholar in Trinity Chapel Choir. After university she sang in the Chorus and Young Artists’ Encouragement Programme of the Victoria State Opera. Winning the national Liederfest Scholarship enabled her to travel to the UK to further her vocal studies, and she has remained in the UK since.

Lynette has stepped back from performing to teach and conduct. Between 2022-24 she was Director of the Song School at OLEM Catholic Church, and founded the children’s music charity KJV Community Children’s Choir, a hundred-voice Cambridge children’s choir which is free so that all children can experience choral singing regardless of their personal circumstances. The choir celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2023. With KJV she has worked with The King’s Singers, broadcast on Classic FM at Christmas, and conducted Friday Afternoons, part of the worldwide online schools’ project to celebrate Britten’s centenary. The choir has collaborated with Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, and performed at a recent fundraiser for a new children’s hospital in Cambridge.


Nicholas Hurndall Smith, Singing teacher

Nicholas Hurndall Smith, Singing teacher

Nicholas Hurndall Smith read Music at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was organ scholar, and then went on to study with David Pollard on the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Opera Course, supported by The Leverhulme Trust, The Worshipful Company of Salters and The Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipemakers and Tobacco Blenders.

He began his career with a Rodney Milnes review in Opera Magazine: “The tenor Nicholas Smith shone especially brightly, a most accomplished actor as well as an inventive singer” and he has since been described as “Wonderfully manic” in London’s Metro and the Times wrote of “The delightful cameo of Nicholas Smith’s servant Arv”. Other roles include Lurcanio, Snout and Don Curzio for English Touring Opera, Flute and Tamino for Longborough Festival Opera, McHeath and Flute for Opera Project, Ecclitico, Sellem and Normanno at Iford Arts and Lysander for British Youth Opera.

Of his concert work the Daily Telegraph wrote “A refreshingly mellow tenor” and the Financial Times of his “Rapt and devout delivery”, and he has sung the arias in Bach’s St John Passion at the London Handel Festival, Bach Cantatas 63 and 65 with the Academy of Ancient Music, Schubert’s Winterreise at St. Marien Spandau, Berlin, the title role in Carissimi’s Jonah in the BBC Proms, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Kristiansund, and the Evangelist in Bach’s St John Passion in Jever. He recently sang the role of Coridon in Handel’s Acis and Galatea with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players in Vienna, Strasbourg and at the Wigmore Hall. He is in demand as a Britten soloist and has sung St Nicolas with the London Mozart Players, the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the Haffner Orchestra, the Spring Symphony (c. Paul Spicer) at the Mary Wakefield Festival and the War Requiem with the combined choral societies of Cumbria.

He is a member of the highly acclaimed solo-voice ensemble I Fagiolini, with whom he has appeared throughout Europe, America, South Africa and the Far East as well as regularly on BBC Radio 3. His recording of Acis and Galatea in the role of Coridon with the Dunedin Consort was recently selected as First Choice Recommendation by Radio 3’s Building a Library.

Nicholas’ teaching is informed by his enthusiasm for the contrasting aspects of singing both sacred and secular music, both on the concert platform and on the operatic stage. He has a special passion for the music of Monteverdi which he has developed over the years singing with I Fagiolini both in concert and in their regular releases on Chandos.