William Bell

Founder and Music Director

WILLIAM BELL has spent most of his existence involved in one musical dramatic production or another. Having pursued both muses at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, during which time he had his first taste of opera preparation, he emerged with the James Bridie Silver Medal and the Prize for Comedy. He worked in the professional theatre and for the BBC before embarking on a three-year alternative to national service, the last two years in NATO HQ in Germany where he had the opportunity to conduct operas by Sullivan and Mozart. After his service he became Head of Music and ultimately Expressive Arts at Deer Park School, Cirencester, where for 21 years he was responsible for annual musical productions. While there, he published the widely adopted Mr Bell's Jam Sessions, (designed to enable non-music-readers to take part in instrumental music-making), and was, concurrently, Music Director for three local opera companies, and for many G & S productions and musical comedies. In 1989, he founded Bel Canto Opera, for which he has also produced two operas. He has, to date, conducted over 500 performances in 116 different musical productions, his most recent being the Bel Canto production of Don Pasquale in Cheltenham, in February/March 2005. In 2005 the Cheltenham Arts Council awarded William Bell a citation for his many years of service to music.