Sudden death of college music director, aged 50

Sudden death of college music director, aged 50


norman lebrecht

October 29, 2014

We regret to report the sudden death of David Trendell, director of music at Kings College London and a widely respected scholar, performer and broadcaster.

This message has just gone up on the college board:

david trendell



I am very sorry to inform you about the sudden death of David Trendell, who held a joint post within the Dean’s Office as College Organist and Director of Music for the Chapel Choir and as Senior Lecturer in the Music Department within Arts and Humanities.  We do not have full details, but that it appears that he died in his sleep at home during Monday night/Tuesday morning, having conducted the Chapel Choir rehearsal on Monday evening.  It is typical of David that his last act should have been part of his life-long desire to pass on his extraordinary musical ability to younger generations.  We cannot even begin to imagine how much he will be missed by so many around the community of King’s College London, especially the Chapel Choir and Chaplaincy as well as his colleagues and students in the Music Department,  not to mention all his wider links across the College and our alumni  through special services, choir tours and broadcasts.


I have spoken personally with his family, but as yet we have no details about funeral arrangements, although we anticipate that it is likely that there will be a Memorial Service in the College Chapel in due course. In the meantime, we have placed a framed photograph of David in front of the altar in Chapel  where there are also candles for people to light. All are welcome to visit Chapel to remember David or pay your respects.  He will be remembered, and greatly missed, at our lunchtime Communion Service today, where members of the Choir are likely to still want to sing; all welcome.

King’s College Chaplaincy

K2.34 King’s Building

One of his singers writes: I had the privilege of singing with him on a couple of occasions, and found him not only to be an excellent scholar and conductor, but great fun on stage/in church and in the inevitable trips to the pub after gigs.

UPDATE: Telegraph obituary here.


  • Adrian Lucas says:

    What very sad news indeed. A great musical talent to be lost at such an early age. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

  • Steven Rhodes says:

    David will be greatly missed by generations of King’s men and women, scholars and collaborators and far, far wider by the listening public. He brought technical skill and great energy to his performances which were informed by his considerable scholarship, especially in the works of his beloved William Byrd. The standing of the King’s London choir which he leaves behind pays testament to the attention he gave to each singer under his direction matched with a bonhomie and world-class social stamina that impressed students half his age. Greater testament is the affection in which his memory will be held by generations of his choristers.

  • Mark Kemball says:

    It was a pleasure to see David in Portland, Oregon, at the annual William Byrd Festival. He will be very much missed.

  • Ross Cobb says:

    So sad- I arrived at King’s as organ scholar at the same time as Trixie, and spent four wonderful years as his assistant. A very kind man and extraordinary musician.

  • Robert P Morrison says:

    I have appreciated greatly David’s wisdom, skill, dedication and humour in our interactions at The Byrd Festival in Oregon and am deeply saddened to hear of his death. We will remember him in our All Saints’ and All Souls’ liturgies this weekend. May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace!

  • Giampiero Innocente says:

    Dear David,
    We met on a tour in 2011 and I was waiting for the next year with your King’s College London Choir.
    The news of your death breaks the music, makes it silence, emptiness, despair.
    I cry along with many friends here in Italy we have known and appreciated you.
    I know that now you are before God to sing that memorable Miserere: “Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will sing your praise”, “Domine aperies labias meas et os meos annuntiabit laudem tuam”
    Rest in peace David!

    Giampiero, director of Collegium Vocale di Crema and University Choir, Università Cattolica di Milano

  • Drew Hope says:

    I am deeply saddened by the death of Trixie. It was my great pleasure to sing under his direction at Barts and Bourne St, and his influence on my contemporaries and me will be testament to his unfailing and infectious enthusiasm.

  • Margot Krebs Neale says:

    The memories of David that have been with me today are, his kindness and attention when I felt a bit unsure among a group of young Oxford students, all male. His cheerfulness, the way he arrived opposite my parents’ house in Brittany on the town bus after what was a complicated journey that all our guest ended at the station 14 km away, as if he had made that trip many times. His singing at the wedding, ready to make a small adjustment to the words of A marriage Ode by John Blow should one of our friend be there because we all knew how communicative this friend’s laugh was. And his singing at our eldest son’s christening, First O viridissima virga, with a voice broken from cold and then an Easter vigil, from the dark baptistery into the light chapel of Westminster Cathedral each of us holding a candle. May the memory of that Easter vigil be my parting farewell to him. From darkness to light.

  • Tim Veater says:

    The singer’s song is done. The music carries on.

  • Joseph says:

    For three years at King’s I have studied with David… He taught me how to write fugues in the techniques of composition tutorials; I attended his lectures on 16th c scared polyphony and witnessed his passion in analysing all the beautiful choral music; he granted me a discretionary audition to the Advanced Performance Study module because he thought my piano playing was better than my essay writing… He was also my personal tutor and I can still remember the first time I went in to his office – the smell of book and coffee – and he patiently listened to me and guided throughout my three years at King’s. I didn’t like King’s that much… but the time I spent with David is something I definitely miss. He was the most gentle, patient tutor, and such a talented musician and choral conductor.
    It’s just too sudden for me. Wish I could go back in time and be a better student… or at least express to David how grateful I am to have met such a great teacher like him.

  • J says:

    I sang for Trixie for four years at KCL. He was a wonderful conductor and a very nice man. He never let us sing at anything but the highest level we were capable of, and his dedication to the choir shows through in the recordings we made. The news of his death was such a shock, and he will be greatly missed. There is a small memorial to him in the KCL chapel at the moment, and a proper memorial service will be organised in due course.

  • Maggie Atterbury says:

    I only knew David as Director of the Nave Choir during the Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy and as Director of Music at St Bartholomew the Great but his knowledge and passion for choral music and his warmth of personality left a lasting impression. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

  • Corinne Orde says:

    I too was shocked to learn of his death (via Facebook). I knew him best as a colleague and fellow singer back in the mid-1990s. At that time, he seemed oblivious to the fact that his bass voice was of an exceptional quality, being unusually rich and powerful. His many talents subsequently led him in other directions, but I am sure he would have become a world-class opera singer had he chosen to pursue a career in that field.