Stephen Layton, Fellow and Director of Music at Trinity, has been made an Honorary Doctor of Music at the University of Derby.
He received the honour from the Chancellor of the University of Derby on 16 November in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the performance and recording of choral music and his championing of church music.
Stephen Layton was born in Derby and attended Ravensdale Junior School where there were many opportunities to sing and play in classical music ensembles.
His singing voice apparent, aged nine, Stephen went to school in Winchester and began singing daily at Winchester Cathedral before winning a full fee music scholarship to Eton. He was elected to be the organ scholar at King’s College Cambridge and while a student founded the mixed-voice choir Polyphony, which went on to critical acclaim.
Stephen Layton remains Director of Polyphony, as well as Music Director of the Holst Singers, alongside his role at Trinity. He is regularly invited to work with the world’s leading choirs, orchestras, and composers. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020, he was awarded an MBE for services to classical music.
Stephen Layton said:
I am moved to receive this honour from the University of Derby, given all that my music owes to the place and people of Derby. I grew up on the Sunnyhill estate in Littleover and would visit my grandparents on Victory Road. Two very different churches had a profound musical influence on me – Elim Pentecostal Church on Curzon Street, and St Johns Church in Bridge Street where David Johnson, the organist, guided me.
The inspirational headmaster of Ravensdale Junior School, the musician Wilfred Warren, filled that school daily with classical music.
My parents gave me an abiding love of the Derbyshire dales which we would often visit, passing Wiggleys Shoe Shop in Ashbourne, where my grandfather was the cobbler. I will treasure this award from the University of Derby as a reminder of all that Derby and Derbyshire gave me.