John Poole began to conduct choirs and orchestras while an undergraduate at Oxford and gained further experience directing concerts when he became organist of London University Church and Musical Director at University College, London. He founded the Bloomsbury Singers and Players and regularly conducted choral-orchestral concerts at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury, where he first came to the attention of the B.B.C. conducting orchestras such as the Orchestra of the Light Music Society and the London Studio Players, and the (as then) B.B.C. Chorus.
In 1968 he became conductor of the B.B.C. Symphony Chorus and conducted his first Prom in 1973. In 1972 he became Director of the B.B.C. Singers, a post he held until 1989. Under his direction the Singers earned their reputation as one of today’s premier professional choirs. John has conducted the B.B.C. Symphony Chorus and particularly the Singers in hundreds of broadcasts of music of all periods, including many first performances and British premières. He has conducted concerts by the Singers at the Proms (in both a cappella works and with orchestra), at London’s South Bank, Barbican and St John’s Smith Square, at major British and overseas Festivals and on tour throughout North and South America, Europe, Israel and the Gulf States.
From 1990 John Poole was for three years Chief Guest Conductor of the Singers and now still maintains a link with the BBC as Guest Conductor of the Singers.
Groupe Vocal de France
From 1990-95, John Poole was Music Director of the Groupe Vocal de France which specialised in contemporary repertoire and gave concerts regularly in Paris, throughout France and internationally. With members of the Groupe Vocal, he organised and directed highly successful summer schools for conductors and singers in France.
Throughout his career he has been engaged as a guest conductor by major choirs and orchestras in Europe, Scandinavia and as far afield as New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. He is a committed advocate of new music involved in commissioning works from established composers as well as promising younger ones. He has a special interest in working with singers, conductors and composers and has regular contact with young people through courses and master classes.
In 1996 he founded the Acadèmie Internationale in Parthenay, France which is a workshop designed for singers and professional conductors and has included commissioned works from composers such as Giles Swayne, Carl Rütti and Olivier Greif.
During this period he worked from his homes in the U.S. and France and undertook concert and recording engagements with choirs and orchestras in many countries.
In August 2001, John Poole joined the conducting staff in the School of Music at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, USA, where he conducted the American première of Sven-David Sandström's High Mass in November 2001.
In 2004 John conducted his 70th birthday concert in St. Paul's church, Knightsbridge with the BBC Singers in a programme which included the London Premiere of Giles Swayne's Stabat Mater.
In May 2005 Triton Records (see Links) launched John's recording of Olivier Greif's Requiem with the BBC Singers. He premiered this work in 2001 and gave the US premiere in 2004. In 2005 he gave the US premiere of Swayne's Stabat Mater.
In February 2006 John conducted performances of Mozart's Requiem for the American Mozart Society in Bloomington and in Chicago for the American Choral Directors Association.
In June and July 2006 he directed performances and workshops of Mozart's choral and orchestral music in Vienna (see Links).
In 2009 he retired to France, where he still lives.