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Joanna Forbes L'Estrange (musician)

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Joanna Forbes L'Estrange (born 5 December 1971) is a British singer,.[1] composer[2] and choir director[3]. She is the granddaughter of the Scottish viola player and arranger Watson Forbes[4] and daughter of the composer and emeritus university music professor Sebastian Forbes[5], both of whom are listed in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians[6][7]. She is married to the composer, arranger and jazz multi-instrumentalist Alexander L'Estrange[8][circular reference]; they have two sons, Toby L'Estrange (b.2006)[9] and Harry L'Estrange (b.2008)[10].

Joanna Forbes L'Estrange
Birth nameJoanna Lucy Forbes
Born (1971-12-05) 5 December 1971 (age 52)
GenresA cappella, classical, jazz, choral, contemporary, film
InstrumentsSoprano, Composer, Conducting
Years active1997–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life and Education[edit]

Born Joanna Lucy Forbes in Bangor, North Wales, she grew up in Surrey, attending The Winston Churchill School, Woking and Woking College. She was a chorister in the parish church choir of Bisley and West End, Surrey, and achieved ABRSM Grade 8 (distinction) on the piano and cello. She read Music at Oxford University (Hertford College), gaining a Master of Arts degree, and qualified as secondary music teacher with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Reading University. She trained as a classical Soprano with the Canadian-born opera singer Dr Margaret Lobo[11]. The late Ward Swingle, founder of The Swingle Singers, was her mentor in jazz style and vocal arranging.[12]


Joanna Forbes L’Estrange's career began with the A cappella vocal group The Swingle Singers[13] as soprano and Musical Director. From 1998 until 2004 she led the group in concerts in North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Australasia. She appeared in three contemporary operas at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, and at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. She worked with musicians including the late Ward Swingle and Maestro Luciano Berio, whose orchestral work Sinfonia (Berio) she performs with orchestras worldwide.[14]

As a soloist, she specialises in contemporary crossover music including Mass in Blue by Will Todd (recorded in 2019 for Convivium Records)[15] and Sacred Concert (Ellington). She sings jazz with L’Estranges in the Night,[16] the duo she co-founded with Alexander L'Estrange.

As an ensemble singer, she sings with London-based, professional vocal ensembles including London Voices - directed by Ben Parry (musician), Tonus Peregrinus (vocal ensemble) - directed by Antony Pitts[17] and Synergy Vocals - directed by Micaela Haslam, performing Minimal music by Steve Reich and John Adams (composer)[18]. She has recorded over twenty CDs with Tenebrae (choir), directed by Nigel Short (singer).[19] She records film soundtrack[20] at London’s Abbey Road Studios. Her voice features on the soundtrack to the Wes Anderson 2021 film The French Dispatch in a duet with Jarvis Cocker.[21]


Joanna Forbes L’Estrange is "one of the Royal School of Church Music’s best-selling composers"[22]. She was commissioned to compose an anthem to mark the coronation of King Charles III in May 2023.[23] The mountains shall bring peace, a setting of Psalm 72, was performed by choirs across the UK.[24]

Works: Sacred choral[edit]

Advent 'O' Carol - recorded by Tenebrae (choir) In Winter’s House[25] (Signum Records) and the Choir of St Catharine's College, Cambridge[26]; Amazing Grace - recorded by The Swingle Singers[27]; Carol of the Crib - with words by Timothy Dudley-Smith[28]; Faith, Hope & Love[29]; For the Beauty of the Earth; Give us Grace (A Prayer of Jane Austen)[30] - commissioned by Aurora Nova; God the Holy Trinity - commissioned by the Royal School of Church Music; Go Forth in Peace[31]; High as the Heavens[32] - commissioned by Francis Holland School; In the Bleak Midwinter[33]; I will hold Him[34]; Jesus Christ is Born Today - with words by Timothy Dudley-Smith; King’s College Service (Canticles)[35] - commissioned by King's Voices and recorded by the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge; Let My Prayer Come Up; Preces and Responses[36]; Psalm 135[37]; Saint Richard's Prayer[38]; Song of the Shepherds[39]; The Chorister’s Prayer[40] - commissioned by the Royal School of Church Music; The Lord's Prayer[41]; The mountains shall bring peace[42] - commissioned for the Coronation of the British monarch; The St Helen's Service (Congregational communion setting)[43]; The Three Wise Women[44] - commissioned by St Swithun's School, Winchester; The Twyford Carols[45] - commissioned by Twyford School; Words from the Cross[46]

Works: Songs about gender equality[edit]

Songs include A place for us maids - commissioned by members of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge to mark the 40th anniversary of female undergraduates at the college[47]; A woman (wearing bloomers) on a wheel - recorded and made into a film by the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Girls' Choirs[48]; Suffragette March[49]; Twenty-first-century Woman[50] - inspired by Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globe Awards acceptance speech, recorded as a Charity record in 2018 at Abbey Road Studios and released on International Women's Day 2019. The single made history by being the first recording session to have taken place at Abbey Road Studios for which the singers, band, engineering crew, producer, conductor and composer were all women[51]. The music video features cameos from Joanna Lumley, Ruby Wax and Prue Leith.

Works: Secular choral and songs[edit]

Byrd Song - to mark the 400th anniversary in 2023 of the death of William Byrd; Freedom! The Power of Song[52] - commissioned by Salisbury Community Choir; Friends Apart and True - composed in collaboration with Rebecca Watts; Gratias Agimus pro Cibo - composed for Churchill College, Cambridge[53]; Green Christmas; Green Love! Songs to save the world - commissioned by United Learning[54]; Quintessentially[55] - commissioned by The King's Singers; Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?[56] - commissioned and recorded by The Oriel Singers; Sing, Sing, Sing! - commissioned by Scunthorpe Co-operative Junior Choir; Spring will come again - from Wassail! Carols of Comfort and Joy, co-composed with Alexander L'Estrange; There will always be music - commissioned by the Federation of British International Schools in Asia; We will remember them - commissioned and recorded by the Military Wives for the Remember album[57]; Winter Songs - commissioned by Finchley Children's Music Group[58]; You can sing…but can you swing?![59]- a set of choral jazz warm-ups published by Faber Music.

Works: Production music[edit]

Forbes L’Estrange co-composed the album Vintage Vocal Swing[60] recorded at Abbey Road Studios for the production music company Audio Network; the track You Are was used in Episode 1 of Series 2 of the TV series Fleabag[61], written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Forbes L’Estrange's arrangement for A cappella octet of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was used in the pilot episode of Glee (TV series).

Choir Director[edit]

1998 to 2004 - Joanna Forbes L’Estrange was Musical Director of The Swingle Singers; 2001 - she conducted The Swingle Singers at the American Choral Directors Association in St Antonio, Texas; 2005 - she first presented her choral jazz workshop You can sing…but can you swing? for the Association of British Choral Directors and has since coached hundreds of choirs around the world, including the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, in the art of singing in non-classical styles; 2010 onwards - she conducted the choirs for CD recordings of choral works by Alexander L'Estrange; 2012 - she became a Patron of The Voice Festival UK; 2014-15 - she was a guest conductor for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Girls' Choir; 2017 - she appeared as a judge for the Sky1 television series Sing: Ultimate A Cappella presented by Cat Deeley; 2017 - she was invited by Andrew Nethsingha to form a women's choir at St John's College, Cambridge; 2018 - she made history at Abbey Road Studios by conducting its first ever all-female recording session[62]; 2018-2022 - she founded and directed AQUILA, the all-female vocal group based at St John's College, Cambridge[63]; 2020-22 - during the COVID-19 pandemic she conducted the Virtual choir Choir of the Earth[64]; 2023 - she conducted the first recording of her coronation anthem The mountains shall bring peace.[65]

External links[edit]


This article "Joanna Forbes L'Estrange (musician)" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Joanna Forbes L'Estrange (musician). Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

  1. "Singer". IMdb.
  2. "Composer". RSCM.
  3. "Choir Director" Check |url= value (help). YouTube.
  4. "Strings to my Bow by Watson Forbes". Amazon.
  5. "Daughter of Sebastian Forbes". Bach Cantatas.
  6. "Watson Forbes". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music.
  7. "Sebastian Forbes". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music.
  8. "Alexander L'Estrange". Wikipedia.
  9. "Toby L'Estrange speed-reader". Evening Standard.
  10. "Harry L'Estrange CSA composing competition winner". Choir Schools Association.
  11. "Dr Margaret Lobo". The Otakar Kraus Music Trust.
  12. "Swingle Singing by Ward Swingle". SheetMusicPlus.
  13. "Swingle Singers Gallery". Jazz History Online. March 5, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  14. "Berio Sinfonia". Joanna Forbes L'Estrange.
  15. "Will Todd Mass in Blue". Convivium Records. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  16. "L'Estranges in the Night". Pizza Express Live. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  17. "Vinum et musica". Tonus Peregrinus.
  18. "Synergy Vocals John Adams Grand Pianola Music recording". MusicWeb International.
  19. "Joanna Forbes L'Estrange discography". Joanna Forbes L'Estrange.
  20. "IMdb Joanna Forbes L'Estrange soundtracks". IMdb.
  21. "The French Dispatch soundtrack". Joanna Forbes L'Estrange/vocals-for-film.
  22. "RSCM best-selling composers". RSCM.
  23. "Rhinegold Publications". Rhinegold.
  24. "".
  25. "Tenebrae Choir". Tenebrae Choir.
  26. "St Catharine's College, Cambridge". St Catharine's College, Cambridge.
  27. "Amazing Grace". Hyperion Records.
  28. "Carol of the Crib". GIA Publications.
  29. "Faith, Hope and Love". RSCM Music Direct.
  30. "Give Us Grace". Groth Music.
  31. "Go Forth in Peace". RSCM Music Direct.
  32. "High as the Heavens". What's On Edinburgh.
  33. "In the Bleak Midwinter, setting by Joanna Forbes L'Estrange". GIA Publications.
  34. "I will hold Him". RSCM Music Direct.
  35. "King's College Service". Forwoods Score Store.
  36. "Preces and Responses". RSCM Music Direct.
  37. "Psalm 135". RSCM Music Direct.
  38. "Saint Richard's Prayer". RSCM Music Direct.
  39. "Song of the shepherds". GIA Publications.
  40. "The Chorister's Prayer". RSCM Music Direct.
  41. "The Lord's Prayer". RSCM Music Direct.
  42. "Sing for the King". Royal School of Church Music.
  43. "The St Helen's Service". Presto Music.
  44. "A Great Host of Women Composers". Susan Jane Matthews.
  45. "The Twyford Carols". Faber Music.
  46. "Words from the Cross". RSCM Music Direct.
  47. "40 Years of Women at Trinity". Trinity College, Cambridge.
  48. "A woman (wearing bloomers) on a wheel". NYC YouTube channel.
  49. "Suffragette March". L'Estrange Music.
  50. "Twenty-first-century Woman". Abbey Road Studios.
  51. "Making history at Abbey Road Studios". Twitter.
  52. "Freedom! The Power of Song". Spotify.
  53. "New sung grace". Churchill College, Cambridge.
  54. "Green Love commission". United Learning.
  55. "Ensemble Hub guest post". The King's Singers.
  56. "Recordings". The Oriel Singers.
  57. "Military Wives Choirs Remember". Amazon.
  58. "Commissions". Finchley Children's Music Group.
  59. "You can sing...but can you swing?!". Finchley Children's Music Group.
  60. "Vintage Vocal Swing". Audio Network.
  61. "Fleabag S2E1". YouTube.
  62. "Making history at Abbey Road Studios". Twitter.
  63. "AQUILA has landed". St John's College, Cambridge.
  64. "Sunshine course with Joanna Forbes L'Estrange". Choir of the Earth.
  65. "The mountains shall bring peace". RSCM YouTube channel.