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Dr June Keyte MBE (1938-2020)

June Keyte

Areas of Interest


Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of the University, 2005


June Keyte was the Founder Director of Children's International Voices. Her distinguished 50-year career in music and music education included many different roles, from Director of Music in comprehensive and independent schools, to editing the music publication of the Society of Assistant Teachers in Preparatory Schools, and conducting the BBC Schools Radio Music Broadcasts for 27 years. In 1994 she founded Children's International Voices, for which she won much national and international acclaim. Her key role in music education has been widely recognised. In 1990 she was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship to study choir training in Finland, and later that same year a Bye Fellowship at Selwyn College, Cambridge. In 1992 she was awarded an ARAM from the Royal Academy in recognition of her 'distinguished services in Music Education'. In the 2005 Honours List she was awarded an MBE by HM The Queen for her Services to Music and to the Community in London.

Since 2005 there have been many innovations in the Children's International Voices of Enfield organisation. Choir tours have been to Switzerland, Iceland, Wales, Finland, Germany, Italy and Sweden continuing alternate year visits to different countries where they stay in families and learn more about their culture as well as giving many prestigious concerts and some recordings. Important London concerts were a BBC Prom in the presence of HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to celebrate her 80th birthday and the 90th anniversary of Save the Children at St Paul's Cathedral in the presence of HRH The Princess Anne. Many commissioned works have been performed in the presence of the composers including Dr John Rutter CBE and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE.

In December 2014 Children's International Voices of Enfield gave three Christmas concerts, a RutterFest performing 11 of his Christmas Works. John is also an Honorary Doctor of Music at Anglia Ruskin University. John very kindly recorded, edited and produced these pieces and many other items in preparation for their most recent CD. There are now six choirs, from the ages of three to 25.

June went to Johannesburg where she was invited to be one of the international judges in the incredible Ekurhuleni Melting Pot National Choral Festival. An unforgettable experience of magnificent Choral Singing. In 2015, International Voices performed at the Royal Festival Hall at the invitation of Rotary International in their London Youth Festival of Music. In 2016, the choir celebrated its 25th anniversary.

In 2005 June Keyte was awarded the Honorary degree of Doctor of the University.



"It is quite unusual for a university to confer honorary degrees on a pair or group of recipients. Liverpool did it for the Beatles; Anglia did it once for our Israeli partners, and had every intention of recognising Morecambe and Wise. Unfortunately, this interest was not realised, since they died and they graduated with honours to the celestial academy on high! However, we have the immense pleasure of honouring June and Christopher Keyte, a remarkable couple, with the award of Honorary Doctorate of Anglia Ruskin University for their contributions, single and jointly, to British music and musical education over the past four decades.

Let us commence with June Keyte. She first saw the light of day in Aberavon, South Wales, a formidable hot house of its time for future cultural eminences since her contemporaries were Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins of thespian fame, both of whom she was well acquainted with. As with many South Walian children, the call to the educational vocation was overwhelming and she studied at Trent Park College of Education, now part of Middlesex University, where she specialised in violin, and obtained an ARAM. Aspiring Welsh teachers in those days were almost obliged to seek employment in England first (unless one knew a local councillor rather well who could put the appropriate word in the right place!). So it was she obtained music teaching appointments in the former Middlesex County Council (later to be trans-mogrified into the London Boroughs of Haringey and Enfield) at the George Spicer School, Suffolk School and Kingsmead School as well as independent and preparatory schools, at various times. She quickly gravitated to Head of Department status where she exercised a benevolent but formidable influence over generations of young musicians, inspired by the likes of Sir Michael Tippett, Dr. Morgan Nicholas and Robert Martin and with sympathetic LEA support. The Kingsmead Singers were the first internationally acclaimed major manifestation of her choir direction skills, founded in 1967. Almost immediately, it became the cornerstone of BBC Schools musical broadcasting in Singing Together, Music Workshop and Music Makers, and achieved immense visibility through a vast repertoire often of new commissioned works; concerts and recitals; records, cassettes, CDs and films; educational recordings and radio and television broadcasts.

On her retirement from Kingsmead School in 1994, she founded Children's Voices, another immensely successful venture which still goes from strength to strength with a formidable track record of high profile concerts, international tours, and recordings. She also launched musical education at the Islamic King Fahd Academy in West London, worked with many preparatory schools and set up the Music Broadsheet for Preparatory Schools, which has just seen its 120th Edition.

To say that she has achieved recognition for her activities is an understatement. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in the category "Trainers of Children's Choirs" in 1990 which stimulated a close, vibrant and ongoing co-operation with music makers in Finland at school and higher education levels. In the same year, came the award of a Bye Fellowship at Selwyn College Cambridge University (which again stimulated foreign tours on behalf of the Chapel Royal, Worcester College and others) and both an MBE and an Honorary Associateship of the Royal Academy of Music (unique for an educationalist) for her distinguished service to musical education.

It is to be expected that with two such superb musical talents as June and Christopher under one roof, some synergy and convergence is to be expected. They did in fact meet originally on the BBC Schools Programme Singing Together, she with the Kingsmead Singers and he as a soloist. The ensuing relationship has thrived maritally and musically and certainly been marked by a strong sostenuto, a great deal of vibrato and presto, but no evidence as yet of any lento or rallentando. All musicians are grateful for this since they still have much to do and happily their enthusiasm is greater than ever. Anglia Ruskin indeed has a particular connection since their daughter, Heulwen is a music graduate of the University and both June and Christopher have been very supportive patrons of the Anglia Chamber Choir. Their pride and joy continues to be Children's Voices, of which Christopher is Associate Conductor, and to June, he is, as Psalm 46 says with great appropriateness, "a very present help in time of trouble".

They are renowned for the imaginative ways in which they inspire young people to discover hitherto unsuspected vocal or instrumental talent. Many musicians from several generations will readily give thanks for the ways in which their lives have been touched and enriched by the Keytes.

On behalf of Senate, I therefore exercise the authority of Senate and confer the award of Honorary Doctorate, honoris causa, on both Christopher and June Keyte, and now ask Trisha Gupta to confer the awards."