Jeffrey Skidmore is best known as the founder and artistic director of the highly respected choir Ex Cathedra, as well as of its associated ensembles, the Ex Cathedra Consort and the period-instrument Ex Cathedra Baroque Orchestra. While Skidmore has led a wide range of Baroque works, he has had notable success with his recordings of Latin American and French Baroque music. His repertory also extends into the 20th century, with works by Ravel, Schoenberg, Britten, Alec Roth, John Gardner, and many others, including commissioned works from John Joubert and Fyfe Hutchins. Skidmore has led his ensembles in operatic productions in both the U.K. and abroad, most notably in rediscovered operas by Lully (Isis) and Royer (Zaide, Queen of Grenada). But Skidmore has branched out too, leading the BBC Singers in concert, as well as the Hanover Band and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he is active in music education, serving at Birmingham Conservatoire as artistic director of the Early Music Program and as director of Ex Cathedra's own vast music program, which includes choral training programs and various outreach projects. As a Baroque scholar Skidmore has developed new performing editions of compositions by Monteverdi, Rameau, Charpentier, Araujo, and others, and he has made numerous recordings for Hyperion, Orchid Classics, ASV, and the Ex Cathedra label.
Jeffrey Skidmore was born in Birmingham, U.K., in 1951. He served as a chorister in Bournville (U.K.) at St. Francis' Church, but spent much of his youth in the U.S. where his family had relocated. Skidmore returned to the U.K. and in 1969, at a mere 18 years of age, he founded Ex Cathedra Consort, which was originally an amateur chamber choir. Skidmore went on to advanced studies at Magdalen College, Cambridge, as a choral scholar under David Wulstan. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Skidmore, who was teaching music fulltime at John Willmott School in Sutton Coldfield, developed the consort into one of the finest Baroque choirs in England. Eventually, it would number 40, with both amateur and professional members.
In 1994 Skidmore left his teaching post at John Willmott School to conduct full-time. Soon his recordings were drawing notice. Among the earliest of them was a 1997 ASV CD of Monteverdi's Madrigali Fatta Spirituale. By the early years of the new century, Skidmore and Ex Cathedra Consort were internationally celebrated.
Throughout most of his career Skidmore regularly led the consort's ensembles at music festivals and in 2005 he took on greater duties when he served as the classical music programmer at the Kilkenny Festival.
For the Ex Cathedra Consort's 40th anniversary celebrations in November 2009, Skidmore led his ensembles in performances of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius and Mendelssohn's Elijah. Skidmore's more acclaimed recordings include the 2011 Somm CD of Lassus' St. Matthew Passion.