Who's who

Helen Smee

Director of Music


Helen was brought up in East London and began piano lessons aged five. She later won a music scholarship at Francis Holland School, Clarence Gate where she began accompanying and conducting and in her final year, organ lessons.


Helen went on to study Music at Cambridge, winning an Organ Scholarship to Peterhouse where she conducted and accompanied the Choir during twice-weekly services in the College chapel. During her time at Cambridge she played and conducted in numerous British cathedrals including Gloucester, Canterbury and Lincoln cathedrals and Westminster Abbey, and studied with David Sanger.

She went on to study on the MA Choral Conducting programme at the Royal Academy of Music. Studying under Patrick Russill, she worked with groups including the RAM Chamber Choir and BBC Singers, and graduated in July 2013 with the Alan Kirby Prize.

Helen took up the post of Director of Music at St Mary Merton in September 2011, where she is responsible for conducting and accompanying the Choir and overseeing the installation of the new Mander organ, completed in October 2015. Helen is also General Manager of Highbury Opera Theatre, where she also works with its large youth chorus. She is Director of Highbury Youth Choir, Director of Buckland and Betchworth Choral Society and works regularly with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. In 2014 she co-founded the Voices of London Festival, a week-long celebration of choral music. 



Ian Tindale

Visiting Organist


Ian Tindale graduated from Selwyn College, Cambridge, with a double First in Music, where he was also Organ Scholar. Ian gained the Fellowship Diploma of the Royal College Organists (FRCO), and Ian has since held positions at St Bride’s Fleet Street and Lincoln’s Inn. 

Ian graduated with Distinction from the Master of Performance course in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in 2013, where he was then Junior Fellow in Piano Accompaniment. In February 2015 Ian was awarded the Royal Overseas League Music Competition Accompanist's Prize, and the Help Musicians UK Accompanist's Prize in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards in April 2015. Previously he has been named winner of the Gerald Moore Award, the Help Musicians UK Accompanist’s Prize (Maggie Teyte Competition), the Association of English Singers and Speakers Accompanist’s Prize and several accompaniment prizes at the RCM. Ian has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall and the National Gallery, and most recently in the Oxford Lieder Festival and Wimbledon International Music Festival.

As a répétiteur Ian has worked with Cambridge Handel Opera, British Youth Opera and Ryedale Festival Opera. As an orchestral pianist Ian has appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on BBC Radio 3 and with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on the newly-restored organ of the Royal Festival Hall. Ian is also a Samling Artist, and he studies with Simon Lepper, John Blakely and Roger Vignoles.



Harriet Burns

Vocal Coach


Harriet is a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Music where she studied with Jenny Dakin and Audrey Hyland on the BMus course. She now studies with Susan McCulloch.


Recent operatic roles have included Lead Vocalist (Improvised History of the World) at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Mary 2 (Passion and Resurrection) at the Voices of London Festival, Jove as Diana (La Calisto) and Barbarina (Marriage of Figaro) with Hampstead Garden Opera, principal roles with the Grim's Dyke Opera Company in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe and Yeomen of the Guard, Gretel (Hansel und Gretel) and Tina (Flight) for the Royal Academy of Music opera scenes. Oratorio and concert highlights include Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire with the Academy Manson Ensemble, Mozart's Requiem at St Martin in-the-Fields, the world premieres of Alex Paxton's The Elephant's Lament at the Forge in Camden, and Evan Kassof's Memoirs of Transformation at the Royal Academy of Music. Upcoming engagements include the role of Emmie (Albert Herring) with HGO, Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle, Haydn Nelson Mass and Mozart Requiem


While at the Academy she was a member of both the Academy Chamber Choir and Bach Cantata Series, and is now a member of renowned choir Polyphony. She is now a student on the Masters course in Vocal Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with Yvonne Kenny; in September 2018 she will join the Opera School of GSMD.


Harriet enjoys working with young voices and is delighted to have joined the team at St Mary Merton.



Tristan McElderry

Gap-year Assistant Organist


Tristan is the Gap Year Assistant Organist at St Mary’s, having started his musical education in 2013 by singing there as a chorister, and took up the organ in 2014. Alongside accompanying the choir at services, he helps train the choristers at rehearsals, and regularly conducts the choir.


Away from St Mary’s, Tristan is the Conductor of the Tiffin Boys’ Oratorio Choir, and an Assistant Leader at Highbury Youth Choir. He also is a staff member at the Pimlico Musical Foundation Children’s Choir, for which he has taken rehearsals, and performed as a percussionist in the Christmas concert.


Tristan is also an accomplished freelance singer, has been a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain since 2015, and performed at the 2017 International Youth Choir Festival at the Royal Albert Hall. He is also a Choral Scholar in the London Youth Choir Chamber Choir, performing at the 2018 Education World Forum and at the Tower of London, and Inner Voices choir, where he has done solo work including Faure’s Requiem at St-Martin-In-The-Fields, and at St Vitus Cathedral, Prague.


In October 2018 Tristan will take up the organ scholarship at Trinity College, Oxford where he will be reading for a degree in Music.

Alexander Milner

Organ Scholar