Charlie Beale

Change through music

This is the website of Dr Charles W. Beale, international choral director, jazz musician, clinician and speaker.


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Born in London in 1964, Charlie Beale is an international choral conductor, a jazz educator, and speaks and writes on the arts and LGBTQ+ issues.

2018-19 is his 12th and final season as conductor and Artistic Director of New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. Under his energized leadership, the chorus has expanded to 275 singers, has a renewed, more passionate sound, and has transformed its outreach to include SAGE Singalongs for LGBTQ elders, Youth Pride Chorus and an expanded Schools program. His tenure culminated in a massed performance of ‘Quiet No More, a joint commission celebrating the 50th Anniversary of then Stonewall Uprising in June 2019, nearly 600 GALA chorus members at Carnegie Hall.

NYCGMC has achieved strong commercial success, and is recognized for its innovative and entertaining performances locally, across the US and internationally. Recently, NYCGMC has performed to stadium-sized audiences with Demi Lovato and Sia, sang in the Emmy Award-winning movie of Larry Kramer's iconic 'The Normal Heart', toured Europe and raised around US$55,000 for Marriage Equality Ireland In one Dublin performance. In 2015/16, it also performed at Carnegie Hall with Alan Cumming, was the guest star of the New Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center, and sang at GALA Festival 2016 in Denver Colorado.

A campaigner for stylistic diversity within music education, Charlie is also one of the UK's leading jazz educators. Nominated for a UK Jazz Parliamentary Award for services to jazz education in 2005, he was on the Resource Team of the International Association for Jazz Education in the early 2000s. Central to the invention of Grade exams for beginner jazz musicians, he toured within the UK and internationally, and worked with thousands of musicians and educators on first steps to improvising, jazz rhythm skills and teaching and learning by ear. Having received his Ph.D in 2001 from the Institute of Education, London University, he is also a prolific writer and arranger in jazz and choral music, published by Oxford, Hal Leonard, Faber and ABRSM Publishing.

Vice President of the Board of Directors of GALA Choruses, Charlie is now a leading voice in the queer choral movement, mentors choral directors and is passionate about the potential for singing in the world. He gives frequent choral clinics and workshops internationally, most recently working in Fall 2018 with Coro Gay Ciudad de México and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte. He worked with an all-Australia LGBTQ+ chorus of 200 in Summer 2013, and has been central to 'Big Gay Sing' events in Denver Colorado, Trafalgar Square in London and New York City since 2009.

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At 17, Charlie won an organ scholarship to Trinity Hall, Cambridge and in 1989 he won the Rose Morris Prize for jazz at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  Charlie’s 1990s playing career included national radio broadcasts as a classical pianist, a jazz organ concerto with the UK's National Youth Jazz Orchestra and West End theatre work. He also has both playing and arranging credits on albums and singles by pop and dance artists including Whitney Houston and Adeva. In 2004, he directed members of the London Philarmonic Orchestra in an improvised performanceof Howard Shore’s Orbits at London’s South Bank Centre. 


Jazz education was a main focus for many years. From 1999-2007, he taught at the Royal College of Music in London, where he was Area leader for Aural Training, Professor of Jazz Piano and directed the Royal College of Music Big Band. He went on to write a critically acclaimed book 'Jazz Piano from Scratch' (Hal Leonard/ABRSM) and penned the chapter on Jazz Education in the recent Oxford Companion to Jazz

As Lead Jazz Consultant to the Associated Board for ten years from 1996-2006, he was central to the design of innovative syllabuses and over 50 publications for beginner jazz players of all ages. He also trained and moderated ABRSM jazz examiners, and facilitated dozens of jazz workshops and seminars for hundreds of teachers in the UK, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. In 2005, he was nominated for a UK Jazz Parliamentary Award for services to jazz education.


Charlie completed his doctoral studies at the institute of Education, London university in 2001. Key research interests include jazz and choral singing, with a focus on improvisation, working by ear, and the relationship between music as it is performed and music in education.  Most recently, he has contributed a chapter on LGBTQ choral singing to the Oxford Companion to Choral Singing (February 2017).


Increasingly in demand internationally, Charlie has worked extensively as a choral conductor and jazz educator, performing, speaking and giving clinics in Australia, New Zealand and the Far East, as well as the US and the UK.

For more on Charlie’s international work and publications, click on the links.

Thank you so much for coming to Charlotte to lead an amazing workshop! My only wish is that it could have lasted longer. Thank you for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm.
— Gay Men's Chorus of Charlotte workshop, 2011