The Holst Singers are one of Britain’s foremost choirs, described by the BBC as “a leading chorus on the international stage”. Based in London, in addition to their busy concert diary they regularly record for leading classical labels. With the support of their President, James Bowman, and Musical Director, Stephen Layton, the choir has developed an interest in exploring new and neglected works as well as core choral repertoire. In concert the choir is renowned for dramatic and engaging performances, described by The Times as “interactive concert-going at its most revelatory”.
Recent CD releases include A Ceremony of Carols & Saint Nicolas with Allan Clayton, City of London Sinfonia, and the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge; and Ikon II, the long awaited sequel to Ikon (1997), a disc that immediately became a cult classic and a best-seller. Ikon II brings together a selection of Russian choral masterpieces in an extraordinary disc which is immediately enthralling. Recently reviewed on BBC Radio 3 Record Review, the disc was described as “impeccable… so, so well-conceived” and Jeremy Summerly, the guest-reviewer, commented on the choir’s “phenomenal sound”.
Other notable recordings include Veljo Tormis (Hyperion); The Tavener Collection (Decca) – which followed the critically acclaimed performances of which the Times commented “I don’t think I shall hear singing this year more thrilling”; Schnittke’s Choir Concerto (Hyperion); Ikon – including music by Pärt, Sviridov, Gorecki and Tchaikovsky; Gretchaninov’s Vespers; and Over Hill, Over Dale – Vaughan Williams’ settings of Shakespeare songs and English folk songs (all Hyperion).
Concert highlights of the last two years include the Scott Centenary Concert Tour with City of London Sinfonia; Gabrieli at Temple Church and Trinity College, Cambridge in May 2012 (marking the 400th anniversary of his death); performances of Poulenc’s Gloria and Fauré’s Requiem with City of London Sinfonia at Temple Church and Gloucester Cathedral in June and July 2013; the world premiere of Eriks Esenvalds’ “City Songs” in collaboration with Imogen Heap for the Voices Now Festival in Camden in June 2013; Howells’s Requiem for All Souls’ Day 2013; and Arvo Pärt’s “Litany” with the Hilliard Ensemble at Southwark Cathedral in March 2014. Recent touring has included Estonia in March 2009; Santiago de Compostela with the Hilliard Ensemble in Easter 2011; and Northern Ireland in October 2013.
Future engagements in London in 2014 include Tavener’s a cappella works at Christ Church Spitalfields on 10 April 2014; Russian and Eastern European music at Temple Church on 14 May; and Handel’s Israel in Egypt on 19 June at St. John’s, Smith Square, with the Brook Street Band.