Sat 17 Oct, 10.00pm
Sung from St Augustine's, Kilburn
"As many of you will know, we were due to welcome The Sixteen to be Ensemble in Residence at this year's festival, to sing various services at St Salvator's, to perform with Luxmuralis, to work with the students and of course to give the closing concert of the 2020 festival in the beautiful acoustics of Holy Trinity Church. The Sixteen are a group of singers who's music has comforted so many of us over the past few months and so what better way than to get them together in the spectacular surroundings of St Augustine's, Kilburn to record two special performances for 'Distant Voices'. The second performance, a musical mediation, to close our 'Distant Voices' festival."
Amanda, Festival Director
Author of Light
Libera nos I and II
Whether performing a simple medieval hymn or expressing the complex musical and emotional language of a contemporary choral composition, The Sixteen does so with qualities common to all great ensembles. Tonal warmth, rhythmic precision and immaculate intonation are clearly essential to the mix. But it is the courage and intensity with which The Sixteen makes music that speak above all to so many people.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019 The Sixteen gave its first concert in 1979 under the direction of Founder and Conductor Harry Christophers CBE. Their pioneering work since has made a profound impact on the performance of choral music and attracted a large new audience, not least as ‘The Voices of Classic FM’ and through BBC television’s Sacred Music series.
The voices and period-instrument players of The Sixteen are at home in over five centuries of music, a breadth reflected in their annual Choral Pilgrimage to Britain’s great cathedrals and sacred spaces, regular appearances at the world’s leading concert halls, and award-winning recordings for The Sixteen’s CORO and other labels.
Recent highlights include the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Stabat mater (at the Barbican in 2016 and live streamed from the Sistine Chapel in 2018), and his Fifth Symphony ‘Le grand inconnu’ (2019 Edinburgh International Festival and the Lincoln Centre, New York), both commissioned for Harry Christophers and The Sixteen by the Genesis Foundation, an ambitious ongoing series of Handel oratorios, and a debut tour of China.
Founder and Conductor
Harry Christophers stands among today’s great champions of choral music. In partnership with The Sixteen, he has set benchmark standards for the performance of everything from late medieval polyphony to important new works by contemporary composers.
Under his leadership The Sixteen has established its hugely successful annual Choral Pilgrimage, created the Sacred Music series for BBC television, and developed an acclaimed period-instrument orchestra. Highlights of their recent work include an Artist Residency at Wigmore Hall, a large-scale tour of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Fifth Symphony at the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival and a live-streamed performance of MacMillan’s Stabat mater from the Sistine Chapel. Their future projects, meanwhile, comprise a new series devoted to Purcell and an ongoing survey of Handel’s dramatic oratorios.
Harry Christophers has served as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society since 2008, is Principal Guest Conductor of the City of Granada Orchestra and has worked as guest conductor with, among others, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsches Kammerphilharmonie. Christophers’ extensive commitment to opera has embraced productions for English National Opera and Lisbon Opera and work with the Granada, Buxton and Grange festivals.
He recently collaborated with BBC Radio 3 presenter Sara Mohr-Pietsch to produce a book entitled A New Heaven: Choral Conversations in celebration of the group’s 40th anniversary.
Harry Christophers was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 2012 Birthday Honours list. He is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, as well as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and has Honorary Doctorates in Music from the Universities of Leicester, Northumbria, Canterbury Christ Church and Kent.