Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37
Stephen Layton conductor
The Holst Singers are one of Britain’s foremost choirs, described by the BBC as “a leading chorus on the international stage”. In addition to their busy concert diary in and around London and at festivals, they frequently broadcast on Classic FM and BBC Radio 3, and 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 the core choral repertoire.
Recent CD releases include The Tavener Collection (Decca) and their much-admired recording of Schnittke’s Choir Concerto (Hyperion), which Gramophone magazine described as “a superb and revealing performance”. Other recordings by the Holst Singers include their acclaimed CD releases of Ikon (including music by Pärt, Sviridov, Gorecki and Tchaikovsky), Gretchaninov’s Vespers, and settings of Shakespeare songs and English folk songs by Vaughan Williams in Over Hill, Over Dale.
Recent highlights for the Holst Singers have included the premiere of Sir John Tavener’s magnum opus, The Veil of The Temple in two acclaimed all-night performances. The Times review of the concert commented, “I don’t think I shall hear singing this year more thrilling”.
Following these performances the Holst Singers were asked to record The Tavener Collection (Decca), a compilation featuring the composer’s best works, and took part in the first performance of the concert version of this new work in last summer’s BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. A recording of the concert version will be released by Sony/BMG later this year.
Other recent events in the last year have included a performance of Schnittke’s Requiem, and an evening of sacred works by Thomas Tallis and Arvo Pärt, described by The Times as “interactive concert-going at it’s most revelatory”. Forthcoming events include further performances in the series The Sensual and the Spiritual – the exploration of the works of Pierre Villette, a candlelight performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, his epic choral setting of the Russian Orthodox All-Night Vigil, and an exploration of Edward Elgar’s choral music.