The BBC has today announced the appointment of Neil Ferris as the new Chorus Director of the BBC Symphony Chorus. Neil will join the BBC Symphony Chorus in May 2017 and will be responsible for steering the vocal and artistic development of the Chorus as well as leading their strong relationship with BBC Radio 3, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and their Chief Conductor, Sakari Oramo, as well as the BBC Proms.

Joining Neil as Deputy Chorus Director will be Grace Rossiter. Grace is regarded for her work with the Finchley Children’s Music Group and her recent work with the BBC Symphony Chorus has included preparing them for their performance of Richard Rodney Bennett’s Spells at the BBC SO’s Total Immersion dedicated to the composer in November 2016.

Meanwhile Helen MacLeod joins the BBC in the new position of Choruses Manager of the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Proms Youth Chorus. Helen joins the BBC from the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

Neil Ferris studied at Royal Holloway, University of London, and at the Royal College of Music. He was Head of Choral Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is in demand as a choral director across the UK. He is Artistic Director of the professional chamber choir Sonoro, Chorus Director at the Royal College of Music and Music Director of Wimbledon Choral Society. He has held positions with London Symphony Chorus and at the Endellion Festival, and has prepared choirs for conductors including Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Marin Alsop and Martyn Brabbins.

Neil’s first project with the BBC Symphony Chorus will be to prepare them for their annual appearance at the First Night of the BBC Proms (Friday 14 July 2017) and with Grace, further performances throughout the season.

Neil Ferris, Chorus Director, BBC Symphony Chorus, says: "I am thrilled to have been appointed as Chorus Director of the BBC Symphony Chorus. They rightly enjoy a reputation as one of the finest choirs in the UK and I have witnessed their superb musicianship on a number of occasions. The opportunity to work with them as part of the wider BBC Symphony Orchestra family is hugely exciting and I look forward to some exciting projects in the future, and more immediately beginning the preparations for this season's Proms."

Sakari Oramo, Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, says: "I am hugely looking forward to welcoming Neil into the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus family. In my discussions with him, and based on the work he has already performed with us, I am convinced that he will bring fresh energy and ideas to our artistic work."

Paul Hughes, General Manager of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and BBC Singers, says: "Neil's appointment is most warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by the whole BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus team. With Grace, he joins us at a particularly exciting time, alongside the arrival of Helen Macleod as our new Choruses Manager, and I look forward to working closely with them."

The BBC Symphony Chorus was founded in 1928. Working closely with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, it performs a wide range of challenging repertoire, much of which is broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Like the BBC SO, the Chorus is committed to the performance of new music, with premieres and commissions in recent years of work by Maxwell Davies, Judith Weir and John Tavener. The Chorus also appears regularly at the BBC Proms including at the First and Last Nights.

The BBC Symphony Chorus has performed under the baton of conductors including John Adams, Marin Alsop, Pierre Boulez, Sir Adrian Boult and Sir Malcolm Sargent. Former Directors include Leslie Woodgate and John Poole and most recently for 26 years they were led by Stephen Jackson. Their current President is Sir Andrew Davis.

Highlights of its 2017-18 Barbican season have so far included Berlioz’s Grande messe des morts (Requiem), conducted by Francois-Xavier Roth, Richard Rodney Bennett’s Spells with Rumon Gamba, and Philip Glass’ choral homages Itaipú led by Marin Alsop. Still to come this season the Chorus will give performances of Dvořák’s powerful Requiem (13 April) under Jiří Bělohlávek and Bliss’ cantata The Beatitudes conducted by Sir Andrew Davis (12 May).


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