As The Sixteen celebrates its 40th anniversary, its founder and conductor Harry Christophers CBE and music broadcaster, writer and curator Sara Mohr-Pietsch embark on a series of conversations that look back over those four decades, and to the future. A New Heaven: Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, Choral Conversations with Sara Mohr-Pietsch is to be published by Faber & Faber on Thursday 15 August.
Accessible to everyone interested in classical music, from the professional to the amateur, each chapter is linked to a piece of music which prompted Christophers’ and Mohr-Pietsch’s discussions and they are all compiled on an accompanying disc. All but one can be found on The Sixteen’s own award-winning label, CORO.
In May 1979, a group of singers and instrumentalists, brought together and conducted by Harry Christophers, gave their first concerts as The Sixteen. Now, 40 years later, the choir celebrates its ruby anniversary with a season full of concerts all over the UK and internationally, going back to key works in its history which have provided its foundation as well as looking forward with new commissions. This mixture has cemented it as one of world’s greatest ensembles, known for its tonal richness, expressive intensity and compelling collective artistry. Highlights of the year ahead include a nine-venue tour of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 in February; the annual Choral Pilgrimage, a much loved staple in The Sixteen’s programming, which takes in 27 locations throughout the year and includes a new commission by Sir James MacMillan O virgo prudentissima; and also The Sixteen’s choir and orchestra join forces with The Grange Festival Chorus for five fully-staged performances of Handel’s dramatic oratorio Belshazzar, conducted by Christophers at The Grange Festival, 20 June – 6 July.
Harry Christophers says: ‘One can trace the story of The Sixteen’s remarkable 40 years through our many recordings and I’m delighted that we are also marking it in words with the help of the wonderful Sara Mohr-Pietsch. It has always been about the music for me and with a specific work being the springboard for each chapter, we ensure that it still is very much at the centre of our celebrations. I hope everyone who reads it will enjoy both reminiscing about our beginnings and get excited about where we’re going.’
Sara Mohr-Pietsch says: ‘I’ve long admired The Sixteen for their luxurious sound and ambitious programming, and it was a pleasure to discuss and unpack both with Harry in our conversations. Like his singers, Harry is warm and unpretentious, and speaks with great clarity about his deep love of music, as well as sharing fascinating insights about the world of choral music and the recording industry. It’s been a real honour to be involved in The Sixteen’s 40th anniversary celebrations, and made to feel part of the family.’