Highlights include:

Handel’s Acis and Galatea as performed at the 1718 premiere with five singers and nine instrumentalists

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Choral Pilgrimage with 27 concerts across the UK focusing on Rome and four composers who created some of their finest work at the Sistine Chapel

Mixing Renaissance masterpieces with traditional favourites for Christmas tour

Long-standing relationships with key UK venues continue: exploring music by Byrd and Dowland as well as the next concert in the critically acclaimed cycle devoted to Henry Purcell at Wigmore Hall; music focusing on Brumel’s Earthquake Mass and Lassus’ 10-part setting of Aurora lucis rutilat as part of Nature Unwrapped at Kings Place

The Sixteen’s award-winning record label CORO releases 6 albums – 4 of them new recordings by The Sixteen - including James MacMillan’s Symphony No. 5 ‘Le grand Inconnu,’ commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for Harry Christophers & The Sixteen

Digital release of a voices-only version of the slow movement from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 (Adagio sostenuto) commissioned by The Sixteen and arranged specially by Bob Chilcott

Harry Christophers CBE Founder & Conductor of The Sixteen says: ‘we loved celebrating our 40th birthday with audiences across the world last year: how could we possibly follow the amazing achievements and packed schedule of 2019? Well, we mark 20 years of the Choral Pilgrimage! We have travelled the length and breadth of the UK over the years, enjoying performing beautiful music in stunning and acoustically rewarding cathedrals and abbeys. We’re looking forward to seeing you at one of our concerts and helping us celebrate again.’

Handel’s Acis & Galatea

The talent within The Sixteen choir & orchestra is showcased in four concert performances of Handel’s pastoral opera Acis & Galatea in February. Staying true to the 1718 premiere, Christophers uses just five singers and nine instrumentalists: Grace Davidson (Galatea), Jeremy Budd (Acis), Mark Dobell (Damon), Simon Berridge (Coridon), Stuart Young (Polyphemus). To compliment the chamber-like nature, the concerts are presented in intimate venues such as Cadogan Hall (11 February), Chichester Cathedral (12 February), Derby Cathedral (14 February) and St Mary’s Church, Warwick (15 February).

Choral Pilgrimage’s 20th anniversary

Following on from its 40th birthday celebrations in 2019, The Sixteen and Harry Christophers mark another milestone in 2020: the twentieth anniversary of the much-loved Choral Pilgrimage. The annual Choral Pilgrimage has been a much-loved staple of The Sixteen’s programme for many years, travelling the UK’s cathedrals and abbeys, discovering their beautiful architecture and acoustics and building relationships with the community, many of whom the choir return to year after year.

This year’s tour, The Call of Rome, focuses on the city which has inspired countless pilgrimages, and particularly the Sistine Chapel, where each of the four composers in this year’s programme, Victoria, Josquin, F. Anerio and Allegri, created some of their finest work. All of them had an association with the Chapel at some point during their career, particularly Gregorio Allegri whose Miserere is perhaps the most famous piece of sacred music ever written. The programme also includes Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday, Josquin’s Pater noster / Ave Maria, and F. Anerio’s Litaniae Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, amongst others. Beginning at Rochester Cathedral (19 March), it takes in 27 locations and finishes at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (6 November).

The Sixteen at Christmas

This year’s Christmas programme, named after the hymn The Truth from Above, is a mixture of enduring Renaissance masterpieces and traditional favourites. It includes everything from well-known carols to Byrd’s lively Laetentur caeli and Will Todd’s peaceful My Lord has come. It comes to St David’s Hall, Cardiff (6 December), Cadogan Hall, London (15 & 16 December), and St John the Evangelist, Oxford (17 December) with many more dates to be announced.

Residencies

Christophers and The Sixteen’s long-standing relationships with Wigmore Hall and Kings Place continue in 2020. The first performance of their three-concert residency at Wigmore Hall uses 12 singers and lute to explore the later music of Byrd and Dowland at a time when they were both under the threat of arrest for being Catholic (21 February). They also present Handel’s 11 Chandos Anthems (9 June) and continue the series of Welcome Songs and Coronation music for King James II (22 October).

As part of Nature Unwrapped at Kings Place, The Sixteen’s The Earth Resounds programme centres around Brumel’s Earthquake Mass with its 12 separate vocal lines. (23 September).

Other UK performances

Further UK performances include a programme demonstrating the volume and variety of Purcell’s compositional output as well as Scarlatti’s setting of the Stabat mater at The Assembly Rooms, Bath (20 February). Music by Tallis, Byrd, Morleyorely, Sheppard, Tallis and Cornysh is performed at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster (17 June), whilst two of The Sixteen’s most popular programmes An Immortal Legacy and The Queen of Heaven are performed at St George’s Church, Beckenham (27 June) and as part of the St Andrews Voices Festival at Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews (18 October) respectively.

CORO

The Sixteen’s award-winning record label, CORO, releases 4 albums in 2020 but begins with the digital release of a voices-only version of the slow movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Adagio sostenuto), commissioned by The Sixteen and arranged specially by Bob Chilcott (February). The annual Choral Pilgrimage album, bringing together all the repertoire from the tour is available from March.

CORO also releases Sir James MacMillan’s Symphony No. 5 ‘Le grand Inconnu,’ commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for Harry Christophers and The Sixteen (April). They gave the world premiere of the choral symphony, a meditation on the mystery of the Holy Spirit, to rave reviews at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019 with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Genesis Sixteen. The recording is to be taken from the London premiere at the Barbican with The Sixteen, Britten Sinfonia and Genesis Sixteen (14 October).

Later in the year, The Sixteen continues its acclaimed series on CORO of Purcell’s Royal Welcome Songs for Kings Charles II Volume III, featuring repertoire such as What shall be done on behalf of the man and From those serene and rapturous joys (September). There is also a new recording by The Sixteen of music by Stanford, Whitacre, Maxwell Davies, Todd, MacMillan and Chilcott as well as others (October).

Outreach Work

The extensive Education and Outreach programme is integral to The Sixteen’s work, promoting and advancing public awareness of the repertoire the choir performs whilst also using the power of music to engage, inspire and transform musical education. A particular area of interest is young people who may not have had access to music in school and are in culturally underserved areas where arts provision is low. Following on from the legacy of the 40th anniversary year, The Sixteen undertake residencies in Carlisle, Manchester, Medway and London in 2020, uniting communities through singing and the mutual appreciation of music. The outreach also includes masterclasses, chorister workshops, Insight Days, and matinee performances in schools.

The Choral Workshops are a rewarding opportunity for keen amateur singers to explore a variety of music inspired by The Sixteen’s own performances. Under the guidance of expert workshop leaders including The Sixteen’s Associate Conductor, Eamonn Dougan, and singer and practical scholar Sally Dunkley, workshops include advice on vocal technique, as well as performance interpretation and historical context. The repertoire for 2020 includes music by Josquin and Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories: London (14 March); Rochester (15 March); Oxford (21 March); Tewkesbury (12 Sep), Blackburn (26 Sep), Peterborough (3 October); Carlisle (10 October); Edinburgh (17 October); Manchester (7 November).

 

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