The Choir of Royal Holloway Choir
The Choir of Royal Holloway is considered to be one of the ﬁnest mixed-voice collegiate choirs in Britain. Their recordings on the Decca and Hyperion labels have attracted top reviews from all major music publications. The choir gives around 50 concerts a year with a specialism in music from the late Renaissance and contemporary music, and especially from the Baltic states.
The Choir of Royal Holloway is considered to be one of the finest university choirs in Britain. The choir was created at the time of the foundation of Royal Holloway College in 1886, and was originally only for women’s voices. The group, comprised of 20 choral scholars and an organ scholar, is directed by Rupert Gough and undertakes a busy schedule of weekly services and concerts, international tours, recordings and live broadcasts. Royal Holloway is the only university that maintains a tradition of singing daily morning services, and is home to the only choir in the country performing weekly live-streamed concerts.
As part of the choir’s 50+ concerts a year, they regularly collaborate with and perform alongside many famous ensembles. These have included the King’s Singers, the BBC Singers, Britten Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, Onyx Brass, Fretwork and the jazz-trio Acoustic Triangle, with whom they broadcast live on BBC radio. The group also celebrates the work of living composers, and have commissioned works from Sir James MacMillan, Gabriel Jackson, Richard Rodney Bennett, Cecilia McDowall and Paul Mealor. The choir’s diverse repertoire also includes larger-scale works including Vespers by Monteverdi, Rachmaninov and Rautavaara, Requiems by Mozart and Howells, and Gabriel Jackson’s Ave regina coelorum for choir and electric guitar which they also broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Festival engagements have included the Spitalfields Festival, the Three Choirs Festival, the Windsor and Swaledale festivals, the Cheltenham Festival (with alumna Dame Felicity Lott and the City of London Sinfonia), and numerous residencies at the Presteigne Festival.
International performances are also an integral part of the choir’s work. They have toured most European countries, and have been broadcast on national television and radio all over the world. A tour of all three Baltic States saw the choir performing in the Latvian Song Festival with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, in a concert (sung in Estonian) broadcast nationally on the Estonian Day of Independence. Further afield, the group has visited Beijing and had a number of successful tours to the US and Canada. The choir regularly sing at high-profile events which have included the Annual Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall (live on BBC television), an awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace, and for the Magna Carta 800 celebrations, in which they performed a new work by John Rutter in the presence of HM the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury. More recently they sang at the wedding of Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling at York Minster.
The choir are much in demand for recording work with orchestras. A live concert recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Thomas Adès and the Britten Sinfonia is due for release from Signum Records. The choir has also recorded James Francis Browns The Heavens and the Heart with Orchestra Nova and Joanna Marsh’s cantata The Pearl of Freedom with the London Mozart Players, as well as her vast piece for brass and orchestra, The Tower. More recently, the choir have recorded Dan Locklair’s Requiem, an album of music for choir and organ by Flemish composer, Flor Peeters, and travelled abroad to record a disc of lesser-known French music by Pierre Villete, entitled Messe da Pacem. The choir has also recorded new music by Matthew Coleridge and George Arthur over the past year, with a new album of music by Ola Gjeilo coming soon.
The choir has an extensive and highly acclaimed discography with Hyperion, Decca, Signum and Naxos amongst others, and has one of the busiest recording schedules of any collegiate choir. Recordings include music by 16th century composer Peter Philips with the English Cornett & Sackbut ensemble, contemporary American choral music by René Clausen and Stephen Paulus and madrigals from Victorian England. The choir is renowned for their performances of Nordic and Baltic music, and has recorded works by Vytautas Miškinis, Rihards Dubra, Bo Hansson, Tõnu Kõrvits (with the Britten Sinfonia) and Ola Gjeilo to great acclaim. The 2018 release Winter Songs with Gjeilo was No. 1 in the UK and US classical charts
“What more can you possibly ask for? Here is a choir of young singers, fresh of tone and fresh of mind. They blend perfectly, they shade sensitively, they appear to work with a like mind towards an agreed ideal of choral sound.” —Gramophone Magazine