The Choir of Royal Holloway

Vocal Ensemble

At a glance

The Choir of Royal Holloway

Vocal Ensemble

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

The Choir of Royal Holloway is considered to be one of the finest mixed-voice collegiate choirs in Britain. Their recordings on the Decca Classics 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.

Biography —

The Choir of Royal Holloway is considered to be one of the finest mixed-voice collegiate choirs in Britain. Their recordings have attracted top reviews from all major music publications. Equally at home on the concert platform, the choir gives 50-plus concerts a year with a particular specialism in music from the late renaissance and contemporary music, especially from the Baltic states.

Created at the time of the foundation of Royal Holloway in 1886, the choir was originally only for women’s voices. The mixed choir now comprises 24 Choral Scholars who are generously funded as a part of the Santander Universities Scheme. These choral scholars undertake a busy schedule of weekly services, as well as concerts, international tours, recordings and broadcasts. In addition to these, Royal Holloway is also the only university that still maintains a tradition of daily sung morning services.

Between 2009 and 2016, the choir recorded nine discs on the Hyperion record label. It is through this relationship with Hyperion Records, and subsequent live performances, that the choir developed a particular reputation for the performance of music from the Baltic region. During a tour in the summer of 2013 of all three Baltic States the choir performed as a part of the Latvian Song Festival, and with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra in a concert (sung in Estonian) broadcast on the Estonian Day of Independence.

Having recorded an album of carols for the Edition Peters Sounds label in 2016, the Choir recorded “Winter Songs”, an album for Decca Classics, in 2017 featuring the music of Ola Gjeilo with the composer playing piano and the 12 Ensemble. It was top of the UK classical charts on release. There are plans for a new recording with Decca and Gjeilo. This season an album of music by Ben Parry will be released by Signum Classics.

The choir has toured most European countries, appeared in Beijing and been broadcast on regional and national radio and television all over the world. In the UK BBC Radio 3 have produced live broadcasts of both services and concerts. During 2016 and again in 2018 the choir toured the USA and Canada including performances from Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver to Houston, San Antonio, Chicago and New York City. They will return to North America in 2020.

Many new works have been composed for the choir as it continues to enjoy close collaborations with living composers. Carson P. Cooman composed The Revelations of Divine Love, a large new oratorio, for the choir in 2009 and a live recording of the US première has now been released by Albany Records in the USA. Other works written for the choir include two major works for choir and jazz trio from Tim Garland and Gwilym Simcock, and pieces by René Clausen, James MacMillan, Gabriel Jackson, Richard Rodney Bennett, Antony Pitts, David Bednall, Joanna Marsh and Paul Mealor.

The choir has been fortunate to sing at a number of high-profile events including the 2014 Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall (live on BBC TV), an awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace and performing a new John Rutter commission for the Magna Carta 800th anniversary in 2015 in front of HM The Queen, the Prime Minister and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Recent festival engagements have included the Spitalfields Festival, the Three Choirs Festival, the Holy Week Festival at St John’s Smith Square, the Windsor and Swaledale festivals, the Cheltenham Festival (with Dame Felicity Lott and the City of London Sinfonia), with the London Chamber Orchestra at Cadogan Hall, and residencies at the Presteigne Festival in 2015 and 2018.

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Rupert Gough

Rupert Gough has been director of Choral Music and College Organist at Royal Holloway, University of London since 2005. He is also Organist and Director of Music at London’s oldest surviving church, Great Saint Bartholomew, which maintains a professional choir. At Royal Holloway Rupert has developed the choral programme to include weekly choral recitals, choral conducting courses for undergraduates, new choral commissions and transformed the Chapel Choir into an elite group of 24 choral scholars. The Choir has particularly come to prominence in the last three years through their series of recordings for Hyperion Records.

Rupert was a chorister at the Chapels Royal, St. James’s Palace, and won a scholarship to the Purcell School. He received (with distinction) a Masters degree in English Church Music from the University of East Anglia whilst Organ Scholar at Norwich Cathedral. In 2001 he won Third Prize at the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition. He is particularly renowned for his work in combination with violin as a member of the Gough Duo. As a conductor he has worked with a variety of professional choirs and orchestras including the Britten Sinfonia, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and Florilegium as well as many distinguished soloists.

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  • Robin Tyson