The Chorus is greatly saddened to hear of the death on 22 August of Charles Spencer, the first Chairman of the Philharmonia Chorus. He stepped forward at a time of great crisis in 1964 and established a self-governing management structure which remains in place to this day. He led the Chorus during almost two decades of historic performances and celebrated recordings, when it established its international reputation. The sympathy of the Chorus goes out to his widow Germaine and his family.
The Philharmonia Chorus gave a rare performance of Golgotha by Frank Martin at the 2011 'Easter at King's' Festival on Good Friday, 22 April, in the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by Stephen Cleobury.
Golgotha is a large scale, highly dramatic telling of the Passion story that Swiss composer Frank Martin composed in 1945-6. It clearly came directly from the heart, since it was not commissioned. Martin was inspired to write it after coming across a Rembrandt etching, 'The Three Crosses'. Scored for five soloists, orchestra, chorus and organ, its 10 movements span over 90 minutes, and are vividly theatrical. It was performed in the original French.
The performance was attended by Mme Marie Martin, the composer's widow, and was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
The Philharmonia Chorus took part in the UK première of Jeajoon Ryu's Sinfonia da Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Grzegorz Nowak at London's Cadogan Hall on April 12.
Composed to commemorate the late Ju-yung Chung, founder of Hyundai, Jeajoon Ryu's intense and powerful Sinfonia da Requiem was given an extended standing ovation at its world première at the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw in 2008. It was later recorded, and is available on the Naxos label. A review of the CD said that it is easy to see what the fuss was about.
Jeajoon Ryu s among today's most exciting orchestral composers. He studied under Krzystof Penderecki in Poland, and this work is certainly influenced by the Eastern European sound world. Composed as a tribute to the survivors who helped rebuild Korea following the Second World War and dedicated to Ju-yung Chung, the founder of Hyundai, the Sinfonia da Requiem is a substantial 45 minute work of four movements sung in Latin, and is scored for soprano, chorus and orchestra. It is a work of searing intensity and magisterial assurance. The soprano in this performance was In-Hye Kim, who took part in the world première and the recording.
The Philharmonia Chorus is proud to have taken part in the UK première of this important work. A recording of the performance can be heard on the Cadogan Hall website.
In the climax to our Christmas concert season, we are delighted to be back at the Royal Albert Hall on 20th December with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Choir of King's College, Cambridge under the baton of Stephen Cleobury. The programme includes the Chorus performing Vivaldi's Gloria, and the Choir of King's College, Cambridge singing a selection of Christmas carols. It's an evening of heart warming Christmas music with plenty of opportunity for the audience to exercise their voices too - the perfect way to get into the festive spirit!
The Philharmonia Chorus is delighted to have been invited to help celebrate the 75th Birthday of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea. This iconic Grade One listed building was designed by Erich Mendelsohn, the distinguished German modernist architect. Carmina Burana was composed in the same year, so with a German conductor, Stefan Bevier, what better way to mark two anniversaries than by this truly German event.
The Chorus performed the chamber version for two pianos and percussion prepared by Orff's disciple Wilhelm Killmayer in 1956 and authorized by Orff himself. The percussion is the same as in the full orchestral version, with 20 percussion instruments, on this occasion being played by percussionists from the Royal College of Music.
The Chorus recorded the choral music for the third series of the BBC Arthurian fantasy series Merlin in two sessions, one in August and the second in November. Composer Rob Lane and chorus master Deborah Miles-Johnson presided over the sessions, which took place at The Angel Studios, Islington, London. The new series of Merlin was screened on BBC1 on Saturday evenings from September to December 2010.