The Sixteen - Harry Christophers
Conductor Harry Christophers is known internationally as the founder and director of the Sixteen. Earning accolades and awards for recordings with the Sixteen and the Handel and Haydn Society, Christophers has also taken up the baton at opera houses and festivals in Europe. Christophers and the Sixteen established the Coro label in 2001, issuing more than 100 recordings since. Christophers was born on December 26, 1953, in Goudhurst, Kent, England. He was educated at the Canterbury Cathedral Choir School and Magdalen College, Oxford. He founded the Sixteen, and its accompanying instrumental ensemble, in 1977. Christophers' emphasis with the Sixteen is in the performance of early English polyphony, but also in a varied repertoire from the Renaissance to contemporary composers. He has led the Sixteen on tours throughout Europe, America, Australia, and Asia. To perform music for choir and orchestra, Christophers founded the Symphony of Harmony & Invention. In 2000, in celebration of the new millennium, Christophers and the Sixteen embarked on what has become an annual tradition with a "Choral Pilgrimage." Christophers leads his group in performance at cathedrals throughout England, celebrating the 20th anniversary in 2020 with The Call to Rome. Along with his duties with the Sixteen, Christophers has performed as a guest conductor with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, and the St. Louis Symphony. As an operatic conductor, his repertoire includes Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse, Gluck's Orfeo, Handel's Ariodante, and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. In his 2000 debut with the English National Opera, he conducted Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea. He makes regular appearances with the English National Opera and the Lisbon Opera. In 2009, Christophers expanded his workload when he became the artistic director of the Handel and Haydn Society, the oldest continuously performing musical ensemble in the U.S. In that capacity, he oversaw the transformation of a venerable, but conservative, American community organization into a state-of-the-art historical performance group, releasing new recordings of such standard Handel and Haydn repertory as Haydn's The Creation (2013). Christophers' works with the Sixteen have continued at a breakneck pace, with several dozen recordings appearing between 2010 and 2020. In addition to conducting, Christophers generally contributes a short note explaining his attraction to the music and his reasons for wanting to record it. He has generally stuck to his core Baroque and Renaissance repertory but has ventured forward to Mozart and as far as contemporary music. English audiences, especially, have responded to Christophers' direct, personable approach, and his albums have earned heavy airplay on the radio as well as strong sales. The Sixteen's recordings, as well as those of Handel and Haydn Society, have appeared on Coro since the label was established by Christophers and the Sixteen. To celebrate the group's 40th anniversary in 2019, Christophers and the Sixteen released 40, a compilation of recordings from throughout their history. In addition to The Call to Rome, Christophers was also heard leading The Sixteen and the Britten Sinfonia on a recording of music by James MacMillan. His recordings have been awarded Grand Prix du Disque honors, three Deutsche Schallplatten prizes, four Diapason d'Or awards, and the 1992 Gramophone Early Music Award (for the first of the five-volume series Music From the Eton Choirbook). In 2012, Christophers was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
© Tivo Staff /TiVo
© Tivo Staff /TiVo
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Classical - Released March 2, 2018 | Coro
The Sixteen are prolific enough that one wonders why they need to slice and dice previous releases for reissues. Yet freshness of programming is one reason this English choir (actually bulked up to 18 for most of these works) is a consistent best-seller. To a selection of works by Britten and William Cornysh (probably a father-son pair, but reasonably enough treated as a single composer here) they add three new recordings of works by Cornysh to create an original program. This is fairly novel, and it promises to have the primary feature of a really good thematic program, namely, that it illuminates other facets about the composers involved in addition to its external idea. In this case, that means the mutual influences of sacred and secular forms in the music of these two composers. But the program does more than that: it reflects as well on Britten and the nature of his relationship to the English musical past. Britten was a composer who took a great deal from the English choral tradition without being neo-anything, and this album puts those borrowings into perspective. One might note that the final work, the rarely recorded Sacred and Profane (Britten's last choral work) fits the first aim well enough but is not really comfortable in the second context, and in fact breaks the mood somewhat. But fans of The Sixteen will find the choir's usual competence and freshness here. © TiVo