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Simon Halsey (Choral Conductor)

Born: March 8, 1958 - Kingston, Surrey, England

The English choral conductor, Simon Patrick Halsey, studied at the Winchester College (1971-1975; King's College, Cambridge (1976-1970). MA(Cantab). He sang in both Choir of New College, Oxford and King's College Choir Cambridge. He was Conducting Scholar at the Royal College of Music in London (1979-1980).

Simon Halsey was conductor of the Scottish Opera-Go-Round (1980, 1981); Director of Music at the University of Warwick (1980-1988). Since 1982 (or 1983), Since 1983, he has been the Chorus Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus (CBSC). He founded the City of Birmingham Youth Chorus in 1995. His position with the CBSC brings him into regular contact with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, working closely there with the orchestra’s Music Director Andris Nelsons, including as conductor of the annual Christmas Concerts. In 1987, he founded the City of Birmingham Touring Opera and has been its Music Director (since 2001 the Birmingham Opera Company) with leading international opera director Graham Vick. Among the notable produtions was Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in 1990-1991.

In addition, Simon Halsey is Associate Director of the Philharmonia Chorus (from 1986); Director of the Academy of Ancient Music Chorus (from 1988); Director of the Salisbury Festival (from 1989); Chorus Director of the Flanders Opera in Antwerp (from 1991); Artistic Director and founder of the professional choir European Voices. He is in his seventh season as Principal Conductor, Choral Programme for The Sage Gateshead and works on numerous choral projects each season at the venue, including regular concerts conducting the Northern Sinfonia as Principal Conductor, Choral Programme. He is Artistic Director and founder of the professional choir European Voices,. Halsey served as Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir (Groot Omroepkoor) since 1997, and relinquished this position in 2008. Since April 2001, Halsey holds the position of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berlin Radio Choir (Rundfunkchor Berlin), frequently collaborating with such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado and Marek Janowski.

Simon Halsey is one of the world’s leading conductors of choral repertoire, regularly conducting prestigious orchestras and choirs worldwide. He has worked with orchestras and choirs all over the world. He has also conducted projects as diverse as George Frideric Handel's Messiah with the Minnesota Orchestra and Gabriel Fauré's Requiem with the CBSC and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

Upcoming projects for Halsey with the Berlin Radio Choir include performances of Georges Bizet’s Carmen at the Salzburg Easter Festival 2012 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. He will furthermore prepare the choir for Tallis’ 40-part motet Spem in alium and Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus, in a programme with Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony to conclude Musikfest Berlin, as well as for Jonathan Harvey’s grand new work Weltethos, which will receive its world premiere under the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. The German Choral Association has invited the Berlin Radio Choir and Simon Halsey to be Artists-in-Residence at 2011 in Dortmund where Halsey will be directing the Johannes BrahmsRequiem in a sing-along concert and presenting his new book and DVD Master Class Chorleitung, published by Schott Music.

Highlights of Simon Halsey’s work in Birmingham during the 2011-2012 season include Symphony Hall’s 21st anniversary concerts in June where he will be conducting the CBSO and its Chorus in Edward Elgar’s final, deeply personal masterpiece The Music Makers. At the Sage Gateshead, Halsey will be conducting the Northern Sinfonia and Chorus in a programme featuring works by J.S. Bach, Mozart and David Lang’s I Never. Recent highlights for Halsey have included a major choral project at New York’s Carnegie Hall featuring Gustav Mahler symphonies conducted by Valery Gergiev. Halsey himself conducted the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln in performances of J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion (BWV 244), as well as guest engagements with the Bavarian Radio Choir, Netherlands Radio Choir and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

Simon Halsey has also been involved with numerous recordings, with over 20 under his name for EMI, Conifer, Chandos, Hyperion and Decca, including Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle and Bruckner's Mass in E minor (1990). In 2006 he conducted the CBSC in their first completely choral recording, an album of English Choral Favourites. He has worked on countless major recording projects, many of which have won major awards including several Gramophone Awards and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In February 2011 Halsey received his third Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for the recording of L’Amour de Loin by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, having previously won a Grammy in 2009 for the recording of Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and a Grammy in 2008 for the choir’s recording of Johannes Brahms’s German Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle. In addition to the three Grammy winning recordings, Halsey has made four recordings conducting the Berlin Radio Choir: Johannes Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem recorded on Coviello Classics, XL, a disc of choral music including works by Tallis, J.S. Bach, Zoltán Kodály and Harvey recorded on Harmonia Mundi; Christian Jost’s Angst and Simple Gifts, featuring works by Benjamin Britten, Copland, Samuel Barber and Tippett, both on the Coviello label. With the CBSO Chorus Halsey has most recently recorded Julian Anderson’s Four American Choruses for NMC and English Choral Favourites for EMI. Other landmark recordings include Edward Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and John Shirley-Quirk; L.v. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on EMI, in a live recording with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Wiener Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle and Gustav Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and Arleen Augér on EMI.

In addition, Simon Halsey is consultant editor on Faber Music's Choral Programme Series of sheet music.

In January 2011, Simon Halsey was presented with the prestigious Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse, Germany’s Order of Merit by State Cultural Secretary André Schmitz in Berlin. This is in recognition of outstanding services to choral music in Germany, having positioned the Rundfunkchor Berlin as an internationally renowned chorus and also acted as an ambassador for choral music in Germany.

Simon Halsey married Lucy Lunt on June 14, 1986. They live outside Birmingham and have two children.

More Photos

Source: International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93); Wikipedia Website (February 2012); Intermusica Website (June 2011)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Simon Rattle

Chorus Master

BWV 244 [1st, DVD], BWV 244 [2nd, Video], BWV 245 [2nd, Video]
[All w/
Rundfunkchor Berlin]

Links to other Sites

Simon Halsey - Conductor (Intermusica)

Simon Halsey (Wikipedia)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Monday, May 29, 2017 06:19