The English choral conductor, Nigel Short, began his musical life as a chorister at Solihull Parish Church going on to study singing and piano at the Royal College of Music in London. He was a member The Tallis Scholars (Director: Peter Phillips), Westminster Abbey Choir, Westminster Cathedral Choir, The King’s Singers and various other specialist choral groups before going on to concentrate on work as a soloist in oratorio and opera. As a young counter-tenor he was soon working with various opera companies, was in demand as an oratorio and early music soloist, and sang many roles in opera productions all over Europe and for ENO and Opera North here in the UK.
In 1993, Nigel Short joined the world-renowned vocal ensemble the King’s Singers. Whilst touring the world with them Nigel began to seriously consider the possibility of starting up a new choral group which would combine a larger force of singers with movement around the performance venue as well as considerations of lighting, ambience, time and space. It would not only mean that the singers were more physically involved in the performance but also that the audiences could become caught up in the experience. This would be a team that had all the discipline and precision of a world-class ensemble yet with the dynamic power and range of a large choral group. Such a team would be able to use ecclesiastical buildings as a performance space, combining his love of traditional choral repertoire with a more “theatrical” style of performing.
Tenebrae is a dream realised for Nigel Short. Like many such ideas, the realisation of the dream eventually came about through discussions with like-minded musicians, singers and friends, who together realised the formation of Tenebrae - a combination of talented composers and arrangers, pianists and organists, specialists of jazz and renaissance, instrumentalists and singers.
In 2001, Nigel Short started working with writer Richard McDonald in Switzerland to create a work that could be the vehicle with which to launch Tenebrae. The result was Nigel’s own composition The Dream of Herod, a production that captured not only the sound of Tenebrae but also incorporated strong visual images, movement and lighting effects in beautiful performance spaces. A CD and DVD recording of the work were made and the group gave its debut performance and the world première of the piece at St Bartholomew the Great in London (the church featured in films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth the Golden Age and most recently Sherlock Holmes).
Since then, Nigel Short has continued the touring life with Tenebrae as they perform in many of the world’s most prestigious music festivals. Bermuda, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the USA and the UK are countries where the group has enjoyed particular success and the list of destinations continues to grow.
Nigel Short has now conducted several of the world’s finest orchestras alongside Tenebrae both in concert and in recordings including the London Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and in Baroque repertoire, The English Concert. and next season he will be in Madrid preparing ORCAM for a Gustav Mahler Symphony. He has also made recordings with many of the world’s major record labels including EMI Classics, Warner Classics, Decca Records, LSO Live and the fast emerging independent label Signum Records with whom he has worked closely on many projects right from the start of Tenebrae’s existence with Signum’s director Steve Long. Short is chorus master for the Royal College of Music Chorus, director of music at St Bartholomew the Great in London and also works with the amateur choir Vox Coelestis who put on regular charity performances throughout the UK. He frequently produces CD’s for vocal ensembles.
Nigel is married to the soprano Grace Davidson and lives with her and their two children in London.