Formed in 1920, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs is Australiaís largest choral organisation and occupies a unique position in the performing arts world. With four choirs - the 32-voice Chamber Singers, the 100-voice Symphony Chorus, the youth-focussed 25-voice Vox and the 300-voice Festival Chorus - Sydney Philharmonia presents its own annual concert series in the Sydney Opera House and City Recital Hall Angel Place, as well as acting as chorus for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Sydney Philharmonia has worked with conductors such as Eugene Ormandy, Otto Klemperer, Sir David Willcocks, Sir Charles Mackerras, Edo de Waart, Charles Dutoit, Christopher Hogwood, Mark Elder, John Nelson, Richard Hickox and Bruno Weil. Previous Musical Directors have included Mats Nilsson, Antony Walker, John Grundy and Peter Seymour.
In August 2002, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs toured to the UK to perform Gustav Mahlerís Eighth Symphony under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle as part of the BBC London Proms series at Royal Albert Hall. They were the first Australian choir to sing at the Proms. This tour also included a concert at Kingís College Chapel, Cambridge, and a performance of Sergei Rachmaninovís Vespers in Worcester Cathedral as part of the Three Choirs Festival.
Other highlights include: L.v. Beethovenís Symphony No. 9 in a worldwide satellite TV broadcast as part of the Opening Ceremony of the Nagano Winter Olympics (1998); two concerts with Barbra Streisand during her Timeless tour and recording a CD of this tour; G. Mahlerís Eighth Symphony as the opening concert of the Olympic Arts Festival in August 2000; and performing in the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the 27th Olympiad in Sydney. In 2003 Sydney Philharmonia performed and recorded for CD two world premieres: Andrew Schultz and Gordon Williamsí Journey to Horseshoe Bend with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and John Tavenerís Lament for Jerusalem with the Australian Youth Orchestra. In 2004 they toured to Melbourne for a performance of Arnold Schoenbergís Gurre-Lieder as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
In 2006 a busy schedule included performances of Igor Stravinskyís The Rite of Spring with the Australian Youth Orchestra and the MSO Chief Conductor, Oleg Caetani, performances of the highly acclaimed Requiem by Australian composer, Peter Sculthorpe, and recording much of the vocal music for the film Happy Feet. In 2007 highlights include a performance of Benjamin Brittenís War Requiem at the UWA Perth International Arts Festival, the premiere performances of their new Festival Chorus and a tour to Hobart to work with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Choir.
Sydney Philharmonia has five choirs:
- the 32-voice Chamber Singers
- the 100-voice Symphony Chorus
- the youth-focused 70-voice Vox
- the 300-voice Festival Chorus
- the Massed Choir.
The choirs perform different types of works throughout each season.