The English tenor, Christopher Watson, studied music at Exeter University, and after spending a number of years as a Lay Clerk in the choirs of Durham Cathedral and then Christ Church, Oxford, he moved to London in 1997 when he was appointed as Lay Clerk in the choir of Westminster Cathedral. With the cathedral choirs he has sung in a great many successful concerts and highly acclaimed recordings and at the same time has established a reputation as one of the most sought after tenors in the Early Music field. He now lives in Oxford and divides his time between solo sing, consort work and conducting.
As a soloist Christopher Watson is particularly interested in the Baroque repertoire, and he has become well known for his informed and intelligent performances of the part of the Evangelist in the great Baroque settings of The Passion by J.S. Bach and his contemporaries. His repertoire also covers Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle and Benjamin Britten's St Nicolas, As a recitalist he has explored much of the 20th Century English repertoire, in particular songs by Howells, Finzi and Warlock and successfully presents fascinating and entertaining programmes.
Recent solo performances have included J.S. Bachís Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) with Le Concert Lorrain, his Köthener Trauermusick with the Lautten Compganey Berlin, recorded for broadcast by Deutschlandfunk, and Purcellís Ode for St Cecilia at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with the Gabrieli Consort. Solo performances have also included Igor Stravinskyís Canticum Sacrum with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Pilate in Arvo Pärtís Passio at Gloucester Cathedral, and Purcellís Ode for St Cecilia in Beaune with the Gabrieli Consort. He has collaborated with Trevor Pinnock in concerts of Purcell Welcome Odes at the Handel Festival in Halle, and has achieved great critical acclaim for his performances of the Evangelist in J.S. Bachís St John Passion (BWV 245) and St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) - most recently at the Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, at the Durham, Canterbury and Manchester Cathedrals and at the Cathedral Church of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. Recent performances have also included J.S. Bachís B Minor Mass (BWV 232) for the Northampton Bach Choir, Monteverdiís Vespers at the Lichfield Cathedral, George Frideric Handelís Messiah at the Hereford Cathedral and Sherborne Abbey, and G.F. Handelís Dixit Dominus at Bath Abbey. In 2007 he made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York with Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier, giving the World Premiere of David Langís Little Match Girl Passion, which subsequently won a Pulitzer Prize. He has performed this work all over the world, including the Perth Festival in Australia and the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuata in Mexico. More recent performances include the extensive tenor solos in Sir John Tavenerís all night vigil The Veil Of The Temple, at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam as part of the Holland Festival.
Other engagements include the first performance of The Stones of the Arch by Gavin Bryars with the Kronos Quartet, Monteverdiís Vespers in Tuscany with Philippe Herreweghe, in Wrocław and Venice with Paul McCreesh, and in Denmark and Sweden with Paul Hillier and Concerto Copenhagen; Felix Mendelssohnís Elijah in Wells Cathedral and a European tour of Orlando di Lassoís Lagrime di San Pietro with Philippe Herreweghe. He has made several appearances at the Proms in London and has performed in cathedrals, concert halls and festivals all over the world, including San Marco in Venice, Notre Dame in Paris, Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center in New York, Edinburgh Festival, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (with the Gabrieli Consort), etc.
Christopher Watson has made more than 50 recordings, including several discs of Dufay and Josquin, Heinrich Schützí Resurrection History with Ars Nova Copenhagen, David Langís The Little Match Girl Passion with Theatre of Voices (this recording won a Grammy Award in January 2010), Orlando di Lasso (Lassus) motets and Penitential Psalms with Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent, J.S. Bachís Motets with Sette Voci and Peter Kooy, and the 1575 Cantiones Sacrae of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd with Alamire, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the coronation of King Henry the 8th. With Theatre of Voices he has given performances of Stockhausenís Stimmung, and with them has recorded Luciano Berioís A Ronne and Arvo Pärtís Stabat Mater (June 2010), both of which will be released by Harmonia Mundi later this year.
Christopher Watson has a great deal of international experience as a consort singer - he is a member of The Tallis Scholars, with whom he has made more than 250 appearances, Tenebrae, Gallicantus, Alamire and the Gramophone Award winning ensembles The Clerks' Group and The Binchois Consort. He has worked with the viol consorts Fretwork and Phantasm, sings regularly with Polyphony, Ex Cathedra, Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, Cardinallís Musick, The Kingís Consort, Theatre of Voices, the Soloists of Collegium Vocale Gent and Nederlandse Bachvereniging.
Christopher Watson ís conducting experience started in Exeter, where he ran the University Chapel Choir, and he went on to run Durham University Chamber Choir and the Arcadian Singers of Oxford. He has taught on the Tallis Scholars Summer School, leading consort workshops and directing Compline. Since 2006 he has run the Oxford-based chamber choir, Sospiri. Under his direction, Sospiri have performed in the UK, France and Italy, and recorded five CDís to critical acclaim. The choir have also become recognised for their performances of plainsong: including a reconstructed pre-Reformation Vespers and Compline in Oxford, and the complete Tridentine Rite for Holy Week in Trieste. Sospiri sing Latin Vespers every term in Merton College, Oxford. Christopherís interests stretch from Medieval repertoire to contemporary music, and Sospiri have given several premieres, most notably works by John Duggan, the choirís co-founder. They are currently planning their third French tour and their first American one.