The English Chamber Choir, an important exponent of the British choral tradition for more than three decades, is based in London, where it appears regularly in all the major venues. It visits festivals and concert societies throughout Great Britain and abroad and traveled to Belgium in 1995 to celebrate the Purcell centenary in the 16th-century Abbey of Our Lady of Lombeek, and in 2002 to give a concert and commemorative Anglican evensong service in a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp as part of an ecumenical international conference on the martyred first English Bible translator, William Tyndale. Together with its founder and director, Guy Protheroe, one of England's most versatile musicians, the choir prides itself on its exceptionally varied repertoire and concert schedule. It has worked with Vangelis, Barrington Pheloung, and the French composer Eric Levi, and is heard on the soundtracks of the films 1492: Conquest of Paradise; Les Visiteurs; Nostradamus; and The Count of Monte Cristo. Since 1977, the choir has sung regularly with its own orchestra, the English Players—a flexible group using both period and modern instruments—and in the concert hall has presented the Monteverdi Vespers; Bach's Passions, Magnificat and B-minor Mass; Handel's Messiah (at St. John's Smith Square); the Mozart Requiem; and Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius (as part of the Chelsea Festival). Equally at home in a cappella programs, the choir has performed Purcell coronation anthems and Britten’s early song cycle AMDG, as well as works by Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Bax, and Poulenc. At London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall it gave a concert in 1988 of contemporary pieces inspired by Byzantine chant and other Eastern Orthodox traditions, and the British premiere of a work by the Greek composer Ilias Andriopoulos.
The choir made its first foray into Jewish music at the international Salomon Sulzer commemoration and congress (“A Voice for Our Time”) in London in 1991, when, under guest conductor Neil Levin, it sang a program of Hebrew liturgical repertoire, including the London premiere of a setting of l'kha dodi by Ignaz von Seyfried.
By: Neil W. Levin