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BBC Symphony Chorus


BBC Symphony Chorus

The BBC Symphony Chorus is a British amateur chorus based in London. It is the dedicated chorus for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, though it performs with other national and international orchestras.

In its early years, the BBC worked on developing its choral output, founding the BBC Wireless Chorus, a professional chamber choir of 16, to supply the smaller scale needs. For bigger choral works, the BBC turned to outside organisations, which performed either under their own name, or under the title of "The National Chorus." Participating choruses included the Civil Service Choir, the Lloyds Choir, and the Railway Clearing House Men's Voice Choir, which would perform en-masse together with the Wireless Chorus.[1]

By 1928, the BBC had decided there was a need to develop a large amateur chorus of its own. Notices advertising the formation of The National Chorus were placed, auditions were held, a broadcast was delivered in August 1928 discussing the new choir and its upcoming programme, and the choir gave its first performance later that year in Granville Bantock's oratorio The Pilgrim's Progress. A condition of singing in the new choir was that the new member must already be a member of an existing choir.[2][3] Its earliest concerts included the UK premiere of Mahler's Eighth Symphony (15 April 1930)[3] and first performances of works by Bartók, Holst and Stravinsky under such conductors as Adrian Boult, Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter.[4] The choir's name was changed in 1932 to The BBC Chorus, and again in 1935 to become the BBC Choral Society when a professional choir named the BBC Chorus was established.[3] In 1939, Chorus Master Leslie Woodgate described the operation and function of the various BBC choirs, including the Choral Society, in an interview with The Musical Times.[5] In 1977, it adopted its current name of the BBC Symphony Chorus.[3][6] Although normally associated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Chorus does perform independently. Venues regularly visited include the Barbican Centre and the Royal Albert Hall. As the resident chorus at the BBC Proms, the Symphony Chorus usually performs both on the first and last night. In 2002 it performed at Buckingham Palace, as part of the Prom at the Palace which marked the Queen's golden jubilee celebrations. It makes regular recordings for classical music station BBC Radio 3.

The Chorus is directed by Stephen Jackson, who was appointed in 1989. Sir Andrew Davis, conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1989 to 2000, is President of the Chorus.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ - "READERS' of The Radio Times will remember announcements of the new National Chorus, which is destined to provide a permanent, amateur chorus, the members of which will be at the same time members of the existing amateur choral societies, to perform in important works on a big scale. For some time it had been the custom to get together a chorus formed of parties drawn from some of the big London choral societies, who sang with the professional Wireless Chorus ; but it was felt that the time had come to establish a permanent amateur chorus that could be called upon for the performance of the most important choral works. Ever since the announcement was made the work of giving auditions has been going on, although the actual selection will not begin until the last audition is over. In this evening's talk the full significance of this development, momentous in the history both of broadcasting and of choral singing-for permanent choirs of two hundred and fifty are not formed every day-will be explained, and the first season's work of the new organization will be outlined."
  3. ^ a b c d Letters from a Life: Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten ed. Donald Mitchell & Philip Reed. Faber, 1991: p. 169.
  4. ^ Profile of the BBC Symphony Chorus
  5. ^ "The B.B.C. Choral Society: Interview with Leslie Woodgate". The Musical Times 80 (1157): 493–495. July 1939.   JSTOR archive.
  6. ^ The Times, Thursday August 11, 1977, page 14: "The BBC Choral Society, formed in 1928 as the National Chorus, changes its name to the BBC Symphony Chorus from October 12."

External links

  • Official website
  • BBC Chorus - BBC Symphony Chorus - Short History
  • Stephen Jackson profile

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