High-quality singing, innovative programmes and communicative performances are the hallmarks of Nonsuch Singers. Founded in 1977 and directed by Graham Caldbeck since 1996, the choir has gained a reputation for stylistic versatility in a cappella and accompanied works ranging from the Renaissance to the present day. It has frequently sought to make less familiar music accessible by exploring connections between established composers and lesser-known contemporary works.
Concerts over the past 14 seasons have featured more than 80 works by living British composers, some of whom – including Diana Burrell, Gabriel Jackson, Roxanna Panufnik, John Tavener and Judith Weir – have attended rehearsals of their music.
Nonsuch Singers, a choir of some 40 members, typically gives six or seven concerts a year, mostly in prominent London venues but also further afield, regularly performing with some of the UK’s leading instrumental ensembles and finest young vocal soloists.
Highlights have included Monteverdi’s Vespers with His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts at St Martin-in-the-Fields (recommended as “Critic’s Choice” in The Times); a critically acclaimed concert of French Baroque works, edited by Lionel Sawkins, with an orchestra led by Catherine Mackintosh and soloists including Andrew Kennedy and Emma Kirkby; and the first complete modern performance of Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer’s opera, Zaïde, Reine de Grenade, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
The choir has given a number of world premieres, including John Tavener’s Exhortation and Kohima in the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall (televised); Wild Ways, Roxanna Panufnik’s setting of Zen poems for double choir and shakuhachi; and The Land of Spices, an anthem by George Richford, commissioned by Choir & Organ magazine and performed at Ripon Cathedral.
The choir's 2012-13 season commences with a concert of German and Austrian choral music at St Giles, Cripplegate on 20 October, with guest conductor Elizabeth Burgess. This will be followed by an Advent concert conducted by JanJoost van Elburg on 8 December at St James' Piccadilly, featuring music by Victoria, Parsons, and Pärt, among others. Further plans for early 2013 include a concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields in February featuring Fauré's Requiem.