Conductor Simon Halsey joins VocalEssence for British Invasion

by John Birge, Minnesota Public Radio
October 22, 2009

St. Paul, Minn. — One of the finest choral conductors in the world crossed the pond from England this week to lead the VocalEssence singers in their "British Invasion" concert.

Simon Halsey has been chorus master of the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus for 28 years. He's also chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, which serves as the official chorus of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Does performing British music with an American choir mean taking a different approach? Simon Halsey tells Classical Minnesota Public Radio that every American choir is a little bit British. And German. And Scandinavian. And...

As for Halsey, he's as British as they come, steeped in the archetypal English choral music experience as a boy.

Halsey sang in the choirs of both New College, Oxford and King's College, Cambridge. And he comes from a long line of choral conductors. His grandfather studied with Charles Stanford -- whose music VocalEssence will sing in this program -- and his father worked with the famous English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Join VocalEssence and Simon Halsey for "British Invasion" on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 8:00 p.m. The performance is at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. You can hear my interview with Simon Halsey by clicking on the audio link to the right.

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