Current position: Chorus Director, City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses
Course: DMus, Honorary Degree, 2008
This mentor may be of interest to students studying Music, or those with an interest in musical / choral careers and music direction.
Simon Halsey is one of the world’s leading conductors of choral repertoire, regularly conducting prestigious orchestras and choirs worldwide. Halsey holds the position of Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, frequently collaborating with such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado and Marek Janowski. He has been Chorus Director of the CBSO Chorus for over 25 years, and works closely there with the orchestra’s Music Director Andris Nelsons. He is in his seventh season as Principal Conductor, Choral Programme for The Sage Gateshead and works on numerous choral projects each season at the venue, including regular concerts conducting the Northern Sinfonia.
Recent projects for Halsey with the Berlin Radio Choir have included performances of Bizet’s Carmen at the Salzburg Easter Festival 2012 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle. He furthermore prepared the choir for Tallis’ 40-part motet Spem in alium and Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus, in a programme with Mahler’s Eighth Symphony which concluded Musikfest Berlin, as well as for Jonathan Harvey’s grand new work Weltethos, which received its world premiere under the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle in October 2011.
Highlights of Simon Halsey’s work in Birmingham during the 2011/12 season include Symphony Hall’s 21st anniversary concerts in June where he will be conducting the CBSO and its Chorus in Elgar’s final, deeply personal masterpiece The Music Makers. In April 2012 at the Sage Gateshead, Halsey conducted the Northern Sinfonia and Chorus in a programme featuring works by Bach, Mozart and David Lang’s I Never.
Other recent highlights for Halsey have included a major choral project at New York’s Carnegie Hall featuring Mahler symphonies conducted by Valery Gergiev. Halsey himself conducted the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne in performances of J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, as well as guest engagements with the Bavarian Radio Choir, Netherlands Radio Choir and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
Halsey has worked on countless major recording projects, many of which have won major awards including several Gramophone Awards and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In February 2011 Halsey received his third Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for the recording of L’Amour de Loin by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, having previously won a Grammy in 2009 for the recording of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and a Grammy in 2008 for the choir’s recording of Brahms’s German Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Rattle.
In addition to the three Grammy winning recordings, Halsey has made four recordings conducting the Berlin Radio Choir: Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem recorded on Coviello Classics, XL, a disc of choral music including works by Tallis, Bach, Kodály and Harvey recorded on Harmonia Mundi; Christian Jost’s Angst and Simple Gifts, featuring works by Britten, Copland, Barber and Tippett, both on the Coviello label. With the CBSO Chorus Halsey has most recently recorded Julian Anderson’s Four American Choruses for NMC and English Choral Favourites for EMI.
Other landmark recordings include Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and John Shirley-Quirk; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on EMI, in a live recording with the CBSO Chorus, Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with CBSO Sir Simon Rattle Dame Janet Baker and Arleen Augér on EMI. Simon Halsey’s book and DVD Master Class Chorleitung was published by Schott Music in 2011.
In January 2011, Simon Halsey was presented with the prestigious Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse, Germany’s Order of Merit by State Cultural Secretary André Schmitz in Berlin. This is in recognition of outstanding services to choral music in Germany, having positioned the Rundfunkchor Berlin as an internationally renowned chorus and also acted as an ambassador for choral music in Germany.
Quotes from mentees
If Simon hadn’t mentioned studying abroad I would never have thought of it so the mentoring scheme is clearly worth it!