Simon Halsey CBE

Photograph of Simon Halsey CBE

Professor and Director of Choral Activities

Contact details

I am a conductor and educator in choral music and particularly proud to try to bring together all the singers of Birmingham, one of the great international centres of choral endeavour.

Qualifications

BA, MA Cantab
Honorary degrees: MA Warwick, DUniv Birmingham City University, DMus University of Birmingham

Biography

Simon Halsey holds positions across the UK and Europe as Choral Director of London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Chorus Director of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Artistic Director of Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser of Palau de la Música, Barcelona, Artistic Director of Berliner Philharmoniker Youth Choral Programme, Director of BBC Proms Youth Choir; Artistic Advisor of Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Choir, Conductor Laureate of Rundfunkchor Berlin and Professor and Director of Choral Activities at University of Birmingham.

Simon Halsey occupies a unique position in classical music.  He is the trusted advisor on choral singing to the world’s greatest conductors, orchestras and choruses, and also an inspirational teacher and ambassador for choral singing to amateurs of every age, ability and background.  Making singing a central part of the world-class institutions with which he is associated, he has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe. 

He is also a highly respected teacher and academic, nurturing the next generation of choral conductors on his post-graduate course in Birmingham and through masterclasses at Princeton, Yale and elsewhere. He holds three honorary doctorates from universities in the UK, and in 2011 Schott Music published his book and DVD on choral conducting, Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert.

Halsey has worked on nearly 80 recording projects, many of which have won major awards, including the Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, Echo Klassik, and three Grammy Awards with the Rundfunkchor Berlin.  He was made Commander of the British Empire in 2015, was awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music in 2014, and received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany.

Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King’s College, Cambridge. and studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1987, he founded with Graham Vick the City of Birmingham Touring Opera. He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997 to 2008 and Principal Conductor of the Northern Sinfonia’s Choral Programme from 2004 to 2012. From 2001-2015 he led the Rundfunkchor Berlin (of which he is now Conductor Laureate); under his leadership the chorus gained a reputation internationally as one of the finest professional choral ensembles. Halsey also initiated innovative projects in unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats.

Simon Halsey is represented by Intermusica.

Teaching

Teacher of Masters in Choral Conducting at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; Director of Music at University of Warwick Music Centre; Regular Masterclasses in Hilversum (Netherlands Radio Choir) and Berlin (Berlin Radio Choir); Guest Lecturer and Conductor at Yale University.

Publications

Schott Master Class Chorleitung:

“Vom Konzept zum Konzert” (incl. 2 DVDs)
October 2011
ISBN: 978-3-7957-0755-2, ED 21050

Faber New Choral Works:

Adés, Thomas
Fayrfax Carol, The (SATB unaccompanied)
January Writ (SATB)
Anderson, Julian
I’m A Pilgrim (SATB)
My Beloved Spake (in prep.)
Andrew. Kerry
Maranatha (SATB)
Dove, Jonathan
Ecce Beatam Lucem (SATB)
Into Thy Hands (SATB unaccompanied)
Seek Him That Maketh The Seven Stars (SATB)
Wellcome All Wonders In One Sight! (SATB unaccompanied)
Who Killed Cock Robin? (SATB unaccompanied)
Einfelde, Maija
Ave Maria (SATB)
Goodall, Howard
In Memoriam Anne Frank (SATB)
Jubilate Deo (SATB)
Lord Is My Shepherd, The (Psalm 23) (SATB)
Lord Is My Shepherd, The (Psalm 23) (SSA)
Lord Is My Shepherd, The (Psalm 23) (TTBB)
Love Divine (SATB)
Love Divine (SSAA)
Marlborough Canticles (SATB)
Gordon, Michael Zev
And I Will Betroth You (SATB unaccompanied)
Grier, Francis
Alleluis! I Bring You News (SATB unaccompanied)
Two Advent Responsories (SATB unaccompanied)
Harvey, Jonathan
Remember, O Lord (SATB unaccompanied)
Hayes, Malcolm
Corpus Christi (SATB) (in prep.)
Hindson, Matthew
Home (from Heartland) (SATB)
Keeling, Andrew
Ave Verum Corpus (SATB)
Lauridsen, Morten
Ave Dulcissima Maria (TTBB unaccompanied)
O Magnum Mysterium (SATB unaccompanied)
O Nata Lux (SATB unaccompanied)
L’Estrange, Alexander
e-Motion (in prep.)
Let All The World In Every Corner Sing (in prep.)
Lute-Book Lullaby (SATB)
Lute-Book Lullaby (SATB a cappella/unacc.)
Three Prayers (in prep.)
Marshall, Wayne
Macnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C (SSAA)
Matthews, Colin
Angel’s Carol, The (SATB unaccompanied)
Moore, Philip
Lo! God Is Here! (SATB)
Pitts, Antony
Adoro Te (SATB unaccompanied)
Libera Me/Lamentations 5 (SATB unaccompanied)
Rouwkema, Daniel
Celtic Prayer, A (SATB)
Sculthorpe, Peter
Morning Song (SATB)/Birthday Of Thy King (SSATBB)
Woolrich, John
Spring In Winter (SATB unaccompanied)

Choral Programme Series:

Upper Voices
All The Things You Are (Jazz Classics) (in prep.)
Autumn Leaves (Jazz Classics) (in prep.)
Banuwa (Brewer) (SSAA) (in prep.)
Choral Works (SSA) (Goodall)
Classic English Folksongs (SSA)
Eight Partsongs (Schumann) (SSA)
Eight Romantic Partsongs (Brahms) (SSAA)
Fly Me To The Moon (Jazz Classics) (SSA)
French Motets (SA)
Gaudete! (SSA unaccompanied)
Girl From Ipanema (SSA)
Godspell & Children Of Eden Choruses (SSA)
Good News! (SSAA)
Gospel Christmas, A (SSA)
Liverpool Oratoria Selection (McCartney) (SSA)
Hamba Lulu (Brewer) (SSAA)
How High The Moon (in prep.)
Mamma Mia and other ABBA Hits! (SSA)
Memory & Other Choruses from Cats (SSA)
Merry Christmas Everybody! (SSA)
Six Motets (Fauré and Saint-Saëns) (SA)
Three Carols (Britten) (SA)
Three Partsongs (Schubert) (SSAA_)
Yesterday & other Classic Pop Ballads (SSA)

Mixed Voices (SATB)
All The Things You Are (Jazz Classics) (in prep.)
Autumn Leaves (Jazz Classics) (in prep.)
Banuwa (Brewer)
Chansons Des Roses, Les
Christmas Celebration, A
Christ’s Nativity (Britten)
Classic Victorian Ballads
Easter Celebration, An
English Sacred Music (Tallis)
Fair Oriana
Feel The Spirit
Five American Folksongs
Five Anthems (Purcell)
Five English Folksongs
Five Partsongs (Holst)
Five Spirituals
Five Welsh Carols
Four Partsongs (Schubert)
Fly Me To The Moon (Jazz Classics)
Four Choruses (Dvořák)
Four Sacred Choruses (Mendelssohn)
French Chansons
Girl From Ipanema
Godspell & Children Of Eden Choruses
Gospel Christmas, A
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Choruses I
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Choruses II
Great Sacred Choruses (J S Bach)
Great Unaccompanied Motets (Bruckner)
Hamba Lulu (Brewer)
How High The Moon (Jazz Classics) (in prep.)
Irish Folksong Arrangements (Goodall)
King’s Singers Standards Arrangements (Naylor) (in prep.)
Liverpool Oratorio Selection (McCartney)
Madrigali: Six Fire Songs (Lauridsen)
Mamma Mia and other ABBA hits!
Masterpieces Of The French Baroque
Masterworks From The Russian Orthodox Church
Memory & Other Choruses From Cats
Merry Christmas Everybody!
Musicke’s Praier
My Dancing Day
Nocturnes (Lauridsen)
Opera Choruses (Verdi)
Passetime With Good Company (unaccompanied)
Passiontide Masterworks
Ready To Ride!
Seven Partsongs (Parry)
Seven Partsongs (Stanford)
Six Motets (Mozart)
Six Sacred Choruses (Bruckner)
Three Choral Hymns (Vaughan Williams)
Three German Carols
Three Jewish Songs (Skeaping) (in prep.)
Two Early Works (Vaughan Williams) (in prep.)

Discography

Adès: America A Prophesy
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
EMI 57610 (2004)

Anderson: Four American Choruses
City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
BCMG, Sakari Oramo, Oliver Knussen and Martyn Brabbins
NMC D121 (October 2006)

Britten: The Prodigal Son
City of Birmingham Touring Opera, Birmingham Contemparary Music Group
BBC MM74 (1998)

Britten: Lets Make an Opera (DVD)
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus & Youth Chorus, Coull QuartetArthaus musik (2000), ZDF TV Germany

Bruckner: Mass in E Minor, Motets
City Of Birmingham Symphony Chorus & Orchestra Winds
Conifer CDCF192 (1990)

Jost, Christian: Angst
Berlin Radio Choir, Muiskfabrik
Coviello (July 2006)

Rossini: Petite Messe Solenelle
City Of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Conifer CDCF184 (1990)

Various: XL
Berlin Radio Choir
Antony Pitts XL for 40 voices
Harmonia Mundi HMC801873 (2005)

Various: English Partsongs (2 Discs) – works by Elgar, Holst, Delius and Grainger
City Of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Conifer 75605517522 (1995)

Various: English Choral Favourites
City Of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
EMI 09463614992 (2006)

Various: Simple gifts – works by Britten, Copland, Barber and Tippett
Berlin Radio Choir
Coviello (September 2006)

Various: Classic Hymns – works by J.S. Bach, Stanford, Goss, Tallis, Stainer, Wesley, Irvine, Parry and Vaughan Williams
City Of Birmingham Symphony Chorus & Orchestra Brass
Conifer CDCF502 (1990)

Bartok: The Miraculous Mandarin
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 5550942 (1994)

Beethoven: Christus am Oelberge
Berlin Radio Choir, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin
Kent Nagano, conductor
Harmonia Mundi HMC 801802 (2003)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 724355757227 (2003)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Walter Weller, conductor
Chandos 8750

Berlioz: The Damnation of Faust
Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus
Myung-Whun Chung, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 028945350028 (1998)

Berlioz: Requiem
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre
Valery Gergiev, conductor
EMI 58118

Bernstein: Mass (2 Discs)
Berlin Radio Choir, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester
Kent Nagano, conductor
Pacific Mozart Ensemble, Staats-und Domchor Berlin
Harmonia Mundi / HMC 901840.41 (2005)

Boulanger: Psalm 24 and Psalm 130
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, BBC Philharmonic
Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor
Chandos 9745

Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
Berlin Radio Choir, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 3653932 (2007)

Britten: Britten Collection (8 Disc)
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 5757922 (2002)

Britten: Saint Nicolas / Hymn to Saint Cecilia
English Chamber Orchestra, Corydon Singers, Girls of Warwick University Chamber Choir, Choristers Of St George's Chapel Windsor
Matthew Best, conductor
Hyperion CDA66333

Britten: War Requiem
City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 7470342 (1983)

Busoni: Piano Concerto
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus Men
Mark Elder, conductor
Hyperion 67143 (1999)

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDS7495492 (2000)

Haydn: The Creation (2 Discs)
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDS7541592 (1991)

Haydn: The Creation
Academy of Ancient Music Chorus and Orchestra
Christopher Hogwood, conductor
Decca 4303972 (1990)

Liszt: Dante Symphony
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Gianandrea Noseda
Chandos 10524 (2009)

MacMillan: Quickening
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus & Youth Chorus
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Hilliard Ensemble
James MacMillan, conductor
Chandos (2007)

Mahler: Das Klagende Lied
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDM5664062 (1997)

Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (2 Discs)
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDS7479628 (1987)

Mahler: Symphony No. 3 (2 Discs)
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDS5566572 (1998)

Mahler: Symphony No. 3
City of Birmingham Symphony Youth Chorus, Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 4715022 (2002)

Mahler: Symphony No. 8
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Chorus & Youth Chorus
London Symphony Chorus, Toronto Children's Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 7243 5 57945 2 9 (2005)

Mahler: Symphony No. 8
Berlin Radio Choir, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin
Kent Nagano, conductor
Harmonia Mundi / HMC901858.59 (2005)

Mascagni: Il Piccolo Marat
Netherlands Radio Choir, Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra
Kees Bakels, conductor
GB 21692 (1992)

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 2 in B flat major ‘Lobgesang’
Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus
Walter Weller, conductor
Chandos 8995 (1991)

Monteverdi: Orfeo
European Voices
Emmanuelle Haim, conductor
Virgin Classics Veritas 45642 (2004)

Orff: Carmina Burana
Berlin Radio Choir, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 5578882 (2005)

Poulenc: Gloria
Netherlands Radio Choir, Concertgebouw Orchestra
Mariss Jansons, conductor
RCO Live

Pärt: Collage
Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Chandos 9134 (1993)

Prokofiev: Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution Op. 74 / Tale of the Stone Flower Op. 11 (Excerpts)
Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Chandos 9095 (1992)

Purcell: Dido & Aeneas
European Voices, Le Concert d’Astree
Emmanuelle Haim, conductor
Virgin 5456042 (2003)

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé / Boléro
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDE5747502 (2001)

Ravel: L'enfant et les sortilèges Ma Mère l’oye (Mother Goose suite)
Berlin Radio Choir, Berlin Philharmonic
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 2641972 (2009)

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder
Berlin Radio Choir, Leipzig Radio Choir, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 5573003 2 (2002)

Schumann: Szenen aus Goethes Faust
Netherlands Radio Choir, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
RCO Live 09001 (2009)

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 ‘Babi Yar’
Netherlands Radio Choir, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic
Mark Wigglesworth, conductor
BIS – SACD - 1543

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 ‘babi Yar’
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, City of Birmingham Choir, University of Warwick Chorus, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Okko Kamu, conductor
Chandos 8540

Saariaho: L'amour de loin
Berlin Radio Choir, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester
Kent Nagano, conductor
Harmonia Mundi (2006)

Stravinsky: Syphony of Psalms/ Symphony in C / Symphony in 3 movements
Berlin Radio Choir, Berlin Philharmonic
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 2 07630 0 (2008)

Syzmanowski: Harnasie
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 3 64435 2 (2006)

Szymanowski: King Roger / Symphony No. 4
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Chorus & Youth Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDS5568232 (1999)

Szymanowski: Stabat Mater / Litany to the Virgin Mary / Symphony No. 3
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDC5551212 (1994)

Tippett: A Child of our Time
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Sir Michael Tippett, conductor
Naxos 8557570 (2005)

Various: Angel Dances, The 12 Cellists from the Berlin Philharmonic
Berlin Radio Choir
EMI 3570302 (2006)

Various: Leaving Home
Schoeneberg: A Survivor from Warsaw
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI 5661362 (1996)

Verdi: Falstaff
Berlin Radio Choir, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon DG 471-194-2 (2001)

Wagner: Orchestral Music: Parsifal: Prelude and Good Friday Music / Tannhäuser: Overture / Tristan und Isolde: Vorspiel und Liebestod
Swedish Radio Choir, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 000098502 (2003)

Walton: Belshazzar’s Feast / Symphony No. 1
Orchestra Chorus Cleveland, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
EMI CDC5565922 (1998)

Wolf: Der Feuerreiter
Berlin Radio Choir, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Kent Nagano, conductor
Harmonia Mundi / HMC 901837 (2006)