Professor Simon Halsey CBE

Photograph of Simon Halsey CBE

Professor and Director of Choral Activities

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.


  • BA, MA (Cantab) 

Honorary degrees

  • MA (Warwick)
  • DUniv (Birmingham City University)
  • DMus (University of Birmingham)
  • DMus (University of Aberdeen)


  • Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany), 2010
  • Queen’s Medal for Music, 2014


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; as an ambassador for choral singing to amateurs of every age, ability and background he has led ground-breaking massed choral events, notably for New York’s Lincoln Center.

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 holds positions across the UK and Europe as Chorus Director of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Principal Guest Conductor and Choral Ambassador of Orfeó Català, Principal Guest Conductor at WDR Rundfunkchor, Conductor Laureate of Rundfunkchor Berlin, Choral Director Emeritus of London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and Professor and Director of Choral Activities at University of Birmingham. His work is the subject of the documentary film Unsere Herzen – Ein Klang (Our Hearts – One Sound), which was released to cinemas in September 2022.

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 in Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA. He holds four 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’s numerous awards include three Grammys for his recordings 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 Birmingham Opera Company. 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.


I teach the postgraduate programme in Choral Conducting at Birmingham.

Previous positions have included Lecturer for postgraduate programme in Choral Conducting at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) and Director of Music at the University of Warwick Music Centre. I also give regular masterclasses in Hilversum (Netherlands Radio Choir) and Berlin (Berlin Radio Choir), as well as at Yale University, Royal Academy of Music, and other leading institutions.