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Simon Halsey

Artistic Director, Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser, Palau de la Música, Barcelona / Conductor Laureate, Rundfunkchor Berlin / Chorus Director, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Choruses / Choral Director, London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus / Artistic Director, Berliner Philharmoniker Youth Choral Programme / Director, BBC Proms Youth Choir / Artistic Advisor, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Choir

  • Simon Halsey is a sought-after conductor of choral repertoire at the very highest level, and an ambassador for choral singing across the world. He is Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Chorus Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Choruses, and Director of the BBC Proms Youth Choir. Halsey is also Conductor Laureate of the Rundfunkchor Berlin, Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Youth Choral Programme, and Artistic Advisor of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Choir. From 2016 he adds the roles of Artistic Director of the Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser to the Palau de la Música, Barcelona. Making singing a central part of these world-class institutions, Halsey has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe.

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  • Since becoming Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in 2012, Halsey has been credited with bringing about a “spectacular transformation” (Evening Standard) of the LSC. 2015/16 highlights with the LSO include Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Haydn’s The Seasons with Sir Simon Rattle, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with Sir Mark Elder, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas. The choir will also join the LA Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel at the Barbican for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.3, and sing Rachmaninoff’s Vespers at London Temple Church, with Halsey on the podium.

    In addition to its work with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Halsey’s CBSO Chorus is in high demand from other leading orchestras. In 2015/16 the choir will travel to Mexico City to perform two concerts with a local choir and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Alondra de la Parra. Recent highlights include a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the LSC at London’s Royal Festival Hall, celebrating Sir Simon Rattle’s 60th birthday. With the CBSO in Birmingham, the 2015/16 season includes Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with Lahav Shani and Poulenc’s Gloria with Nicholas Collon. At the CBSO Halsey has also founded a Youth Chorus and Children’s Chorus, as well as two community choirs in Birmingham and the surrounding area.

    Under Halsey’s leadership between 2001-2015, the Rundfunkchor Berlin gained a reputation internationally as one of the finest professional choral ensembles. Halsey also initiated innovative projects in unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats. He retains a close collaboration with the ensemble in his new position of Conductor Laureate: he will prepare the choir for performances at the Berlin and Paris Philharmonie alongside the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle, join a tour to Indonesia as part of the Goethe Institute’s German Days, as well as leading the choir’s extremely popular Sing-Along concerts in Berlin and Vienna.

    Further highlights for 2015/16 include the BBC Proms Youth Choir’s first tour, where the choir will perform in Birmingham and at Lucerne Festival with Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle in addition to its usual BBC Proms concert. Also, as a guest conductor, Halsey will perform Brahms’s Requiem with Bournemouth Symphony, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne.

    As Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Youth Choral Programme Vokalhelden (‘Vocal Heroes’), Halsey leads a long-term education and performance project that brings together children from diverse backgrounds from all over Berlin. Last season they performed the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Was lauert da im Labyrinth (The Monster in the Maze), conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Halsey also prepared the LSO Discovery Choirs and Community Choir for the UK premiere of Dove’s opera, as part of his LSO Sing programme, and the choirs for the French premiere at the Aix Festival, both with the London Symphony under Sir Simon Rattle.

    In June 2016, LSO Discovery Choirs and Community Choir will perform the world premiere of The Hogboon, Peter Maxwell Davies’s new children’s opera, with Sir Simon Rattle and students from Guildhall School of Music.

    Simon Halsey is Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Birmingham, where he directs a postgraduate course in Choral Conducting, in association with the CBSO. He is in great demand as a teacher at other universities and has presented masterclasses at top universities such as Princeton and Yale. In 2011 Schott Music published his book and DVD on choral conducting, Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert, as part of its ‘Master Class’ series.

    Halsey has worked on numerous recording projects, many of which have won major awards, including the Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or and Echo Klassik. He has won three Grammy Awards for his recordings with the Rundfunkchor Berlin: 2007, 2008 (Best Choral Performances) and 2011 (Best Opera Performance). As part of a new relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, Halsey and the Rundfunkchor Berlin recorded Spheres with violinist Daniel Hope, as well as Morgenlicht, a choir-only recording of German hymns, both released in 2013. Highlights of his discography with the CBSO Chorus on EMI Classics include Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and John Shirley-Quirk; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle; and Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and Arleen Auger.

    Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King’s College, Cambridge. He studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1987, he founded with Graham Vick the City of Birmingham Touring Opera (now Birmingham Opera Company). He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997 to 2008 and was also Principal Conductor of the Northern Sinfonia’s Choral Programme from 2004 to 2012.

    Halsey was awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music 2014 for his influence on the musical life of the UK, and was also made Commander of Order of the British Empire in The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany, Halsey was also given the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011.

    2015/16 season / 913 words. Not to be altered without permission.


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Conductor relationships

Sir Simon Rattle

Riccardo Chailly

Valery Gergiev

Marek Janowski

Andris Nelsons

Alan Gilbert

Sakari Oramo

Gianandrea Noseda

Daniel Harding

Recent projects

Jonathan Dove’s new children opera with London Symphony, Berliner Philharmoniker and Aix-en-Provence Opera Festival

Mahler Symphony No.2 with CBSO Chorus, London Symphony Chorus with Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle at Royal Festival Hall London

Human Requiem at Radialsystem Berlin

Bach St Matthew Passion tour to BBC Proms and New York White Light Festival with Rundfunkchor Berlin, Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle

Commemoration to mark First World War Centenary at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery (Belgium) with combined chorus from London Symphony & Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival

Artistic Director and Conductor of David Lang’s Crowd Out in Birmingham, London, Berlin

[The Rundfunkchor Berlin], founded in 1925, had shown extraordinary personal commitment and textual nuance in Peter Sellars's heart-wrenching ritualization of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Park Avenue Armory. Here, under the direction of its principal conductor, Simon Halsey, the choir showed off a different sound - homogeneous, silky and delicately shaded.

The New York Times

Since Simon Halsey took over last year [the London Symphony Chorus] has undergone a spectacular transformation. Singing out unencumbered by scores, with crackling consonants and commitment to match, the choir brought a disciplined exhilaration to the party.

London Evening Standard

Simon Halsey was at the helm – and what a sympathetic, empowering conductor he has become – drawing from the CBSO playing of luminous subtlety and refinement.

Birmingham Post

Intermusica represents Simon Halsey worldwide

Susie Mcleod
Director, Artist Management
+44 20 7608 9920

Sana Khan
Assistant Artist Manager
+44 20 7608 9923

Michelle Laimeche
Administrator, Artist Management
+44 20 7608 9943

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