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.
In 2012 he was announced as Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, working closely with LSO Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev and leading choral strategy across the LSO’s performance and education programmes. Simon Halsey also holds the positions of Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic’s Youth Choral Programme and Director of the BBC Proms Youth Choir.
As Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic Youth Choral Programme, Halsey will be responsible for leading a long-term education and performance project, bringing together a diverse range of young singers from all over Berlin to act as a large-scale youth chorus and partner to the Berlin Philharmonic for concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie and on tour.
His work in Birmingham is complemented by a new role as Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Birmingham. Simon Halsey held the position of Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997-2008, and the position of Principal Conductor, Choral Programme of the Northern Sinfonia from 2004-2012.
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 both 2008 and 2009 for the Berlin Radio Choir’s recordings of works by Brahms and Stravinsky respectively.
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.
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.
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Roger Sayer began his musical career as a chorister in Portsmouth. He went on to study at the Royal College of Music under the late Nicholas Danby, winning all the major organ prizes. Between 1980-84 he was organ student at St. Paul's Cathedral, London and in 1981 was appointed organist of Woodford Parish Church, where he built up a fine musical tradition.
Since graduating he has been constantly in demand as an organist and conductor. In 1989 he won third prize in the St Albans International Organ Competition and in the same year was appointed Assistant Organist at Rochester Cathedral. In 1994 Roger was promoted to the position of Organist and Director of Music at Rochester Cathedral, where he was responsible for directing the traditional boys choir on a daily basis as well as directing the Girls Choir and the Senior Girls Choir which he established in 1995 and 2004 respectively. Roger left the post in September 2008 to concentrate on his freelance activities, but he remains as Cathedral Organist. Roger also continues as Musical Director of the Rochester Choral Society. In July 2013 Roger was appointed as Director of Music at Temple Church, London.
Roger has made many highly acclaimed recordings both as an organist and conductor. He frequently directs choral workshops and has initiated and directed several projects including Britten's Noye's Fludde and a children's music education week. He has played many of the monthly concerts of the Great Organ Works series which he founded at Rochester including in 2005 the complete organ works of J.S. Bach.
He makes regular visits to Scandinavia as well as giving concerts in most parts of Europe and the USA. Touring in Europe continues to be a major feature of his work. He toured Italy and Germany in 2007 but he also gives concerts in Russia and Switzerland. His concerts worldwide have included all the organ symphonies of Vierne and all the organ works of Durufle.
As well as being Chorus Accompanist for the LSC, Roger has worked with many other choirs, including the world-famous Tenebrae at the Harrogate International Festival and he was featured on BBC Radio 3's "In Tune". He is also an examiner for the Associated Board and adjudicates for the British Federation of Music Festivals.
Recent recordings include the English Cathedral Organ Series, which was realised to critical acclaim, a new CD with the newly formed Touch Organ Duo and the third volume in his Classic Selection series.