Formed in 1966 to complement the work of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chorus consists of over 160 amateur singers from all walks of life and is self-managed by a council of nine elected representatives.
Whilst maintaining a close association with the LSO, with whom most of its performances are given, the London Symphony Chorus has developed an independent life which allows it to partner other leading orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment, City of Birmingham and BBC Symphony Orchestras and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Internationally, it has worked with many leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, European Union Youth Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic.
From its creation the Chorus, under the direction of eminent musicians including John Alldis, Arthur Oldham, Richard Hickox, Stephen Westrop and since 2001 Joseph Cullen, has continued to expand its wide repertoire of music including the commissioning of new works: John Tavener's The Myrrh Bearer, for chorus, viola and percussion, was premièred in October 1994, with Yuri Bashmet as viola soloist. In October 1995 Richard Hickox conducted the world première of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' The Three Kings, a Christmas cantata to a text by George Mackay Brown. It also took part in 2008 in the world premiere of James MacMillan's St. John Passion, which was commissioned to celebrate the 80th birthday of Sir Colin Davis, who is President of the LSC.
At the heart of the Chorus' repertoire are the great twentieth century choral classics: Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, Mahler's Second, Third and Eighth Symphonies, Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, Britten's War Requiem and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. The repertoire of the LSC is very wide-ranging and includes other works by Schoenberg, Elgar, Brubeck, Verdi, Berlioz, Maxwell-Davies, Bernstein, Berlioz, Britten, Tippett, Dove, James MacMillian, John Adams, Brahms, Holst, Mahler and Orff.
The Chorus has made over 140 recordings, many under Richard Hickox, including Britten's Peter Grimes, which received a Grammy Award and Billy Budd. Two further Grammys were received for Berlioz's Les Troyens under Sir Colin Davis and the LSO in 2000. In June 2004, the Chorus recorded Mahler's Symphony No. 8 for EMI with the CBSO and Chorus under Sir Simon Rattle, released to great critical acclaim. Other collaborations with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra on the LSO Live label are Britten's Peter Grimes, Verdi's Falstaff (which won a Grammy Award), Sibelius's Kullervo (which won a BBC Music Magazine Award), Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, Mozart's Requiem, and Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini. (For a complete list of recordings by the LSC, please view the Discography section.)
Thanks to the generous support of individuals and companies, the London Symphony Chorus has established an Endowment Fund in order to develop the musical potential of the Chorus. Money from the fund is used for the continuing vocal training of Chorus members at day and weekend sessions, with the distinguished teacher and vocal consultant Janice Chapman.
The London Symphony Chorus is in constant demand to sing at major concert halls and music festivals abroad. Outstandingly successful visits have been made to France, Italy, Jerusalem, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands, USA and Russia. The London Symphony Chorus is a potent cultural ambassador for Britain, extending its reputation and creating new artistic partnerships and business opportunities internationally.