LSC’s first 50 glorious years

By: Malcolm Taylor

June 12, 2016

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Since its inception in 1966, the LSO has performed and recorded a phenomenal number of works and some of them an extraordinary number of times.  The Chorus was originally set up for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“The Resurrection”) with the LSO, and it has subsequently sung the piece 45 times with most of the illustrious conductors of our time.  There are other fascinating statistics to be gleaned from the archives.  One of our tenors, John Marks has been a member of the tenor section since the formation of the Chorus, but even he would have been taxed to have taken part in all 56 Verdi Requiems, 40 Walton “Belshazzar’s Feast”, 33 Elgar “Dream of Gerontius”, 38 Orff “Carmina Burana” and 28 Britten “War Requiem”.

Of course, symphonic choral works sometimes use only certain voices, and the gentlemen of the Chorus are unique in having recorded Britten “Billy Budd” twice.  (The Chorus itself also stands alone in having recorded the composer’s “Peter Grimes” twice.)  The ladies of the LSC have enjoyed 29 performances of Holst “The Planets” and 39 of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, although some of them are convinced they have sung it many more times than that!

At the other end of the spectrum, there are some interesting unusual items, including Claudio Abbado’s Mussorgsky series in the early 1980’s, the performances of Rimsky-Korsakov “Mlada” under Michael Tilson Thomas in 1989, 8 forays into Bartok’s “The Miraculous Mandarin” including recording (the choral contribution lasts no longer than 30 seconds and consists of 8 notes) and 9 of Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortileges”, one of which was from memory.

The future of the Chorus with the LSO looks strong and this mere skimming of the surface of the performance history, shows how strong the heritage is.

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