Above all though, defining the evening was the performance of the two soloists and the chorus. All gave a sense of total commitment to the text, inhabiting a range of emotions that varied from subdued sorrow to unrestrained ecstasy. Anna Larsson’s pale-toned mezzo-soprano floated out of the orchestra, diction crystal clear and full of meaning. Larsson is known for her Mahler and the emphases she gave to each syllable were most enjoyable to hear. Christiane Karg was a fine counterpart, her textured soprano a plush vehicle that again benefited from clear and thoughtful diction. The London Symphony Chorus came across well, the text clear and the meaning thunderously brought to life.
From the moment when the magnificent London Symphony Chorus began their contribution with an impeccably hushed ‘Auferstehn’ their every word was crystal clear . . . the London Symphony Chorus made the last ten minutes incandescent”
But the last words really belong to the chorus, superbly drilled here by Simon Halsey. After its long wait, during which Bychkov steered his forces (offstage bands included) through a bracing Apocalypse, the chorus made a hushed entry and joined everyone confidently in the long climb towards the work’s triumphal climax.
Daily Telegraph ***** review – Mahler Symphony No. 2 – Barbican (4th February 2018)
The move into the choral music was imperceptible, with the members of the London Symphony Chorus (from memory) producing a sound so disembodied you wondered how they breathed.
Classical Source – Mahler Symphony No. 2 – Barbican (4th February 2018)
What set the seal were the vocal contributions: from the London Symphony Chorus, measured but intense, from soprano Christiane Karg, and especially from contralto Anna Larsson, her voice weighty but not heavy, her delivery hinting at a wealth of understated emotion.
Evening Standard – Mahler Symphony No. 2 – Barbican (4th February 2018)
London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in cracking form
The Times – “Genesis Suite” – Barbican (13th January 2017)
the LSO Chorus, singing impressively from memory, swayed, finger-clicked and toe-tapped
Seen & Heard – Bernstein “Wonderful Town” – Barbican (16th December 2017)
But the real surprise was the London Symphony Chorus. Who would have thought that those soberly suited ladies and gentlemen could let their hair down in a conga? But conga they did, and in My Darlin’ Eileen they raised a magnificent ear-splitting din.
Daily Telegraph – Bernstein “Wonderful Town” – Barbican (16th December 2017)
London Symphony Chorus were on terrific form – not least when, in a scene of irresistible zaniness, instrumentalists and singers alike joined in a conga round the hall.
The Times (5 ***** review) – Bernstein “Wonderful Town” – Barbican (16th December 2017)
The LSO Chorus shimmied, bopped and swung, while the orchestra became, under Sir Simon Rattle’s dynamic baton, a Big Band of the era . . . For the curtain call finale the contagious ‘Conga’ was reprised as cast and choir snaked and kicked their legs through the aisles of the hall . . . An evening finally of memorable fun and high-spirits”
Bachtrack – Bernstein “Wonderful Town” – Barbican (16th December 2017)
superbly played and sung by the LSO and its Chorus, and blazed with conviction.
The Guardian – Bernstein “Kaddish Symphony No. 3” – Barbican (5th November 2017)
The London Symphony Chorus on fine form . . . The chorus excelled, whether in nimble passages, light female-dominated textures or the odd infernal fugue.
The Times – Berlioz “La Damnation de Faust” – Barbican (19th September 2017)______________________________________________________________
The choirs were at the top of their game, tackling the pious profundity of the Easter hymn and the satanic howling accompanying Faust’s last ride with equal verve and accuracy; the men get the lion’s share of the chorus work, and the tenors and basses of LSC gave us some appropriately bibulous students and well-drilled but mellifluous soldiers.
Musicomh – Berlioz “La Damnation de Faust” – Barbican (19th September 2017)___________________________________________________________________
The soldiers were the men of the London Symphony Chorus, and when Bryan Hymel, singing Faust, turned around to watch them during the first chorus it could have been a bit of low-key stage business, but it could also have been genuine astonishment at their precision and the quality of their sound. The LSC women and the children’s choruses had less of a starring role but were also first-rate.
Guardian (5 ***** review) – Berlioz “La Damnation de Faust” – Barbican (19th September 2017)___________________________________________________________________
The London Symphony Chorus was at its ebullient best, Rattle and Gábor Bretz’s Brander competing with each other to conduct the carousing in the tavern with its drunken fugal Amens.
Bachtrack – Berlioz “La Damnation de Faust” – Barbican (17th + 19th September 2017)___________________________________________________________________
Further excitement derived from the fiercely energetic singing of the London Symphony Chorus, whether as tavern-drinkers, nymphs, peasants, soldiers or students, and its sense of ensemble was second to none.
ClassicalSource – Berlioz “La Damnation de Faust” – Barbican (17th September 2017)________________________________________________________________
Cramped acoustic be damned: there was playing here of unabashed violence, backed up by a contribution of thrilling exuberance from the London Symphony Chorus, who appeared to seize their moment like the prisoners in Fidelio, after years of being sidelined and overlooked by Valery Gergiev’s programming.
Artsdesk – Berlioz “La Damnation de Faust” – Barbican (17th September 2017)__________________________________________________________________
It’s always a struggle to fill the gigantic barn that is the Royal Albert Hall, but this performance could have filled three of them. Such was the force that Rattle extracted from the CBSO Chorus, London Symphony Chorus and Orfeó Català. If only Schoenberg had devoted more of his career to choral writing; judging by this piece, it was clearly one of his strengths. Even Mahler’s most ambitious works never went further than Gurrelieder in harnessing the cathartic power of mass singing.
Financial Times – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)
And what a chorus it was, combining the forces of the LSC, the CBSO Chorus and Orfeo Catala. It felt as though we were on the sun itself, never mind beholding it, as hundreds of voices exploded with a crystal-clear diction “Seht die Sonne”. . . . The tenor section in particular deserves huge credit – so delicate yet unstrained were their highest moments, it was easy to wonder whether they’d had support from the altos seated behind them (they hadn’t).
bachtrack – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)
It is a pity that the choir gets so little to do in the work – a couple of Wild-Hunt men’s choruses half way through, and the last full-choir movement – but the trio of Simon-Halsey-directed choirs (CBSO Chorus, London Symphony Chorus and the Barcelona-based Orfeó Catalá) on Saturday made a tremendous impression. The alarming ‘Holla’ of the Wild Hunt rising from their graves and the sibilance of ‘Hier ist das Schloss’ were satisfyingly chilling, and – despite the distance between sections of the choir (they were fully ranged in the choir seats either side of the organ) – their co-ordination of the complex internal rhythms of ‘Seht die Sonne’ was exemplary. Just when you felt that the last held note of the piece couldn’t get any louder, the choir’s final increase in volume assured a breathtaking end to an outstanding performance.
musicomh – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)____________________________________________________
Simon Halsey is the chorus-master of all three [London Symphony Chorus, CBSO Chorus, Orfeo Catala], and his contribution in training his forces to the pitch of excellence they displayed must be acknowledged.
seen and heard – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)____________________________________________________
As for the chorus, the men in the Hunt were tremendous and the sight of the full forces cupping their hands over their mouths for more volume in the final, unbelievably grand hymn capped the impact of this stupendous evening.
classical source – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)________________________________________________
The London Symphony Chorus, CBSO Chorus and Barcelona’s Orfeo Catala, all under the direction of Simon Halsey, capped the performance splendidly. The male singers were rollickingly incisive as Waldemar’s Men and everyone blazed brilliantly in the final hymn to the sun.
Daily Telegraph (5 ***** review) – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)
The chorus provided a tour de force of fine diction and sustained energy.
The Guardian (5 ***** review) – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)
When they finally came in, the men’s chorus fully matched Rattle’s concept of the work, producing a wonderfully focussed sound. And the final chorus was glorious.
planethugill – Schoenberg Gurrelieder – Royal Albert Hall (19th August 2017)
Things hit a high point when the London Symphony Chorus blare out a kazoo fanfare during ‘King’s Knight BGM – Pretty Day out’
Bachtrack – Symphonic Odysseys – Barbican (22nd June 2017)
the golden throats of the London Symphony Chorus”
The Times (5 ***** review) – Bruckner Te Deum – Barbican (28th May 2017)
As if to underline our sceptical age, in this concert with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Bernard Haitink, the ring of faith came with the Te Deum before any expressions of agnosticism. Haitink clearly recognises that the words matter, as they do in any religious text, for much attention was paid to their particular significance. This was apparent, for instance, in the hushed sense of awe for “the Holy Ghost: the Comforter” and later, in the fourth of the five sections, for the supplication “Have mercy upon us”. At the other end of the dynamic scale Haitink unfurled all the banners for the blaze of choral sound in “Thou art the King of Glory” and right at the very end for “let me never be confounded”. There was celestial tenderness in the solo contributions from Roman Simovic in the second and fourth sections and an entirely appropriate sense of theatricality with the massive timpani rolls from Antoine Bedewi for “Thou sittest at the right hand of God”. The clear enunciation of the text by the LSO Chorus, when set against the angularity of much of the string writing, gave this performance a persuasive robustness, some of the qualities of earthy plainsong and indeed the occasional angry note of defiance.
Bachtrack – Bruckner Te Deum – Barbican (28th May 2017)
….and from a hole in the wall the Ladies of the London Symphony Chorus were ideal in their ethereal perspective, Siren-esque in effect, their receding to nothingness perfectly judged, leaving a spellbinding silence that was respected until Sir Mark indicated that the performance was finished.”
Classical Source – The Planets – Barbican (18th May 2017)
With the earlier two choirs joined now by the London Symphony Chorus and Tiffin Boys’ Choir, the excellent choral forces surrounded the audience in an all-embracing, surround-sound experience.
Financial Times – Mahler Symphony No. 8 – Royal Festival Hall (8th April 2017)
. . . the tone of the instruments and the London Symphony Chorus’s vowels precisely focussed with an ear to the size of the hall. Every bee-sting tattoo, every shiver, every shudder was immaculately executed . . . This is what can be achieved when everyone listens to everyone else.
… the beautifully blended London Symphony Chorus sighed, moaned and exalted splendidly. A glorious, sun-drenched performance.
Bachtrack – Ravel Daphnis & Chloe – Barbican Concert (23rd March 2017)
. . . the LSO Chorus produced a full body of sound, with the fearless sopranos particularly impressive in faster passages, but they also maintained a legato line with focused tone in quieter moments, such as in the concluding movement where the dass sie ruhen was delivered with a commendable steadiness. They were at their best in the sixth movement, where the fiery energy and theatricality present in the score reached its climax with Tod, wo ist dein Stachel? H lle, wo ist dein Sieg?
Bachtrack – Brahms Requiem – Barbican
21st March 2017
The voices of the London Symphony Chorus rose beautifully from the hushed opening chords. “Selig sind, die da Lied tragen”, for those who go forth weeping bearing precious seed will return “Mit Freuden und bringen ihre Garben”. Death is a not an end, but a process. With Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director of the LSO, Londoners get another advantage : Simon Halsey, Rattle’s choral counterpart through the years at Birmingham and in Berlin. The LSO Chorus sounded luminous, voices carefully blended. If anything, the LSO Chorus sounded even richer in the second movement Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras though this brought the orchestra to the fore.
….. the full honours went to the London Symphony Chorus, for Brahms’s German Requiem is one of the high points in the choral repertoire.
Classical Iconoclast – Brahms Requiem – Barbican
20th March 2017
It must have seemed like a coup for Rattle and the LSO to get Peter Sellars involved, but with orchestral playing of this quality, an excellent cast and an LSO Chorus, as directed by Simon Halsey, singing with more excitement than many opera choruses, I would have settled for a concert performance.
Opera Magazine – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
The London Symphony Chorus was on superb form, and contributed far more than just singing to the evening. Dressed in either civvies or white coats its members appeared in the balcony or down the steps of the auditorium, but never on the stage. One moment they could be rushing to the front of the auditorium as a rabble chanting at Prince Go-Go, and another they might be sitting on its tiered steps in between two sections where they were needed. Chorus director Simon Halsey conducted the singers from the stage in a lab coat, and had clearly drilled them extremely well.
E-Radio.US – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
20th January 2017
…when the LSC came to sing on both sides of the audience – pure stereo sound that had a heavenly but also somehow chilling effect on me. In all circumstances and with sometimes short but effective interventions, the chorus gave a dedicated and meticulous performance worthy of some great opera houses productions. Then later you had to have a healthy heart when they showed up again, screaming furiously at Prince Gogo and probably making some people in the front rows fear for their lives too. It was rather not surprising to see so many people leaving the Barbican with Peter Sellars’s haircut!
ClassicalDiary – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
17th January 2017
The London Symphony Chorus, conducted by Simon Halsey dressed as a lab technician, erupted into the auditorium to make the crowd scenes deafeningly totalitarian.
ClassicalSource – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
16th January 2017
… the London Symphony Chorus, popping up all over the auditorium and clearly superbly drilled by Simon Halsey to hurl out the manic crowd scenes.
The Times – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
16th January 2017
… the highly disciplined chorus sings from various parts of the auditorium – this is a serious enterprise carried off with skill and musical precision.
The Stage – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
16th January 2017
Simon Halsey (usually on-stage) directed the London Symphony Chorus (usually off-stage amongst the audience) with energy through the multifarious vocal gymnastics demanded of them.
Bachtrack – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
16th January 2017
The London Symphony Chrous invaded the auditorium to great effect (there was no room for them on the stage), which necessitated Simon Halsey as a white-coated subsidiary conductor
PlanetHugill – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
16th January 2017
… the members of the London Symphony Chorus (directed by Simon Halsey) hurtled down the aisles in mufti to the stage, shouting “our great leader” over and over again (perhaps a hundred times). For once, in our age of demagoguery, the repetition made a powerful point.
Evening Standard – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
16th January 2017
To praise those vocal performances deserving of praise would be to write out once again the cast list – not, of course, to forget the outstanding London Symphony Chorus
Boulezian – Ligeti “Le Grand Macabre” – Barbican
16th January 2017
***** … la partie vocale de l’œuvre est également magnifiée par les chanteurs du London Symphony Chorus qui nous ont démontré une fois encore l’excellence de leur formation, parvenant à faire entendre les mille couleurs de leurs voix si nombreuses
(The vocal sections of the piece were greatly enhanced by the singers of the London Symphony Chorus, who, once again, demonstrated the excellence of their training. With their numerous voices, they enabled us to hear thousands of colours in the music.)
Bachtrack – Adams “El Nino” – Philharmonie (Paris)
15th December 2016
The London Symphony Chorus threw itself valiantly into the fray of Adams’s vertiginous, scalp-pricking chords.
The Times – Adams “El Nino” – Barbican
6th December 2016
***** Hypnotic, shimmering textures mesmerise without outstaying their welcome. The LSO delivered a virtuoso performance under Adams’ baton, with the London Symphony Chorus and London Youth Choir making their own impressive contributions.
Evening Standard – Adams “El Nino” – Barbican
5th December 2016
***** The Chorus’ merits are well known in the concert hall and on other notable LSO Live CDs, but even by their standards this recording of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil is something of a jewel. The large chorus sing in generally idiomatic Russian with gloriously warm tone throughout, tapping the Russian Orthodox tradition as if to the manner born.
Choir and Organ – Rachmaninov Vespers – LSO Live recording
That London chorus, 130 strong, projected hushed mystery, hell-storming outbursts and everything in between with utmost ease.
New York Times – Verdi Requiem – David Geffen Hall, New York
1st November 2016
The Secret of Mana arrangement was such a new experience to me. The choir were astounding. It’s such a cliché, but you have to hear it to believe it. They ushered the orchestra in with the sound of a storm. The moved and stomped, and used their voices to create wind, rain, and chaos. I’ve never heard anything like it. Recordings of this piece simply don’t do it justice. The way the choir rises over the orchestra was just spectacular. The choir brought the music to us, and at the end they gently faded away as though the storm has passed. Just awe-inspiring.
colewritingblog – Symphonic Fantasies – Barbican
8th October 2016
The addition of the LSC to the mix gave the performance a lot more depth, and allowed the music to be explored from a totally different angle, for example, using the LSC’s singers to replicate the sound effect of rain and storm for the Secret of Mana medley. . . . With an encore of Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII medley which was not listed in the programme, the LSO, LSC and the soloists truly deserved the full house standing ovation which they received at the end of the concert.
Howie’s world review – Symphonic Fantasies – Barbican
7th October 2016
… the LSC sang for their lives. Taking the Sanctus at a white-hot sprint – no hanging around here – Noseda coaxed from them superbly unified singing. In the ferocious Dies Irae they snapped and raged like fourscore angry dogs. Elsewhere they were nimble and ethereal.
The Observer – Verdi Requiem – Barbican
25th September 2016
The London Symphony Chorus were no less magnificent, flinging out the fugue of the final Libera Me with complete authority.
Daily Telegraph (5* review) – Verdi Requiem – Barbican
21st September 2016
… the London Symphony Chorus going for the Latin text with tremendous immediacy and southern intensity
classicalsource – Verdi Requiem – Barbican
20th September 2016
… the London Symphony Chorus was on blazing form throughout.
Guardian – Verdi Requiem – Barbican
19th September 2016
… the London Symphony Chorus sang with authority, weight and explosive power.
bachtrack – Verdi Requiem – Barbican
19th September 2016
… we were drawn exultantly onward toward the inevitable choral closing section, which was positively heaven-sent when it finally arrived. This is a stretch for any choir to perform convincingly given the exceptionally wide vocal range, but the tension was so deftly and powerfully built throughout that it didn’t seem to test the London Symphony Chorus whatsoever. It is one of the more climactic endings in the symphonic repertoire, and in Harding’s hands was supremely thrilling. “I shall die, in order to live!” the chorus sang and the point was well made.
6th June 2016
. . . it was a robust London Symphony Chorus that really inspired – fervent, powerful and unflagging, with irreproachable high As from the sopranos.
12th May 2016
The London Symphony Chorus, itself celebrating its half-century anniversary this year, was in fine voice throughout. The Barbican acoustic can tend to blur textures, but Elder ensured clarity in the most fearsome writing was maintained.
27th April 2016
The London Symphony Chorus spat hellfire as the Demons and gave a resounding Praise to the Holiest.
27th April 2016
The London Symphony Chorus, its heavenly host superbly prepared by Simon Halsey, had a field day. They took the baton from Gerald Finley’s burnished, stentorian “Proficiscere, anima Christiana” and flew on wings in the name of angels and archangels. The souls in Purgatory (“Lord, Thou hast been our refuge”) were so vivid they were practically visible, and even as Demons they held their dignity.
25th April 2016
The London Symphony Chorus sang with a lush sound that matched the orchestra’s, and they had some of the most exciting moments of drama in Elgar’s score. They were beautiful as mourners and angels, and appropriately terrifying as the chorus of demons.
25th April 2016
As we entered the hall on Sunday night, the extremely large choral forces seemed to be bursting from the choir stalls and I was apprehensive as to how the more nimble and subtle passages might fare . . . The performance was, however, in many ways a revelation, opening with a startling beat of the timpani and launching into a furious overture, period speed and light-footedness with a modern orchestra. The London Symphony Chorus was on magnificent form. Rattle made no concession to the number of singers and took the performance at a quick, but beautifully judged, pace. The singers performed not only with precision and clarity, but great character, no mean feat with so many people on stage. The chorus was almost a match for the daringly quiet pianissimos in the strings, but produced a rich, full-blooded sound very needed such as in “Komm, holder Lenz!”. The fugues were dispatched tidily and with confidence, and seemed undaunted by Rattle’s unrelenting tempi in the glorious wine harvest at the end of Autumn.
21st April 2016
The London Symphony Chorus, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, was on magnificent form, offering verbal clarity and meaning, as well as great character, from its opening “Komm, holder Lenz!” onwards. Dynamic contrasts and concern for phrasing were to the fore, without exaggeration.
19th April 2016
The London Symphony Chorus had been brilliantly trained by Simon Halsey; whether enthusiastically impersonating “Country People or solemnly commenting on how “grenzenlose Seligkeit / wird der Gerechten Lohn” (“infinite blessedness rewards the righteous”) the choral singing was superb.
19th April 2016
Haydn might have been delighted to have a choir as well drilled as the London Symphony Chorus
19th April 2016
The London Symphony Chorus, celebrating its 50th anniversary, delivered the fugal showpieces confidently and pungently voiced the German text (they made great drunken revellers at the grape harvest)
19th April 2016
Ultimately, though it was the chorus’s evening, and they rose to the work’s challenges superbly, with plenty of warm tone from sopranos and basses, and great strength in the alto and tenor lines. “Komm, Holder Lenz” sounded admirably fervent. The finest of pianissimos greeted the torpor of Summer. The fugues blazed with conviction. And the whirling harvest waltz (Rattle took it at an almost daunting speed) was glorious in its detail and elation.
18th April 2016
Yesterday evening was marking the 50th anniversary of the London Symphony Chorus and what a stellar performance of Haydn’s “The Seasons” they delivered! Their German was impeccable with outstanding articulation and although some stylistic choices by Sir Simon Rattle could have been debatable, they always managed to highlight the text while giving a powerful – and sometimes even exuberant – performance. . . . So a very happy birthday LSC and here’s to another 50 years of wonderful music making!
18th April 2016
. . . the LSO Chorus, who filled the hall with their bright, warm tone. Excellent balance was maintained between the orchestra and the chorus, even in the loudest climaxes. Good solos from boy treble Ben Hill and the soloists within the choir. All round, this was a bright and joyous climax to the evening.
9th November 2015
There was magnificent playing in the first and last movements (the latter at one point almost reminiscent of Holst’s Mars from The Planets), and, with the high voices of the London Symphony Chorus making their contribution, the ethereal music of the middle one (Planets echoes, again) was marvellously evocative.
28th September 2015
The London Symphony Chorus sang with power and even more remarkably hushed quietness
25th June 2015
.. the chorus, on striking form here, sang with fervent majesty ..
23rd June 2015
The LSO Chorus had ample opportunity to show off its disciplined energy
23rd June 2015
.. the London Symphony Chorus was in vivid form ..
22nd June 2015
.. a refinement, clarity and dramatic purpose from the LSC that was consistently thrilling.
The Times – Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem – Barbican
26th May 2015
a fierce exaltation in the final scenes, in which the London Symphony Chorus were particularly thrilling.
11th May 2015
the enthusiasm of the London Symphony Chorus and the CBSO Chorus, who sang as if their lives depended on it.
17th February 2015
the combined London and City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses, superbly trained as ever by Simon Halsey, reinforced that sense of total command, virtuoso musicianship and movingly passionate commitment with which Rattle shaped this unforgettable performance.
The Times – Mahler Symphony No. 2 – Royal Festival Hall
16th February 2015
The combined forces of the London Symphony and CBSO Choruses were stupendous throughout.
The Guardian – Mahler – Symphony No. 2 – Royal Festival Hall –
16th February 2015
the combined choruses were sensational, whether in the precise barely-audible ensemble of all those whispered German ‘sch’ sounds lifting the finale heavenwards or in the glorious peroration that folded the audience into Mahler’s pan-religious vision
16th February 2015
singing with both exciting attack and gossamer lightness, the London Symphony Chorus were the true vocal heroes of the evening.
13th January 2015
London Symphony Chorus,
c/o London Symphony Orchestra
Level 6 Frobisher Crescent
LONDON EC2Y 8DS
Phone: +44 (0)20 7382 2518
Contact: Andra East, Choral Projects Manager
President: Sir Simon Rattle OM CBE
President Emeritus: André Previn KBE
Vice-President: Michael Tilson Thomas
Patron: Simon Russell Beale CBE
Patron: Howard Goodall CBE
Chorus Director: Simon Halsey CBE
Chairman: Owen Hanmer