The English Concert Singers, similar to its extension choir the English Concert Chorus, consists of singers from all walks of life and from different parts of England and Wales. It was formed by Roy Wales in 1989 on his return from working and living in Australia. It has a varied repertoire of choral works from the 16th-20th century and can perform as a versatile choral ensemble of 30-80 singers. It has performed in many venues in London including performances at the Barbican Concert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Town Hall, as well as in many other UK venues and in 44 countries abroad.
The choir tours regularly and has performed in Paris, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, the Channel Islands, Eire, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain (Expo ’92 in Seville), Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Israel, Turkey, Greece, South Africa, Australia, China, the West Indies and South America.
It has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra and BBC, English and London Concert Orchestras in concerts and recordings.
The English Concert Singers have appeared at a number of prestigious international festivals including Cheltenham, Vienna, Exeter, Bournemouth, Malta, Paris, Montreux and the Cork International Choral Festival. The choir has also made a number of CD recordings: Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Hungarian Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, ‘Passion’ with José Carreras and ‘Choral Kaleidoscope’ which features music in a variety of styles and from many periods.
In 2004 it was a prize winner in the Naples International Choral Festival and it has also worked abroad with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra in Croatia, the Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Hungarian MAV Symphony Orchestra and the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra in Hungary. In May 2015 the English Concert Singers travelled to Eire to participate in the Mayo International Choir Festival where they won two first prizes in the competitions.
The English Concert Singers have given a number of first UK and London performances including Michael Stimpson’s The Angry Garden, Paul Basler’s Missa Kenya, Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, Antonín Tučapsky’s Mary Magdalene, Stuart Johnson’s Praise and Revelation, Songs and Sonnets, Moments with Matilda and Requiem (1st London performance), Peter Eben’s Desire of Ancient Things, Norman Luboff’s African Mass, Brian Latchem’s King Edgar and Te Deum, and Philip Bracanin’s Lost in a Long Dream. In 2011 the English Concert Singers were involved in the World Première performance of Karl Jenkins’ The Bards of Wales in the new Budapest Concert Hall, conducted by Karl Jenkins. In November, 2015 the English Concert Singers and English Concert Orchestra,conducted by Roy Wales, gave the first English performance of Karl Jenkins’ “The Bards of Wales” in the composer’s presence at St. John’s Smith Square, London.
Hugo Cole in The Guardian described their performance of Tučapsky’s Mary Magdalene at the Bournemouth International Festival as follows:
“The English Concert Singers displayed forward tone and balanced cohesion. They had strength in attack and the power to sustain the structure moulded by Dr. Wales”
Following their performance in Istanbul, the Turkish press critic commented:
“The English Concert Singers created a wonderful atmosphere and displayed perfect musicality.”
After a concert the Singers gave in Durban in South Africa, the Durban Sunday Tribune critic described the Singers as follows:
“As an ensemble the four sections are well-balanced with carefully nurtured, almost spotless intonation, a refined choral sound and a repertoire that includes the best 20th century choral music as well as choice items from the past.”