Harry Christophers

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Harry Christophers during a concert at Versailles, France, 25 June 2012

Richard Henry Tudor "Harry" Christophers CBE (born 26 December 1953, Goudhurst, Kent) is an English conductor.

Education and early career[edit]

Richard Henry Tudor Christophers[1] attended the King's School, Canterbury, and was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral under choirmaster Allan Wicks and played clarinet in the school orchestra alongside Andrew Marriner. He has cited as his childhood musical influences the Rolling Stones, Brahms, Mahler, Stravinsky and Jethro Tull.[2]

Christophers became an academical clerk at Magdalen College, Oxford, studying classics for two years before beginning his musical career. He spent six years as a lay vicar at Westminster Abbey and then time as a member of the Clerks of Oxenford and three years in the BBC Singers.

Career with The Sixteen[edit]

Christophers founded the vocal ensemble The Sixteen during this time in 1979. He has directed The Sixteen and its orchestra throughout Europe, America and the Far East, becoming recognised for his work in Renaissance, Baroque and 20th century music. With The Sixteen he has conducted recordings for CORO (The Sixteen's own label) and other labels including Hyperion Records, UCJ and Virgin Classics.[3] Several recordings have received honours such as a Grand Prix du Disque and a Midem award for Handel's Messiah, numerous Schallplattenkritik, the Gramophone Award for Early Music and the Classical Brit Award 2005 for the disc Renaissance. The Sixteen's 2009 recording of Handel's Coronation Anthems earned a Classic FM Gramophone Award in the Baroque Vocal category as well as Artist of the Year honours for Christophers and The Sixteen. The recording also earned Christophers a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance.

In 2000, Christophers began the "Choral Pilgrimage", a national tour of English cathedrals from York to Canterbury, in music from the pre-Reformation era as The Sixteen’s contribution to the millennium celebrations. This then led to subsequent annual pilgrimages devised around particular themes.[4][5] As part of The Sixteen's thirtieth anniversary in 2009, the ninth pilgrimage was dedicated to the anniversaries of Henry Purcell, James MacMillan and George Frideric Handel.[6][7] The 2011 pilgrimage focused on the music of Tomás Luis de Victoria and the 2012 pilgrimage, entitled "The Earth Resounds", explores the sacred music of Flanders in the 15th and 16th centuries by composers Josquin, Brumel and Lassus.

In September 2008, Christophers was named the Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, beginning in the 2009-2010 season, for an initial contract of three seasons.[8] In September 2011, his contract with the Handel and Haydn Society was extended another four seasons until the 2015-2016 season.[9][10]

Increasingly busy in opera, Christophers has conducted numerous productions for Lisbon Opera and English National Opera as well as conducting the UK premiere of Messager’s opera Fortunio for Grange Park Opera. He is a regular conductor at Buxton Opera where he initiated a cycle of Handel’s operas and oratorios including Semele, Samson and Saul.[citation needed]

Christophers is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, as well as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Leicester.[citation needed]

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to music.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60173. p. 7. 16 June 2012.
  2. ^ Aled Jones (2008-09-28). "The Choir: Interview with Harry Christophers". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  3. ^ Alfred Hickling (9 November 2001). "Sweet sixteen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  4. ^ Tom Service (21 October 2002). "The Sixteen/Christophers (Southwark Cathedral, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  5. ^ Erica Jeal (11 April 2007). "The Sixteen/Christophers (Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  6. ^ Tim Ashley (19 March 2009). "The Sixteen/Christophers (Queen Elizabeth Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  7. ^ George Hall (16 April 2009). "The Sixteen/Christophers (Old Royal Naval College Chapel, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  8. ^ Geoff Edgers (2008-09-26). "New leader at Handel and Haydn". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  9. ^ "Artistic Director Harry Christophers to lead Society through 2015 Bicentennial Celebrations" (Press release). Handel and Haydn Society. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  10. ^ Jeremy Eichler (2011-09-20). "H&H adds four years to contract with Christophers". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Grant Llewellyn
Artistic Director, Handel and Haydn Society
2009-present
Succeeded by
incumbent