Layton was raised in Derby, where his father was a church organist. Layton learned the piano as a youth. He was a chorister at Winchester Cathedral, and subsequently won scholarships to Eton College and then King's College, Cambridge as an organ scholar under Stephen Cleobury.
Whilst studying at Cambridge, Layton founded the mixed-voice choir Polyphony in 1986. He has conducted Polyphony in commercial recordings for such labels as Hyperion, including music of Gabriel Jackson, Paweł Łukaszewski, Francis Poulenc and John Tavener. He was appointed the musical director of the Holst Singers in 1993, replacing Hilary Davan Wetton, who had founded the group in 1978. Layton has served as assistant organist at Southwark Cathedral and musical director of Wokingham Choral Society. Beginning in 1997, he served as organist and subsequently director of music at the Temple Church. In 2006, he became Director of Music at Trinity College, Cambridge. In November 2009, the City of London Sinfonia announced the appointment of Layton as its second Artistic Director, effective with the 2010-2011 season, for an initial contract of 3 years. Layton is also to have the title of Principal Conductor.
In Europe, Layton became chief conductor of the Netherlands Chamber Choir in January 2002. He has also served as chief guest conductor of the Danish National Choir.
|Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, City of London Sinfonia
|Director of Music, Trinity College, Cambridge
Dr John Birch
|Director of Music, Temple Church
Hilary Davan Wetton
|Musical Director, Holst Singers
- Nicholas Wroe (2006-03-31). "The polyphonic spree". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
- Porter Anderson (2007-02-11). "Choral Grammy: Singing Layton's praises". CNN. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
- Stephen Pritchard (2009-06-07). "Classical CD releases". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
- Stephen Pritchard (2009-04-05). "Classical CD releases". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
- Andrew Clements (2008-03-21). "Poulenc: Gloria; Motets, Gritton/ Polyphony/ Britten Sinfonia/ Layton". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
- Edward Greenfield (2004-09-10). "Tavener: Schuon Hymnen; The Second Coming; Shunya; Butterfly Dreams; Birthday Sleep etc: Polyphony/ Layton". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
- "New Directions as CLS appoints new Artistic Director: City of London Sinfonia appoints Stephen Layton as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Michael Collins becomes Principal Conductor." (Press release). City of London Sinfonia. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
- Stephen Layton, "Hearing the call: meeting God through music". Why I am Still an Anglican (editor, Caroline Chartres), Continuum (London), pp. 77-88 (2006, ISBN 0-8264-8143-4).
- Official website of Stephen Layton
- Official website of Polyphony
- Official website of the Holst Singers
- Trinity College Cambridge page on Stephen Layton
- Wokingham Choral Society history page
- Netherlands Chamber Choir English-language history page