Holst Singers

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Holst Singers
Holst singers logo.png
Background information
Origin London, UK
Genres Choral
Occupation(s) Choir
Years active 1978–present
Website www.holstsingers.com
Members Conductor
Stephen Layton

The Holst Singers are an amateur choir based in London, United Kingdom. The choir is named indirectly after the English composer Gustav Holst, taking its name from the Holst Room at St Paul's Girls' School, the venue for rehearsals during the choir's early years.[1]

The musical director is the English conductor Stephen Layton. The countertenor James Bowman is the president of the choir.


The Holst Singers devote much of their attention to performing and recording new works by living composers such as the British composer John Tavener, and Estonian composers Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis. The choir also focuses on works by Alexander Gretchaninov, Alfred Schnittke, and Russian Orthodox music, as well as the core choral repertoire of part-songs by Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, and works such as Bach's Mass in B minor and Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis.[2]


The Holst Singers perform regularly in London venues such as the Temple Church and St John's Smith Square. In June 2003 the Holst singers premièred Tavener's epic 8-hour work, The Veil of the Temple at the Temple Church.[3] They performed an abridged concert version in the BBC Proms in 2004. The choir has previously performed with the Hilliard Ensemble, The Academy of Ancient Music and soloists such as James Bowman and Ian Bostridge.


Critical assessment of the Holst Singers' output has generally been favourable, with recent recitals commended by British newspapers such as the Guardian[4] and the Daily Telegraph.[5] Holst Singers recordings have also been given positive reviews by critics in publications such as the Times,[6] Gramophone, and on CD Review (BBC Radio 3).[7]


The Holst Singers have made a number of recordings with Hyperion Records as well as with RCA and Decca. CD releases include The Tavener Collection (Decca), Schnittke's Choir Concerto (Hyperion), Gretchaninov's Vespers, settings of Three Shakespeare Songs and English folk songs by Vaughan Williams, and music by Pärt, Sviridov, Górecki and Tchaikovsky.[8]

Selected discography[edit]

Ikon II (sequel release to the 1997 Ikon CD)

Tormis – Choral Music

  • Released: April 2008
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • Writer: Veljo Tormis
  • Director: Stephen Layton
  • Tracks: various Estonian folk songs arranged for choir

Pierre Villette Choral Music

  • Released: April 2006
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • Writer: Pierre Villette
  • Director: Stephen Layton
  • Tracks: fifteen unaccompanied choral works and two motets

The Veil of the Temple (world première recording)

  • Released: February 2005
  • Format: double CD
  • Label: RCA
  • Writer: John Tavener
  • Director: Stephen Layton



  1. ^ City of London Sinfonia blog. "CLoSer Interview: Holst Singers". Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Holst Singers. "Past performances". Retrieved 21 April 2008. 
  3. ^ Richard Morrison (30 June 2003). "Tavener's musical pilgrimage". The Times. London. Retrieved 21 April 2008. 
  4. ^ Hall, George (8 November 2010). "City of London Sinfonia/Layton". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Hewett, Ivan (16 March 2004). "Sublime echoes through a soaring space". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Jones, Rick (5 April 2008). "Holst Singers: Veljo Tormis". The Times. London. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  7. ^ McGregor, Andrew (30 October 2010). "CD Review". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "Recordings". Holst Singers website. Retrieved 18 March 2011.