Choir of The Queens College Oxford, Academy of Ancient Music & Owen Rees

Biography Choir of The Queens College Oxford, Academy of Ancient Music & Owen Rees

Choir of The Queens College Oxford, Academy of Ancient Music & Owen ReesChoir of The Queens College Oxford, Academy of Ancient Music & Owen Rees

The Choir of The Queen's College, Oxford
was recently hailed as ‘one of the world’s most renowned choirs’ by Classic FM and the Director Owen Rees’s interpretations of choral music have been described as ‘revelatory and even visionary’ (BBC Music Magazine). The mixed-voice choir consists of thirty singers, including some twenty Choral Scholars who are students of the College, Choral Exhibitioners from other colleges, and two professional Lay Clerks.

Its extensive concert schedule involves appearances across the UK and abroad, including work with such professional ensembles as the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Brook Street Band. It regularly tours abroad, and recent concert tours have included Taiwan, China, the USA , Sri Lanka, Italy, Sardinia, Portugal, Spain, France, the Low Countries, and Germany.

Queen’s choir’s latest CD releases are on the Signum and Avie labels. May 2013 saw the release of a CD of Dixit Dominus settings by Handel and Alessandro Scarlatti, which was hailed as ‘a disc of unusually high calibre’ by Early Music Review and awarded 5 stars by Choir and Organ. In 2011 Queen’s choir commissioned, premiered, and recorded a major new work, Welcome all Wonders, by the British composer David Bednall. Carols from Queen’s enjoyed nine weeks in the Specialist Classical Charts, was 'Drive Featured Album of the Week' on Classic FM, and was a Telegraph Christmas pick. A New Heaven, released in 2017, and The House of the Mind, released this year, both went straight to no. 1 in the Specialist Classical Chart in their first week of sales, and BBC Music Magazine commented that A New Heaven shows ‘the singers at their radiant best’ and Choir and Organ described The House of the Mind as ‘a gem of a disc’. 2019 saw the release of a recording of music by the great Tudor composer John Taverner, which received a Diapason d’Or and was described by Diapason as‘a splendid triumph of English choral art at its best’. Queen’s Choir has also recorded for film at the famous Abbey Road Studios, and appears on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack of the Warner-Brothers film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The choir’s TV work has included Lucy Worsley’s A Merry Tudor Christmas (BBC2) in 2019. Performances in 2020 include further collaboration with the Academy of Ancient Music in a concert and subsequent recording of Bononcini, a tour to the Low Countries, performances of the Monteverdi Vespers and St John Passion and further filming work.

Its wide-ranging repertory includes a rich array of music from Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces to contemporary works, including commissions. During the academic year the choir provides the music for regular services in the College’s splendid Baroque Chapel.

Owen Rees
is Professor of Music at the University of Oxford, and Fellow in Music and Organist (Director of Music) at The Queen’s College, Oxford. He directs the Chapel Choir of The Queen’s College and also conducts the professional early-music choir Contrapunctus. His work as a conductor has taken him to the USA, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Norway, and the Netherlands, and he is increasingly busy as a leader of choral workshops. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, and in several other countries. His CD recordings with Queen’s and other choirs – on the Hyperion, Signum and Avie labels – encompass a wide variety of choral repertory, and have attracted consistently high critical acclaim. Owen Rees has brought to the concert hall and recording studio substantial repertories of magnificent Renaissance music, particularly from Portugal, Spain, and England, including many previously unknown or little-known works. His interpretations of these repertories have been acclaimed as ‘rare examples of scholarship and musicianship combining to result in performances that are both impressive and immediately attractive to the listener’, and he has been described as ‘one of the most energetic and persuasive voices’ in this field. Owen Rees's work has been shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award three times.

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