A short history of the choir
Cardiff Polyphonic Choir, now in its 53rd year, has a proud history and has been an ambassador for Welsh music, touring the USA on nine occasions. Its tours of Malta, Italy, Brittany, Austria, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Prague have helped to earn the choir’s international reputation.
At home, too, the Choir’s reputation is strong.
It has performed in all the major London musical venues. It has worked with many of the great orchestras of our time – the Philharmonia, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the London Baroque, the London Mozart Players and the Hallé.
And it has sung under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, Carl Davis, Sir Charles Groves, Richard Hickox, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Andrew Davis, Jane Glover, Tadaaki Otaka, Paavo Berglund, James Loughran and John Alldis.
The Choir was recently featured in a BBC tribute to Sir Colin Davis in which two clips of him rehearsing the Choir for a performance of Messiah in 1981 were shown.
Here are some highlights of the Choir’s more recent activities
2009 Holst's First Choral Symphony in the 2009 BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC National Chorus of Wales and the BBC Symphony Chorus.
2010 Rachmaninov's Vespers in St Martin in the Fields in London, Verdi's Requiem with the BBC NCOW, and a debut concert in St George's, Bristol performing Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle.
2011 a Radio 3 live broadcast of Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette at St David's Hall, Cardiff with BBC NOW and BBC NCOW, a performance of Vaughan Williams's Mass in G Minor, and a sell out Rachmaninov Vespers in the Budleigh Salterton Music Festival. The year ended with the Choir performing Handel's Messiah in St David’s Hall with the world famous Baroque ensemble, Florilegium and, by contrast, with us appearing live on The One Show on BBC1 on 23rd December!
2012 began with a return to St Martin in the Fields, followed by a performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. In the summer we sang a concert including more modern works by George Shearing, Eric Whitacre, Will Todd, Gareth Glyn, Paul Mealor and Ward Swingle - great music and great fun to sing and listen to. In November we sang the Fauré Requiem and the unaccompanied Frank Martin Mass for Double Choir.
2013 Our performance of Britten's Spring Symphony in St David's Hall with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and with the BBC National Chorus of Wales enjoyed extremely favourable critical review. Read Stephen Walsh's review on Artsdesk, Rian Evans's 4 star review in the Guardian, and Peter Wagstaff's 5 out of 5 review in the Western Mail. Paul Corfield Godfrey's review in Seen and Heard International describes the concert and performances as "Exceptionally excellent". We followed that with a performance with Will Todd of his amazing Mass in Blue at the RWCMD. Again an appreciative audience gave a very positive feedback. Then we shared the platform with other Cardiff choirs at St David's Hall for a couple of concerts - Fauré's Requiem with Owain Arwel Hughes, and Orff's Carmina Burana with Cardiff Philharmonia. Our summer concert at St German's featured the hugely talented young Cardiff violinist Charlie Lovell Jones, and included a performance of Brahms's Liebeslieder Walzer.
2014 Our 50th year anniversary programme of concerts began in November 2013 with a first performance in Wales of Gabriel Jackson's Requiem. Highlights of the year were undoubtedly the capacity audiences for the B Minor Mass in Llandaff Cathedral, the Anniversary Concert and reception at the RWCMD – at which we gave the first performance of two pieces specially written by Huw Watkins to commemorate the Anniversary (for which grateful thanks to Arts Council of Wales, Ty Cerdd, the National Lottery and the Welsh Assembly Government) – and the performance of Messiah in St David’s Hall in which we were joined by our patron Rebecca Evans and by Matthew Brook. Their performances were singled out in the Guardian review of the concert.
2015 In April we celebrated our 9 years partnership with outgoing conductor Neil Ferris with an a capela concert Take Flight for Heaven! which included Frank Martin's Mass for Double Choir and in June welcomed our new conductor David Young with a performance of Rutter's Sprig of Thyme and George Shearing's Songs and Sonnets. This was followed by a visit to Blackwood - Huw Watkins's home town - for a performance of the pieces written by Huw for the Choir during our 50th Anniversary year. In November we sang the Duruflé Requiem in Llandaff Cathedral with orchestra and with harpist Bethan Semmens. We finished the year with a Carol Concert in St Johns Church raising over £700 for the charity Meningitis Now.
2016 This was the first full year of our collaboration with our new conductor David Young which we celebrated with a series of highly successful concerts - three of which helped to generate income for the Alzheimer's Society, Meningitis Now and the charities supported this year by the Penarth Christmas Tree Festival. Our performances in the 2016 Welsh Proms earned some great reviews: "choral singing of the highest order" for our contribution to Verdi's Requiem and "truly sublime singing" for the World Premiere of Paul Mealor's The Shadows of War commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme which was broadcast live on Classic FM.
2017 This was a year where we liaised with many other choirs in some great joint concerts. Highlights undoubtedly were the performances with the Ardwyn Singers of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Dresden Philharmonic under Michael Sanderling in both Cadogan Hall and St David's Hall, the performance in June with Côrdydd and the Ardwyn and the Royal Philharmonic under the baton of Eric Whitacre and the performance of Dream of Gerontius in Lichfield Cathedral with Stafford Choral Society.The year ended in great style in a packed St David's Hall with the Choir giving an acclaimed performance of Messiah with the baroque instrument ensemble Réjouissance and with soloists Sarah Tynan, William Towers, Joshua Ellicott and Matthew Brook.
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