Hertfordshire Chorus is known for commissioning new music, high-quality yet passionate singing, tackling difficult, rarely performed music as well as much-loved and well-known pieces and is one of the UK’s finest symphonic choirs.
Under the musical direction of David Temple MBE, our members give their all to singing, believing in the sheer joy and power of music to bring people closer together.
We perform not only in Hertfordshire, frequently in St Albans Cathedral, but also in major venues such as the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, St John’s Smith Square and Sage Gateshead.
Our repertoire is hugely varied and has included Glass Songs from Liquid Days, Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Janacek Glagolitic Mass, Poulenc Gloria, Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms and John Adams Harmonium, critically acclaimed performances of Elgar’s The Kingdom and The Apostles and our commission from Shruthi Rajasekar, Sarojini.
In 2017 we appeared at the London Jazz Festival singing Rio Amazonas by Roland Perrin and performed Bliss Morning Heroes and Britten Ballad of Heroes with the BBC Concert Orchestra, broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Our recordings for Signum Records include our commissions Codebreaker by James McCarthy and Ode to a Nightingale by Will Todd. More recently, our recordings of Christmas carols Nova! Nova! Joy to the World and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man have been released to critical acclaim.
We are privileged to have Lord and Lady Salisbury and Bob Wilson as our Honorary Patrons.
Hertfordshire Chorus can trace its origins back over 60 years to the Hatfield School of Music and Drama, founded in 1960. The School’s choir and orchestra, soon to be named the Hatfield Philharmonic Society, came under the artistic direction of Vernon Handley.
Frank Shipway became the conductor in 1970 with Peter Murray and then Malcolm Hicks as chorus master. The chorus was first named Hatfield Philharmonic Chorus in 1971. In 1974, with Malcolm Cottle as chorus master, the chorus took part in a performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius at the Royal Festival Hall to mark Frank Shipway’s tenth anniversary as Director of the Forest Philharmonic Orchestra.
Michael Kibblewhite was appointed chorus master in 1975.
In June 1977 the Chorus took part in a performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony in the Royal Albert Hall conducted by Frank Shipway. That December, Michael Kibblewhite directed chorus and orchestra in a concert including the commissioned first performance of All the World’s a Stage by Phyllis Tate with Lesley Garrett as the soprano soloist. In 1978 the Society appointed Howard Burrell to conduct the orchestra alongside Michael Kibblewhite’s choir, succeeding Frank Shipway.
The following year the orchestra and chorus performed Britten’s War Requiem as the opening concert of the Tenth International Organ Festival at St Alban’s Abbey. Soloists were Elizabeth Harwood, Ian Partridge and Benjamin Luxon.
In 1980, with the loss of an essential grant, Hatfield Philharmonic Society decided to separate orchestra and chorus, Hatfield Philharmonic Chorus becoming an independent organisation. Hatfield Philharmonic Orchestra was renamed the de Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra in 2003.
Michael Kibblewhite became the Musical Director and conductor of the new chorus, bringing in professional orchestras for concerts and building on the reputation of the choir.
In 1992 the choir changed its name to Hertfordshire Chorus.
During Michael Kibblewhite’s time as conductor, the Chorus toured to Italy, Yugoslavia, Belgium, France, Austria and Israel. in 1995, as part of English Festival Voices, the Chorus opened the Saarland Music Festival performing Vaughan William’s Sea Symphony with the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honek.
Memorable concerts included performances of Arthur Bliss Morning Heroes, later recorded for Cala Records, Berlioz Damnation of Faust, Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, JS Bach St Matthew and St John Passions and Mass in B minor, Elgar The Apostles and The Kingdom, Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony, Verdi Requiem and many more, both home and abroad.
Our current Musical Director David Temple took over from Michael Kibblewhite in September 2000 and, under his inspiring direction, the Chorus has continued to develop and prosper, broadening its repertoire and enhancing its reputation.