It has been said by every choir that has had the privilege to work with Stephen Layton that the experience was nothing less than miraculous. His choir Polyphony is lucky enough to work solely with him, as do the Holsts Singers and indeed Trinity College Choir, Cambridge where he is Director of Music. But Stephen doesn’t confine himself just to choral music; he succeeded the late Richard Hickox as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia in 2010 and he guest conducts widely across the Globe. He works with Seattle Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, Melbourne, Western Australian, Adelaide and Perth Symphony Orchestras and Queensland Symphony Orchestra. He also collaborates regularly with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music, Britten Sinfonia, the BBC Singers and many European Radio choirs.
Stephen Layton succeeded the late Richard Hickox as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia in September 2010. Founder and Director of Polyphony, Layton is also Music Director of Holst Singers and in 2006 was made a Fellow and Director of Music of Trinity College, Cambridge. His former posts include Chief Guest Conductor of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Kammerkoor and Director of Music at the Temple Church in London.
Layton guest-conducts widely and has worked extensively with the Hallé Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Singers, Estonian Philharmonic Choir, Latvian Radio Choir, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Queensland Symphony Orchestra. He also collaborates regularly with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, with whom he has recorded a wide range of repertoire including Bach, Handel, Bruckner, Poulenc and Stravinsky.
Recent highlights in Layton’s diary include a return to the Hallé Orchestra for a performance of their annual Messiah; a performance with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra of Bach Christmas Oratorio; performances with Die Konzertisten and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong; a performance with the Auckland Philharmonia and Choir of Bach Mass in B Minor and performances with Opera North of a critically acclaimed production of Handel Joshua. 2012/13 marked a significant season for Polyphony, with highlights including performances at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, as part of the Zaterdagmatinee series; Theatre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Belfast Festival, as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations; and at Aldeburgh for a Britten celebration. Last season also saw Layton dedicating time to projects with the City of London Sinfonia, including a Poulenc celebration and a tour of the major UK Cathedrals to further enforce the orchestra’s strong connection with choirs and vocal repertoire. Layton rounded off the season with a prestigious residency at the Cheltenham Music Festival with The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, and the City of London Sinfonia, and a performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Polyphony, at the Three Choirs Festival.
Highlights this season include Layton returning to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for performances of Bach Mass in B Minor, and to the Auckland Philharmonia and Choir for Bach St John Passion. Layton will also continue his relationship with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducting Bach St John Passion, with Polyphony, in both London and at DeSingel Antwerp. 2013/14 will see Layton focusing on a number choral projects including a return to the Danish National Vocal Ensemble for further performances of Ugis Praulins’ The Nightingale with Michala Petri, as well as making debut performances with the MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, and the Slovenian Chamber Choir. Projects with the City of London Sinfonia include a performance of Pärt Litany, with the Hilliard Ensemble, at Southwark Cathedral, and a performance of Tavener Protecting Veil with cellist, Matthew Barley, at Christ Church, Spitalfields. Layton and the CLS will also continue their tour of UK Cathedrals into the new season and will maintain their relationship with Polyphony through further performances of Mozart Requiem.
A champion of new music, Stephen Layton has premiered new repertoire by many composers, including Gabriel Jackson, Veljo Tormis and Morten Lauridsen and, more recently, by the young Latvian composer, Eriks Esenvalds. Layton’s bold realisation of Sir John Tavener’s epic seven-hour vigil The Veil of the Temple, a new departure in British choral music, met with outstanding acclaim both in London and New York.
Stephen Layton’s eclectic discography encompasses a vast range of repertoire, composers and genres. His Hyperion recording of Britten’s Sacred & Profane received both a Gramophone Award and the Diapason d’Or for best choral disc of the year in 2001, and his Hyperion recording of Tormis’s Songs with the Holst Singers received a Spanish CD Award in 2009. In the US, Layton was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2006, 2007 and 2012 for his Hyperion recordings of Cloudburst (Eric Whitacre), Lux Aeterna (Morten Lauridsen) and Beyond all mortal dreams (a collection of American a cappella repertoire) respectively. More recently Layton’s disc, The Nightingale, on OUR Recordings, with Michala Petri and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, was nominated for two 2013 Grammy Awards, and also won a prestigious Echo Klassik award in Germany. In September 2012, Layton received a further Gramophone Award for his Hyperion disc, Howells’s Requiem, with The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge as well as being nominated, in the same choral category, for his Poulenc disc, ‘Half Monk, Half Rascal’ also on OUR Recordings, with the Danish National Vocal Ensemble. Recent releases by Stephen Layton include a much-anticipated Bach St John Passion recording with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Polyphony, and Handel Chandos Anthems, and Bach Christmas Oratorio, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge.
Artist Website: www.stephenlayton.com
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Conducts Handel’s Joshua at Opera North “…The glory of this Joshua is the superb orchestral playing, and the conducting of Stephen Layton. He makes his Opera North debut bringing glowing, springing and instinctively breathed life to the score…”
Hilary Finch, The Times, May 2013
Records Bach’s St John Passion with Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment “… Stephen Layton’s outstanding new outstanding new St John is about as state-of-the-art a Bach Passion recording as you’ll hear…Alongside the top-class and pliable choral singing of Polyphony comes the roll call of exceptional soloists…”
Stephen Layton conducts Trinity College Choir, Cambridge in Herbert Howells “Collegium Regale”, and other choral works including “Nunc dimittis” and “Psalm 122
Stephen Layton directs the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. There are few choirs around today who can match the unbridled excellence of Trinity Cambridge. On this new album we find great carols both old and new. Add in some astonishing fresh arrangements and we have twenty-one tracks of pure festive indulgence
Handel – CHANDOS ANTHEMS Nos. 5a, 6a & 8
Susan Gritton (soprano), Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor), Thomas Hobbs (tenor) with The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Stephen Layton.
Bach – ST JOHN PASSION
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor), Ian Bostridge (tenor), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone) and Neal Davies (bass-baritone) with Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Stephen Layton