"Voices immaculately balanced and sublimely paced"
Jeremy Pound, BBC Music Magazine
Representation: UK, Ireland, Austria, Scandinavia, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and Asia
Photo: Nick Rutter
Over four decades of performance and a catalogue of award-winning recordings for Gimell, Peter Phillips and The Tallis Scholars have done more than any other group to establish sacred vocal music of the Renaissance as one of the great repertoires of Western classical music. They have sought to bring Renaissance works to a wider audience in churches, cathedrals and venues on every continent on the planet except Antarctica! They continue to develop their exclusive sound, praised by reviewers for its supple clarity and tone, and to bring fresh interpretations to music by contemporary as well as past composers.
The Tallis Scholars were founded in 1973 by their director, Peter Phillips. Through their recordings and concert performances, they have established themselves as the leading exponents of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world. Peter Phillips has worked with the ensemble to create, through good tuning and blend, the purity and clarity of sound which he feels best serve the Renaissance repertoire, allowing every detail of the musical lines to be heard. It is the resulting beauty of sound for which The Tallis Scholars have become so widely renowned.
The Tallis Scholars perform in both sacred and secular venues, usually giving around 70 concerts each year across the globe. In 2013 the group celebrated their 40th anniversary with a World Tour performing 99 events in 80 venues in 16 countries and travelling sufficient air-miles to circumnavigate the globe four times. They kicked off the year with a spectacular concert in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, including a performance of Thomas Tallis’ 40-part motet Spem in alium and the world premieres of works written specially for them by Gabriel Jackson and Eric Whitacre. Their recording of the Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas by John Taverner, was released on the exact anniversary of their first concert in 1973 and enjoyed six weeks at number one in the UK Specialist Classical Album Chart. On 21st September 2015 the group gave their 2000th concert at St John’s Smith Square in London.
Highlights in the 2018/19 season include performances in: Salzburg Festival, Bremen and Utrecht Festivals, a special concert at Miller Theatre, NY where they will give the world premiere of a new Nico Muhly piece, and tours of Japan and Brazil, in addition to their usual touring schedule around the USA, Europe and the UK.
Recordings by The Tallis Scholars have attracted many awards throughout the world. In 1987 their recording of Josquin’s Missa La sol fa re mi and Missa Pange lingua received Gramophone magazine’s Record of the Year award, the first recording of early music ever to win this coveted award. In 1989 the French magazine Diapason gave two of its Diapason d’Or de l’Année awards for the recordings of a mass and motets by Lassus and for Josquin’s two masses based on the chanson L’Homme armé. Their recording of Palestrina’s Missa Assumpta est Maria and Missa Sicut lilium was awarded Gramophone’s Early Music Award in 1991; they received the 1994 Early Music Award for their recording of music by Cipriano de Rore; and the same distinction again in 2005 for their disc of music by John Browne. The Tallis Scholars were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001, 2009 and 2010. In November 2012 their recording of Josquin’s Missa De beata virgine and Missa Ave maris stella received a Diapason d’Or de l’Année and in their 40th anniversary year they were welcomed into the Gramophone ‘Hall of Fame’ by public vote. In a departure for the group in Spring 2015 The Tallis Scholars released a disc of music by Arvo Pärt called Tintinnabuli which has receive great praise across the board. The latest recording of Josquin masses, Missa Gaudeamus and Missa L’ami Baudichon, was released in November 2018. This is the 7th of 9 albums in The Tallis Scholars’ project to record all of Josquin’s masses before the composer’s 500th Anniversary in 2021.
Promoters please note: if you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please contact Hazard Chase to ensure that you receive the most up to date version. Email: Sarah Mansfield
“There is a pleasure in music that whets the audience’s appetite: to either follow the complex unfolding of the polyphonic motets, or simply to lose oneself in the sound-world… Conclusion: An all-round perfect concert, full of precision and passion. (Trans.)”
“perfect storm of singing… the esteemed English vocal ensemble delivered a brilliant program in all respects: use of the space and of the singers, and choice of literature… The afternoon was a revelation in capturing an audience’s mind.”
“Tallis Scholars Shine in Music Inspired by The Sistine Chapel… The a capella polyphony of the ten Tallis Scholars vocalists was transcendent. one might even say, trance-inducing… Whether you are religious or not, this program of Renaissance polyphony sung by The Tallis Scholars was nothing short of heavenly.”
BBC Prom, August 2011 “Those who stayed on for the late-night Prom by the Tallis Scholars had the benefit of the evening’s most compelling experience…. Inspiring and deeply moving” The Telegraph, *****, August 2011
“One of the biggest audiences for a late-night prom I’ve ever seen… The 12 singers of the Tallis Scholars understand this musical world as well as anyone can today. They floated the long-limbed lines of the polyphony with unaffected directness, while Phillips shaped them in a perfectly understated way, with the Albert Hall’s resonance for once adding bloom rather than blur to the textures.” The Guardian, August 2011
The Tallis Scholars directed by Peter Phillips perform Missa Gaudeamus and Missa L’ami Baudechon
Josquin – MASSES
The Tallis Scholars directed by Peter Phillips perform Missa di Dadi and Missa Une Mousse de Biscaye
Taverner – MISSA CORONA SPINEA
The Tallis Scholars directed by Peter Phillips. The Missa Corona spinea is a kind of treble concerto, packed with mind-blowing sonorities. If ever there was music to exemplify Shakespeare’s ‘Music of the Spheres’, it is here, and especially in the two ecstatic treble gimells. The first performance, probably in front of Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, must have been an astonishing occasion.
Pärt – TINTINNABULI
It is with great pleasure that Gimell present their tribute to Arvo Pärt in his 80th year. Tintinnabuli (from the Latin for ‘bell’) is the compositional style created by Arvo Pärt which informs every work on this recording. In all my searchings for inspiring contemporary music I have not come across anyone to rival him.