THE TWENTY YEAR HISTORY OF MANCHESTER CHAMBER CHOIR (2003 - 2023)
Manchester Chamber Choir was founded by a group of friends in 2003. They had a shared passion for singing interesting and varied music, initially gathering in each other’s front rooms to rehearse.
Today, the choir still holds that same passion for quality music-making, and now hosts its own season of concerts in and around Manchester. The choir regularly works alongside the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and has also performed with the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, as well as supporting performers including Hans Zimmer, Jarvis Cocker, Andrea Bocelli, and the Pet Shop Boys. Some of the choir's premiere performances include James Macmillan’s Credo at the 2012 BBC Proms and Mark Simpson’s acclaimed oratorio The Immortal at the 2015 Manchester International Festival.
The choir relishes the challenge to work with a range of conductors who bring their individual passions and knowledge to the programme. The choir’s current Principal Conductor is Vicente Chavarría, appointed in 2021. In recent seasons the choir has also sung under the batons of conductors including Nicholas Kraemer, Paul Spicer, Suzzie Vango, Ewa Strusinska and Philip Rushforth.
The end of 2017 and into the New Year saw the choir travel to Xi’an in China and give a televised performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony with the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra. This was followed in March by a concert in Manchester Cathedral conducted by Jonny Lo, celebrating both the centenary of Leonard Bernstein and also the cathedral’s new organ.
In recent years, the choir welcomed back Paul Spicer for a performance of Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil in Salford Cathedral, performed a concert reflecting a century since the end of the First World War and also of women’s suffrage under the direction of Suzzie Vango, and enjoyed working with Philip Rushforth in a concert including Walton’s Cantico del Sole. Towards the end of 2019, Jonny Lo conducted us in a magical performance of Brahms’ A German Requiem, and we gave two concerts in The Bridgewater Hall for the Manchester Midday Concerts Society.
Our final two concerts before we were sadly, like all choirs, silenced by the pandemic, involved collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic orchestra commemorating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven. However, we were delighted to return in the autumn of 2021 after our enforced hiatus of some 19 months with a season of four concerts under our new musical director, Vicente Chavarría, as well as returning to our collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic with our upper voices joining them for a performance of Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia Antartica in the composer’s 150th anniversary year. In the summer of 2023, we marked the 20th anniversary of our formation with a joyous selection of some of our favourite choral pieces over the last two decades.
We have an exciting programme of events for the 2023-24 season, and we are looking forward to working with Suzzie Vango and Nicholas Kraemer and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra again in the spring.
PRINCIPAL CONDUCTOR - VICENTE CHAVARRÍA
Conductor, composer, and scholar Vicente Chavarría has worked with the Croydon Youth Orchestra, Oxford University Orchestra, Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra, and Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra, and participated in masterclasses with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Salomon Orchestra.
A graduate of the Royal College of Music in London, he worked with all of the RCM orchestras, New Perspectives, New Ensemble, and Conductors Orchestra. He has also assisted such conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bernard Haitink, Andrew Gourlay, Maxim Vengerov, and Holly Mathieson. He was Assistant Conductor for six productions of the RCM Opera Studio (including conducting the closing night of the Summer 2019 season) and assisted conductor Michael Rosewell at English Touring Opera.
A versatile musician, he performs with Dowland Works (with Dame Emma Kirkby) and the BBC Symphony Chorus, and has previously performed with LASchola, Bach-Collegium San Diego, the Boston Camerata, and Park Collegium (Belgium), among many others. He has performed in masterclasses with Martyn Brabbins, Jac van Steen, Andreas Scholl, Anne Azéma, Xavier Díaz-Latorre, and the Hilliard Ensemble, and under the batons of Sir Andrew Davis, Sakari Oramo, Michael Tilson Thomas, Donald Runnicles, and Martyn Brabbins. He has also performed at the Berkeley and Boston Early Music Festivals. A pupil of Morten Lauridsen and Haris Kittos, his compositions and arrangements have been performed around the world.
A freelancer since age sixteen and lifelong church musician, he is currently Choral Scholar at St John's Church, Fulham and Music Director Emeritus at St Dominic Church, Miami (USA). In Autumn 2021, as well as the position of Principal Conductor of the Manchester Chamber Choir, he takes up the posts of Musical Director of the Bath-based chamber choir The Handful, and Choral Scholar at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.
Vicente holds previous degrees from the Universities of Miami and Southern California (USA), and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Leuven (Belgium). At the RCM, he studied conducting with Peter Stark, Howard Williams, and Martyn Brabbins. He was previously the Artistic Director and Founder of the early music ensembles Flos Campi and La Monarca as well as the Fra Angelico Chamber Choir and the Sibelius Camerata, and Director of the Gloria Dei Choir. In his spare time (?!), he is the host of the podcast Singing For Your Supper and enjoys relaxing hobbies such as planespotting and cooking.