The Sixteen’s 18th Choral Pilgrimage

Tickets are now on sale for the 2018 Tour which starts at St Albans Cathedral on Saturday 14 April! This year’s focus by Harry Christophers and The Sixteen is on works By William Cornysh (both Elder and Younger) and Benjamin Britten.

Four centuries separate this year’s chosen composers but, as Harry Christophers says, both were prolific writers of both sacred and secular music. Click here for full details of venues, the programme and lots more information about  this very special group of singers. Just in case you aren’t able to see them in person the accompanying CD Sacred and Profane, featuring all the music, has just been released and is available at the concerts or from the website:

The Sixteen started as an unnamed group of friends in 1977, and specialises in early English polyphony as well as 20th century music. Today they are “The Voices of Classic FM”, TV media partner with Sky Arts and associate artists of the Southbank Centre in London and Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. They also promote an annual series at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as well as their annual cathedral tour.

Through the years many members of the choir have enjoyed a chorister training.  In the current line up this includes Emilia Morton and Camilla Harris who were at Salisbury Cathedral and educated at Salisbury Cathedral School; Jeremy Budd and George Pooley sang at St Paul’s Cathedral; Daniel Collins was at Christ Church, Oxford and Joshua Cooter, in the choir at Chichester Cathedral, went to The Prebendal School.

CSA asked Harry what being a chorister meant to him.

‘I don’t think it would be an understatement to say that I owe my whole career to the good fortune I had by being a chorister at one of this country’s most stunning cathedrals. I quite simply adored my time at Canterbury Cathedral; in those days it had its own choir school comprising just under 50 boys (a mix of dayboys and boarders).

My love of music was kindled there but this was principally down to one man who I have regarded ever since as my sole mentor. Allan Wicks was that very special person; he gave us all a simple love of singing, music was joy under his direction. Allan quite simply liberated us all. He not only instilled in us a love of music but a love of life in general. We were called by our Christian names and we were treated as adults. Rehearsals were hard but they were also at times riotous. He knew just how much he had to rehearse and when we had to let off steam.

Allan championed contemporary music at a time when few organists and choirmasters had the courage and the expertise to do so, introducing the likes of Messiaen, Ligeti, Tippett and Maxwell Davies to the concert going public and to the congregation. But he also had a love for the great music of the renaissance and he knew instinctively how that music suited the stone work of Canterbury Cathedral.  He allowed us to sing; boys voice services were memorable for their anthems – soprano and alto arias from the Bach Passions or Handel Oratorios. Allan was always creative not only in his music but in his extraordinary development of the Cathedral choir.

I always get a thrill walking into the cathedral as I do when I enter all of the cathedrals we go to today on our Choral Pilgrimage. These are buildings which quite simply inspire us.”

Harry Christophers CBE [Canterbury Cathedral Chorister 1963-67]