An installment of the Oxford Series on the Choralosophy Podcast
In choral music, in a different way than in other types of music making, WE ARE the instrument. This creates a unique vulnerability within choral music. If my saxophone is flat, I can fix the ligature, and EXTERNALIZE the problem. With singers, we must still fix technical things, but we can’t escape INTERNALIZING the problem. In a profound way, the same reason many are attracted to singing, is the reason many are also afraid of it. There is power in conquering that fear.
In this open conversation, renowned composer, arranger and long time King’s Singer Bob Chilcott and I discuss performance anxiety, the unique properties of choral music, his transitions between performer and conductor, and much more. This conversation is a must listen!
As a composer, conductor, and singer, Bob Chilcott has enjoyed a lifelong association with choral music, first as a chorister and choral scholar in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and for 12 years as a member of the King’s Singers. He became a full-time composer in 1997, and has produced a large catalogue of music for all types of choirs which is published by Oxford University Press. His most often performed pieces include Can you hear me?, A Little Jazz Mass, Requiem, and the St John Passion.
Bob has conducted choirs in more than 30 countries worldwide and has worked with many thousands of amateur singers across the UK in a continuing series of Singing Days. For seven years he was conductor of the Chorus of The Royal College of Music in London and since 2002 he has been Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Singers. In 2017 Bob was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by The Royal School of Church Music and in 2019 takes up the role of Principal Conductor Birmingham University Singers.
His music has been widely recorded by leading British choirs and groups including The King’s Singers, King’s College, Cambridge, Wells Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The Sixteen, Tenebrae, The BBC Singers, The Bach Choir, Commotio, and Ora. In 2016 he enjoyed a collaboration with the celebrated singer Katie Melua on the album In Winter. In 2017 two new discs were released by Commotio and Choralis – All Good Things on Naxos, and In Winter’s Arms on Signum, his first recording collaboration with an American choir. Newer recording projects are with the BBC Singers, Houston Chamber Choir, and Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir.