Harry Christophers and The Sixteen were involved in two major Genesis Foundation projects throughout 2016. On 15 October, the ensemble debuted a new Stabat Mater from James MacMillan at the Barbican Centre, the most ambitious Genesis Foundation commission to date. Earlier in the year, the group partook in the first Catholic service to be celebrated at Hampton Court Palace’s Chapel Royal in 450 years.
After thirty years of worldwide performance and recording The Sixteen, founded and conducted by Harry Christophers, is recognised as one of the world’s leading ensembles in its field. Comprising both choir and period-instrument orchestra, The Sixteen has gained a particular reputation for performances of early English polyphony, Renaissance, Baroque, early Classical and 20th Century music.
Perhaps the most significant ongoing collaboration with The Sixteen has been the formation of Genesis Sixteen, a free young artists’ scheme which aims to nurture the next generation of talented choral singers. Participants receive group tuition, individual mentoring and masterclasses run by some of the industry’s top vocal experts. Alumni of this unique programme, the first of its kind in the UK, have already gone on to great things. A number of them have set up their own choirs including ‘Eo Nomine’, whilst many are now performing, recording and touring with professional groups, including The Sixteen.
Stabat Mater: Spirit, Strength and Sorrow
In June 2014 The Sixteen gave the world premieres of three new settings of the Stabat Mater text, composed by Alissa Firsova, Matthew Martin and Tõnu Kõrvits and commissioned by the Genesis Foundation. The premieres took place in a free concert at LSO St Luke’s, followed by a private evening concert at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Funded by the Genesis Foundation, the works were subsequently recorded on The Sixteen’s own record label Coro. The album, which is now available here, was launched in October 2014 to extensive coverage in the press.
Photos from the premiere concerts at LSO St Luke’s and the V&A Museum are available here.
Music for The Spanish Mystics
Composers Ruth Byrchmore, Tarik O’Regan and Roderick Williams were commissioned by the Genesis Foundation to write music to poetry of the Spanish Mystics St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross. Harry Christophers and The Sixteen premiered their new works in a free concert at St James’s Church on 14 June 2011.
The Genesis Foundation also funded a recording of this music by The Sixteen on their Coro label, available here.
Photos from the event and the post-concert reception at the Spanish Ambassador’s residence are available here.
Padre Pio Premieres
In June 2008 at Westminster Cathedral, The Sixteen gave premieres of three works commissioned by the Genesis Foundation, each a setting of Padre Pio’s Prayer after Communion, Stay with Me Lord.
The three composers were James Macmillan, Roxanna Panufnik (whose Westminster Mass, commissioned by John Studzinski, was premiered in Westminster Cathedral in 1998) and Will Todd.
Westminster Cathedral was full to capacity for the premieres of the three works and The Sixteen’s CD of Padre Pio Premieres, on the group’s own label, Coro, subsequently became a major success. The CD is available here.
Photos from the CD launch can be viewed here.
The first Genesis Foundation commission for The Sixteen was Will Todd’s Among Angels, dedicated to John Studzinski on the occasion of his 50th birthday. Premiered by The Sixteen in Salzburg and in London it has also been recorded on the group’s own label, Coro.