London Philharmonic Choir
The London Philharmonic Choir (LPC) is one of the leading independent British choirs in the United Kingdom based in London. The patron is Princess Alexandra, The Hon Lady Ogilvy and Sir Mark Elder is president. The choir, comprising more than 200 members, holds charitable status and is governed by a committee of 6 elected directors. As a charity, its aims are to promote, improve, develop and maintain education in the appreciation of the art and science of music by the presentation of public concerts.
The LPC was formed in 1946 with Frederic Jackson as chorus master, for the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO). On 15 May 1947, the choir made its début with a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall under the baton of Victor de Sabata. Their first recording was of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms with the LPO in 1947 followed by the first radio broadcast of Vaughan Williams' Sancta Civitas and Verdi's Stabat Mater in March 1948 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Throughout Jackson's tenure (1947–1969), the choir worked closely with the LPO and with major conductors and soloists of the period including Sir Adrian Boult, Eduard van Beinum, Dame Janet Baker, Peter Pears and Kathleen Ferrier. Despite funding cuts to the LPO in the 1950s, the choir maintained work by being engaged by other orchestras. By the mid 1960s LPC's performance standards were slipping and Jackson was invited to retire. His successor, John Alldis improved the standards of the choir and also encouraged the performance of contemporary works such as David Bedford's Star clusters, Nebulae and Places in Devon. The choir worked with Bernard Haitink and Sir John Pritchard during their time as LPO Principal conductors in the 1970s. A noted LPC recording called Sounds of Glory in 1976, now marketed as Praise – 18 Choral Masterpieces, has become the best-selling recording for the choir to date. In 1979, LPC undertook its first overseas tour to Germany.
In 1982, Richard Cooke succeeded Alldis as Chorus Master and saw the choir through a productive decade. In 1984, the choir registered as a charity. The choir performed under Georg Solti and Klaus Tennstedt who were the two principal LPO conductors of that decade. The LPC also continued to enjoy touring overseas. A noted recording with Tennstedt of the Mahler eighth symphony won an award in 1987. However, the early 1990s was a period of turmoil for the LPO and LPC as financial recession and resignations at the LPO created a climate of uncertainty, while there was some press opposition to the appointment of Franz Welser-Möst as Principal Conductor. Cooke resigned in 1991 due in part to the strained working relationship with Welser-Möst and disputes between choir and LPO management. The LPO appointed Jeremy Jackman as the next Chorus Master in 1992. However, with the choir's difficulties being widely advertised, existing membership levels declined and recruitment of new members became a challenge. Jackman resigned in 1994 after only two seasons at the helm.
Neville Creed became the next Chorus Master (1994–present). His enthusiasm helped to build back morale and membership. In 1996, at the end of the Welser-Möst tenure, the LPC became autonomous after being severed from the LPO's payroll. During this bleak period, the choir was able to secure concerts with other London orchestras and with arts promotion institutions such as IMG Artists and Raymond Gubbay for much needed financial aid. Over time, the choir's performance standard, visibility and reputation improved. Eventually, relations with the LPO settled into mutual respect and good will and the LPC was given the right of first refusal for most future choral projects with the LPO. In 1997, the choir celebrated its 50th anniversary with a concert at the Albert Hall attended by Princess Alexandra and Ursula Vaughan Williams. In 2002, the choir adopted a new constitution and became a registered charity with the legal protection of a limited company. For their 60th anniversary in 2007, the book Hallelujah! An informal history of the London Philharmonic Choir was published. The LPC continues to work closely with the LPO's Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski (2007–present) and Guest Principal Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin (2009–present).
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