LONDON – The first choir in residence program at any museum or gallery in Britain has been developed by the National Portrait Gallery, London, it was announced today.
Spanning music from all periods, the Portrait Choir, will be in residence at the National Portrait Gallery at least five times a year, over the next three years, to perform a wide repertoire of choral works in gallery spaces that relate to portrait themes, the collection and the exhibitions program. While performances by the Portrait Choir will be at the core of the residency the choir will also invite visitors, gallery staff and members of the public to take part in community singing and youth singing days, alongside other collaborations outside the gallery.
A chamber choir of up to 22 members, the Portrait Choir will be led by Artistic Director Gregory Batsleer. Many of its members have either recently finished, or will just be completing, their studies at some of Britain’s most prestigious music conservatoires. The choir will be mentored by four experienced professional singers.
The Portrait Choir will commission and perform one new work each year and there are plans for up to two opera productions over the next three years as well as engagements outside the Gallery.
The Portrait Choir will give its inaugural concert on Friday, June 28, as part of the gallery’s popular Late Shift Friday evening program, followed by two daytime concerts on Saturday June 29. These free performances will include music inspired by the gallery’s portraits of composers and performers including Byrd, Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Thomas Adès, and a new commissioned work by composer Ben Parry.
Manchester-born Gregory Batsleer, 24, is currently chorus master with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra He has previously held choral conducting positions at the Hallé, RNCM, Princeton University and with the Amadeus Orchestra. He has recently worked as guest conductor with the National Youth Choir, Brandenburg Sinfonia, Rodolfus Choir and the Hallé Orchestra.
The Portrait Choir will be at the center of a new three-year choral initiative which Batsleer says “is an exciting new venture for choral music in the UK. The choir in residence program aims to provide our visitors with new ways of appreciating portraiture and music and our hope is that it becomes an integral part of the National Portrait Gallery’s work.”
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