News Release: SIMON RUSSELL BEALE NARRATES THE FIRST MUSEUM CHORAL AUDIO GUIDE...A SOUNDTRACK TO FIVE CENTURIES OF PORTRAITS CREATED BY GALLERY’S CHOIR IN RESIDENCE
Monday 25 July 2016
The National Portrait Gallery will create the world’s first museum permanent collection Choral Audio Guide, it was announced today, Monday 25 July 2016.
Launching on Friday 14 October 2016 with two special Gallery events, the Choral Audio Guide was recorded by The Portrait Choir, which is at the heart of the Gallery’s Choir in Residence programme. The Choral Audio Guide was made possible with support from Gallery donors.
Narrated by actor Simon Russell Beale, the Audio Guide will illuminate portraits in the Gallery’s permanent Collection by offering visitors the opportunity to hear the choral sounds of each time-period spanned by the portraits in its 500-year Collection. A specially commissioned narration will provide the context for each choral piece.
Starting with Tallis and Wilbye in the Tudor Galleries, and moving to Purcell and Handel in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century galleries; Mendelssohn and Sullivan in the Nineteenth; and Elgar, Britten and Tippett in the Twentieth; the Audio Guide will provide a unique soundtrack to five centuries of portraits.
The Choral Audio Guide is brought to the Contemporary Galleries with music including Tavener’s The Lamb from 1968 before ending right up to date with a specially commissioned choral piece Te Lucis ante terminum by composer James Burton. Burton’s piece will set to music extracts from the National Portrait Gallery’s Special Constabulary Report Book, from 1914-20, when the basement of the Gallery was used as a place of safe haven during the First World War London bombings.
To mark the launch of the Guide there will be a sound installation throughout the Gallery of tracks from the Choral Audio Guide as well as live pop-up performances by The Portrait Choir. Artistic Director Gregory Batsleer will discuss the Choral Audio Guide at an In Conversation event at the Gallery with BBC Radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton Hill.
The Audio Guide is being produced by Philip Hobbs of Linn Records and will be available to download online for £3.
Formed in 2013 The Portrait Choir is the National Portrait Gallery’s Choir in Residence. The Portrait Choir commissions and performs at least one new work each year. Performing with up to 22 singers The Portrait Choir is made up of some of the UK’s finest young professional singers.
Ms Pim Baxter, Deputy Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Since The Portrait Choir was formed in 2013 we have heard a range of wonderful music being performed at the Gallery under Gregory’s thoughtful and creative direction, including specially commissioned pieces composed around works in the Collection or special exhibitions. In the new Audio Guide we have captured a tangible example of the Portrait Choir which can not only be enjoyed by visitors to the Gallery but also much further afield.’
National Portrait Gallery, Friday 14 October 2016, 18:30-20:00
A specially created sound installation of choral music inspired by the Gallery’s Collection as well as pop-up performances by the Portrait Choir. Admission Free
IN CONVERSATION: A CHORAL AUDIO GUIDE
National Portrait Gallery, Friday 14 October 2016, 19:30
BBC Radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton-Hill is joined by Portrait Choir Artistic Director Gregory Batsleer and a Gallery curator, to discuss the Choral Audio Guide and how Portraiture and Music can go hand in hand.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
Choral Audio Guide – Track List and Gallery Room:
Main Hall Tallis – Miserere Nosti 1575
2 Wilbye – The Lady Oriana 1601
5 Bennet – Mother I will have a husband 1620
9 Purcell – If Love’s a Sweet Passion from ‘The Indian Queen’ 1692
12 Handel – For Unto Us from ‘Messiah’ 1741
17 Fanny Hensel – Abendlich 1820
20 Mendelssohn – Cast thy burden upon the Lordfrom ‘Elijah’1846
21 Sullivan – Chorus from ‘Iolanthe’ 1885
25 Elgar – My Love Dwelt in a Northern land 1890
28 Muriel Herbert – Flower Song 1905
30 Parry – My Soul there is a country 1918
31 Tippett – Nobody knows from ‘A Child of our Time’ 1941
31 Britten The Evening Primrose 1950
31 Vaughan Williams – The Cloud Capped Towers 1955
32 Tavener – The Lamb 1968
32/35 James Burton – Te lucis ante terminumA Portrait Choir Commission2016
The Portrait Choir
Formed in June 2013, The Portrait Choir is at the heart of the National Portrait Gallery’s Choir in Residence programme. The Portrait Choir is made up of some of the UK’s finest young professional singers, many of whom have recently graduated from a number of the country’s most prestigious music institutions and sing as soloists and in other leading chamber choirs. The Portrait Choir takes residence in the Gallery around four times a year and performs music which explores some of the themes associated with the Gallery’s Collection, exhibitions and displays.
The Portrait Choir has collaborated with various leading artists and ensembles, including New Century Baroque, Florilegium and the Royal College of Music Baroque Orchestra. The Choir have also given a number of performances outside of the Gallery. In the summer they appeared for a second time at the Latitude Festival and performed at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in a production of All the Angels: Handel and the first Messiah. The Portrait Choir also has a strong commitment to new music. Recent commissions include works by Josephine Stephenson, Ben Parry, James Burton, Freya Waley-Cohen and Will Dutta, the Gallery’s Creative Programmer, Friday Night Music.
Gregory Batsleer – Artistic Director, The Portrait Choir
Gregory’s current posts include Artistic Director of the National Portrait Gallery Choir in Residence programme, Chorus Director with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus Director with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Gregory frequently works with international conductors including Sir Mark Elder, Robin Ticciati, Emmanuel Krivine, Sir Roger Norrington, Philippe Herreweghe and Richard Egarr. Previous posts include Director of Choirs at Manchester University, Director of the Hallé Youth Choir and Assistant Conductor with the Amadeus Orchestra. As a guest conductor Gregory’s recent and forthcoming work includes performances with the Rodolfus Choir, Hallé Orchestra, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, RCM Parry Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, Ensemble Serse and the Edinburgh International Festival. Outside the classical world, Gregory is Artistic Director of live music promoters Pencil Presents which will be launching a new set of music events across the UK in 2016. He has worked as musical consultant on various plays and was recently nominated for an ‘Off West End’ award. He has also collaborated with leading artists including Damon Albarn, Elbow, Clean Bandit and the band James. Gregory studied and held scholarships at Princeton University and the Royal College of Music, and continues to study conducting with Neil Ferris. He was recently awarded the first ever Arts Foundation Fellowship in Choral Conducting.