SOUTHERN VOICES concerts are an established part of WIinchester’s musical calendar thanks to the choir’s long-standing reputation for performing challenging and original programmes to exceptionally high standards.
The choir was founded by Graham Caldbeck in 1984. Under his direction, the choir performed a variety of new works, including pieces written by Graham himself. Other composers whose work has received world premieres on the Southern Voices stage include John Tavener (Marienhymne), the Hampshire millennium composer Martin Read, and Andrew Simpson, whose Magnificat was commissioned to mark the choir’s 20th anniversary.
Graham was succeeded by Philip Scriven, with Charles Stewart taking up the director’s baton for 10 years from 2002. Katherine Dienes-Williams became Musical Director in January 2012.
Southern Voices prides itself on tackling a wide repertoire of works large and small, introducing both singers and audiences to little-heard pieces by well-known composers and new works by less familiar names. Concerts have become widely acclaimed as inspirational journeys of musical and emotional discovery and strong links have been established with orchestras including Southern Sinfonia. Memorable collaborations include James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross in 2009 and Bach’s St Matthew Passion in 2011, both in Winchester Cathedral.
Other acclaimed chamber performances by the 40 or so voices include Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Mass in B minor and St John Passion, Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus, the Monteverdi Vespers (1610) Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil (Vespers) and Mozart’s Mass in C minor. In recent years the music of contemporary American and British composers including Lauridsen, Whitacre, CHilcott and O’Regan has brought a new dimension to the choir’s programming.
Choir tours have included Florence and the Loire valley. In 2008 Souther Voices released its first professional CD: A Winchester Christmas. The singers are fortunate to work with distinguished organists, vocal soloists and instrumentalists and Southern Voices frequently includes young musicians in its performances.
Southern Voices performs in a variety of venues across the region and members are committed to undertaking charity performances whenever the increasing cost of staging concerts allows. The choir is proud to be associated with high profile events including the Southern Cathedrals Festival, Hampshire Singing Competition, Winchester Festival and the Art and Mind Festival (in association with the University of Winchester).