Reviews of the Choir

Reviews of the recording Hymn to St Cecilia

*****
"Here's a ravishingly beautiful testimony to the allure of music's patron saint to composers. Focusing on British composers from the last and present centuries, it's a glorious compendium in every way. Two first recordings catch the attention: James MacMillan's Cecilia virgo, a radiant concoction for double choir blissfully fusing bitonality and contrapuntalism; and Gabriel Jackson's La musique, a substantial 13-minute work setting Baudelaire and Elisabeth Bishop, and featuring Felicity Lott in gloriously crystalline voice, Britten's Hymn to St Cecilia receives a beautifully brittle and burnished reading from the ever-impeccable Royal Holloway Choir under Rupert Gough (who also provides excellent booklet notes) and there are first rate performances of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bliss and other to enjoy"
(Michael Quinn - Choir & Organ)

"With their latest disc, The Choir of Royal Holloway and Music Director Rupert Gough ensure that Oxbridge ensembles don't have it all their own way when it comes to great university choirs. Gough's projects are reliably interesting and this latest - is no different....If the handful of soprano solos spread across the disc are anything to go by, Gough has an exceptional group of singers here."
(Alexandra Coghlan - Gramophone)

Reviews of the recording Kreek's notebook

'The Choir of Royal Holloway's championship of the music of the Baltic countries is a true feather in their cap, as this recording proves once again … these simple, memorable melodies are couched in Kõrvits's lush (but never too lush) arrangements … performances and recording are outstanding'
( Gramophone)

'Kõrvits is euphoniously fanciful, threading together elements of Lutheran hymnody with runic song, and vocal ornamentation with chamber-musical textures … this Baltic compilation is given gently sympathetic performances by the student singers of Royal Holloway College and the Britten Sinfonia under Rupert Gough'
(BBC Music Magazine)
'This album proclaims the excellence of British choral singing and the remarkable quality of contemporary choral music from the Baltic countries. If you think that only indigenous choirs can bring out the best in music from this part of the world, then these magnificent performances, the latest in a Hyperion series, will make you think again … melodies to die for … this is a lovely work that casts its spell immediately. Gough and his forces deliver a spellbinding performance' (International Record Review)

 

Review highlights of Kreek's Notebook UK première - Spitalfields Festival

"An evening of Baltic choral music from the Choir of Royal Holloway and the Britten Sinfonia threatened to strip the peeling paint from the walls of Shoreditch Church, so raw was its emotional delivery. Oxbridge chapel choirs have long had it all their own way, but under the direction of Rupert Gough, Royal Holloway have become a serious rival. Their chief strength is their musicality, balancing the dense, cluster-harmonies of this repertoire with the clarity that is essential if this deceptively simple music is to flower.

A UK premiere - Tõnu Kõrvitz's Kreek's Notebook - offered the choir the chance to shape a larger-scale work, demanding the dynamic range and contract that had been missing earlier. Folk-inspired, the work's unmistakably Slavic melodies translate the region's oppressive history into musicial redemption, and made full use of Royal Holloway's excellend lower voices - both mezzos and basses bringing depth to the palette. That the choir enjoys this repertoire is clear, that they understand its fragile directness is even more so."
(New Statesman, June 2012 - Alexandra Coghlan)

Reviews of the recording Peter Philips

“The Choir of Royal Holloway is a fine one on this showing … the overall sound full and well balanced but not overpowering … A very enjoyable portrait of a composer whose name deserves to be better known.”
(Gramophone, June 2013 - Fabrice Fitch)

Reviews of the recording Endless Border

“The glowingly expressive Som när handen, the brightly rippling Salve regina, and the mellifluous, resonantly multi-part Endless Border [are] particularly impressive... The three dozen voices of the Royal Holloway Choir bring impressive reserves of stamina and concentration to bear on these sometimes difficult pieces.”
(BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 - Terry Blain) *****

“This recording, devoted to the choral works of Bo Hansson, not only pays tribute to the Swedish composer’s melodic choral writing but also to the elegant delivery given by the Choir of Royal Holloway...Gough creates a selection of choral musical delights...each with exquisite treatment of text and perfect performance of sensitive musical nuances...credit must go to Gough’s performance with its shape, at each stage of this piece, crafted flawlessly.”
(International Record Review, Nov 2012 - Debra Shearer-Dirié)

“This marvellous disc devoted to the works of Bo Hansson not only pays tribute to the Swedish composer’s fresh, melodic choral writing but also to the uniformly excellent vocal ensemble at Royal Holloway under their inspirational director, Rupert Gough... Highly recommended”
(Choir and Organ Magazine, May 2012 - Philip Reed) *****

“The composer was present at the recording sessions and I am sure he will have been delighted to find his music so splendidly served. Rupert Gough has clearly schooled his young singers very thoroughly in this unfamiliar music which they put across with conviction and assurance. The choral sound is consistently pleasing... if you like Bo Hansson’s choral music I’d be surprised if you come across it in better performances than these.”
(Music Web International, May 2012 - John Quinn)

Review highlights from the Presteigne Festival 2011

"the finest concert I have ever heard in my long experience of the festival... a simply stunning account of James MacMillan's Seven Last Words from the Cross. The youthful members of the Choir of Royal Holloway sang with unwavering commitment (expertly coached by Rupert Gough). This was a huge triumph for George Vass and the Presteigne Festival itself."
(The Birmingham Post, Sept 2011 - Christopher Morley)

"an example of choral singing at its most elegantly fashioned... stunningly delivered in terms of tonal quality and technical brilliance under Rupert Gough's unobtrusive direction"
(The Birmingham Post, Sept 2011 - David Hart)

"As well as bringing together leading composers and performers from all over the UK, this year's festival celebrated the music of modern Lithuanian composers in performances that were as revelatory as they were enjoyable. No more so than in the splendid concert by the young singers of the Choir of Royal Holloway when the Baltic predilection for complex a cappella vocal music was revealed to ravishing effect."
(The Western Mail, Sept 2011 - John Rushby-Smith)

Reviews of the recording Time is endless

“Under Rupert Gough's care since 2005, the Choir of Royal Holloway College has attained standards of musicianship and technical refinement high above the reach of most student ensembles. The clarity and translucence of Royal Holloway's young voices, expertly trained and thoroughly prepared for this demanding job, ideally suits Miškinis' infinitely subtle art. Gough and his choristers are outstanding in such works as Oi šala, šala, Salve Regina and Dum medium silentium, exquisite in their hypnotic contrasts of sound and folk-like purity."
(Classic FM Magazine, Jan, 2011 – Andrew Stewart) *****

"Rupert Gough has wrought wonders with his Egham choristers... such compelling and committed singing, this benchmark recording has whetted my appetite for much more. Enjoy!"
(Gramophone, Dec, 2010 – Malcolm Riley)

"The Choir of Royal Holloway is really enjoying the acoustics of St. Alban the Martyr, really enjoying the sound of the music. The whole way Royal Holloway have approached this project is magnificent. I think this disc has real integrity and I'm loving listening to it."
(BBC Radio 3 ‘Record Review’, Nov, 2010 - Jeremy Summerly)

"Vytautas Miškinis might be the best thing to happen to choral societies since Morten Lauridsen... The Choir of Royal Holloway sing with excellent intonation and blend."
(International Record Review, Nov, 2010)

Reviews of the recording Hail, Queen of Heaven

"I cannot imagine that the composer can have heard his music better sung than here."
(International Record Review, Jan, 2010 – Ivan Moody)

"Rupert Gough and the excellent Choir of Royal Holloway are terrific advocates for this repertoire. The choristers sound as fluent with and as dedicated to Dubra's music as if they had been singing it all their lives."
(Classical Source, Jan, 2010 – Graham Rogers)

"Royal Holloway's fabulous choristers and their inspired conductor convey the purity and spiritual fervour of Dubra's ear-catching output."
(Classic FM Magazine, Dec, 2009 – Andrew Stewart)

Concert review from Princeton, NJ

"Visiting musical ensembles, especially from overseas, can be a real inspiration to the local organisations. From time to time, these gems drop into the laps of a community, and such was the case last Tuesday night when the Choir of Royal Holloway performed at Princeton University Chapel. The Choir of Royal Holloway is certainly, to the American audiences at least, yet another of the unknown performance treasures from overseas."
(Princeton Town Topics, June, 2009 – Nancy Plum)

Review of première of Revelations of Divine Love

"Of all London's college, or college-plus choirs, that of the Royal Holloway College can justly claim to be one of the most polished and accomplished. This lucid, 28-strong chamber choir is roaring from strength to strength. At its latest concert, in the Cadogan Hall off Sloane Square, the choir instantly unveiled its most admirable credentials."
(The Church Times, May, 2009 – Roderick Dunnett)

Reviews of the recording O Sacrum Convivium

"What more can you possibly ask for? Here is a choir of 23 young singers, fresh of tone and fresh of mind, careful and accurate over their notes yet giving the impression that it all comes naturally. Collectively they have a keen feeling for rhythm. They enunciate clearly but without making a point of it. They blend perfectly, they shade sensitively, they appear to work with a like mind towards an agreed ideal of choral sound."
(Gramophone, May, 2008 – John Steane)

"The mixed choir of Royal Holloway College makes a truly fabulous sound under the assured direction of Rupert Gough. The title track, a setting of the well-known Communion text by Gabriel Jackson, is a serene vehicle for these beautifully pure voices. The soprano line in particular is a blemishless thread. The basses are nimble: few ever manage the "thundering" in Weelkes's Alleluia with such precision. The choir is coolly contemporary in Pärt's Magnificat, romantically heroic in Bruckner's Christus Factus, and breathtakingly expressive in Weelkes's When David Heard."
(The Times (London), March 22, 2008 – Rick Jones)

Concert review of Messiah in Exeter Cathedral

"A Messiah performed to perfection. This was essentially a small scale, light-touch Messiah although with more than enough power to fill the Cathedral's vast spaces. Taken along at a distinctly sprightly pace, the young choristers - about thirty all told - tackled Handel's familiar but oddly tricky score with great accuracy, excellent ensemble and impeccable tuning."
(Music Web International, Dec, 2007 – Bill Kenny)

Latest News

Midweek Music

The choir's term-time weekly concert series has begun again and runs to Wednesday 6th December. Admission is Free to all, and the concerts run 1:15-1:45 in the College Chapel. To find out more about this popular series, see our page for Midweek Music.

Upcoming Events

The Choir will be performing Fauré's Requiem on Thursday 2nd November at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Please see the diary page for more details and to discover more upcoming performances.