Rundfunkchor Berlin with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Sir Simon Rattle (Erato/Warner)
Grammy Award 'Best Choral Performance', 2008
Rundfunkchor Berlin with Berliner Philharmoniker, cond. Sir Simon Rattle (Erato/Warner)
Grammy Award 'Best Choral Performance', 2007
Simon Halsey occupies a unique position in classical music. He is the trusted advisor on choral singing to the world’s greatest conductors, orchestras and choruses; as an ambassador for choral singing to amateurs of every age, ability and background he has led ground-breaking massed choral events, notably for New York’s Lincoln Center.
Making singing a central part of the world-class institutions with which he is associated, he has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe. He holds positions across the UK and Europe as Chorus Director of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Principal Guest Conductor and Choral Ambassador of Orfeó Català, Principal Guest Conductor at WDR Rundfunkchor, Conductor Laureate of Rundfunkchor Berlin, Choral Director Emeritus of London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and Professor and Director of Choral Activities at University of Birmingham. His work is the subject of the documentary film Unsere Herzen – Ein Klang (Our Hearts – One Sound), which was released to cinemas in September 2022.
He is also a highly respected teacher and academic, nurturing the next generation of choral conductors on his post-graduate course in Birmingham and through masterclasses in Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA. He holds four honorary doctorates from universities in the UK, and in 2011 Schott Music published his book and DVD on choral conducting, Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert.
Halsey’s numerous awards include three Grammys for his recordings with the Rundfunkchor Berlin. He was made Commander of the British Empire in 2015, was awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music in 2014, and received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany.
Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King’s College, Cambridge and studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1987, he founded with Graham Vick the Birmingham Opera Company. He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997 to 2008 and Principal Conductor of the Northern Sinfonia’s Choral Programme from 2004 to 2012. From 2001-2015 he led the Rundfunkchor Berlin (of which he is now Conductor Laureate); under his leadership the chorus gained a reputation internationally as one of the finest professional choral ensembles. Halsey also initiated innovative projects in unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats.
Sir Simon Rattle
Jonathan Dove’s new children opera with London Symphony, Berliner Philharmoniker and Aix-en-Provence Opera Festival
Mahler Symphony No.2 with CBSO Chorus, London Symphony Chorus with Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle at Royal Festival Hall London
Human Requiem at Radialsystem Berlin
Bach St Matthew Passion tour to BBC Proms and New York White Light Festival with Rundfunkchor Berlin, Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle
Commemoration to mark First World War Centenary at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery (Belgium) with combined chorus from London Symphony & Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival
Artistic Director and Conductor of David Lang’s Crowd Out in Birmingham, London, Berlin
The New York Times
[The Rundfunkchor Berlin], founded in 1925, had shown extraordinary personal commitment and textual nuance in Peter Sellars's heart-wrenching ritualization of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Park Avenue Armory. Here, under the direction of its principal conductor, Simon Halsey, the choir showed off a different sound - homogeneous, silky and delicately shaded.
London Evening Standard
Since Simon Halsey took over last year [the London Symphony Chorus] has undergone a spectacular transformation. Singing out unencumbered by scores, with crackling consonants and commitment to match, the choir brought a disciplined exhilaration to the party.
Simon Halsey was at the helm – and what a sympathetic, empowering conductor he has become – drawing from the CBSO playing of luminous subtlety and refinement.