The Sixteen prove they can count

Harry Christophers Marco Borggreve

Harry Christophers CBE, Conductor and Founder of The Sixteen divulged insights ahead of his pre-concert conversation into his Birmingham connections, informs us he can count – they aren’t named The Sixteen for nothing – and what to look out for in their upcoming performance.

How long have you been a part of The Sixteen and what makes the choir special?

Right from the very first day - well even before when it was a mere embryo. I formed the group in 1979 - it’s as special now as it was then. This is a group of singers that love performing, they give of themselves and they enjoy each other’s company and above all they support each other. 

So Birmingham is a very special city for me

What does it mean to be performing at Symphony Hall Birmingham?

Well I’m married to a born and bred Brummie. Her dad ran the music at the Oratory for many years - great days. We got married in the Oratory - full nuptial mass lasting well over an hour. So Birmingham is a very special city for me.

Why are you called The Sixteen when there are 18 singers?

Never been asked that question before! When I formed The Sixteen back in 1979 there were 16 singers and we performed principally 16th century music. Simple as that. Today the group can be any number of singers and in its full form it has a period orchestra as well. 

I’m also a sucker for traditional carols, unadulterated by fussy arrangements

What is special about the repertoire for this performance – do you have a favourite piece?

There is something for everybody - well known carols sung sublimely to some little known repertoire set alongside well known composers such as Palestrina, Poulenc, Howells and Rutter. Poulenc’s sound world is so unmistakably Parisian and I simply adore his setting of Videntes stellam. Gorgeous harmonies and glorious colours. But I’m also a sucker for traditional carols, unadulterated by fussy arrangements so to hear the choir sing simply but effectively the Somerset Carol will be an absolute joy. 

If you’re still yet to buy tickets for this glorious Christmas concert click here.

To hear more from Harry Christophers CBE don’t forget there is a pre-concert conversation at 6:15pm. This conversation will be signed by a British Sign Language Interpreter.