Best known as founder of the London choir that bore his name, John Alldis was one of England's most prominent and peripatetic choral directors, working with a number of ensembles in music ranging from the Renaissance to the contemporary.
In 1967, for example, Alldis prepared his choir for the first European performance of Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles, conducted overall by Pierre Boulez. Alldis studied at King's College, Cambridge, from 1949 to 1952, working as a choral scholar under Boris Ord. He later obtained a master's degree there in 1957. In 1962, he founded the professional, 16-member John Alldis Choir, which launched itself with the world premiere of Alexander Goehr's A Little Cantata of Proverbs. Contemporary music would continue to figure importantly in Alldis' repertory. Alldis quickly became so highly regarded as a choral conductor that in 1966, the London Symphony Orchestra hired him to form and direct its first standing choral group. Alldis switched to the London Philharmonic Chorus in 1969, with which he remained until 1982. Meanwhile, the John Alldis Choir participated in several studio recordings of opera for such major labels as Decca and RCA. During this period, Alldis also taught at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1966-1979), served as joint chief conductor of Radio Denmark (mainly leading its Danish State Radio Chorus, 1971-1977), and conducted the Groupe Vocal de France (1979-1983). After a relatively fallow period through much of the 1980s, Alldis was a music consultant to the Israel Chamber Choir from 1989 to 1991; Israel's notoriously tough music critics gave him mixed notices. He was more highly regarded in England, where in 1992 he became chorus master of Manchester's Hallé Choir (although, oddly, he was dropped from the 2001 edition of the nationalistic New Grove) and in France, where in 1994 he was named a chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In the mid-'90s he guest-conducted the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus and the Central Philharmonic Society of China in Beijing.