Britain's Cambridge Singers, prolific and commercially successful, are among the best-known choral ensembles of the contemporary era.
They were founded by composer John Rutter primarily as a vehicle for recording his music, although the group has also performed other music.
Rutter established the Cambridge Singers in 1981, drawing on the membership of the Clare College Choir at Cambridge University, where he had been the director from 1975 to 1979. He augmented this core with other singers who had been choral scholars at major British universities. Although the Cambridge Singers have given live performances, Rutter intended them as a recording ensemble, and he formed Collegium Records in 1984 as a vehicle for recordings of the group. At the time, small independent labels devoted to choral music were still fairly rare. The debut Cambridge Singers recording, featuring Fauré's Requiem, was a critical success. Also in 1984, Rutter and the Cambridge Singers issued Gloria: The Sacred Music of John Rutter (reissued in 2005), and as Rutter's popularity grew, with choral music at the center of his output, it was the Cambridge Singers who were heard on the recordings that made him internationally famous. The group has spawned several impressive solo vocal careers, including those of tenor Mark Padmore and baritone Gerald Finley.
The Cambridge Singers have recorded various works not by Rutter, both with Rutter and with others as conductor; in 2016 they were heard on a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recording of Gustav Holst's The Planets, conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes. They have even crossed into the pop sphere with appearances on several albums by the electronic ensemble Mannheim Steamroller. The Cambridge Singers have been extremely prolific, often releasing two or three albums per year in the 1990s and 2000s decades. They also released a new recording of Rutter's Requiem, paired with a new work, Visions, in 2016.