Harry Christophers

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Conductor Harry Christophers is known internationally as the founder and director of the Sixteen. Earning accolades and awards for recordings with the Sixteen and the Handel and Haydn Society, Christophers has also taken up the baton at opera houses and festivals in Europe. Christophers and the Sixteen established the Coro label in 2001, issuing more than 100 recordings since. Christophers was born on December 26, 1953, in Goudhurst, Kent, England. He was educated at the Canterbury Cathedral Choir School and Magdalen College, Oxford. He founded the Sixteen, and its accompanying instrumental ensemble, in 1977. Christophers' emphasis with the Sixteen is in the performance of early English polyphony, but also in a varied repertoire from the Renaissance to contemporary composers. He has led the Sixteen on tours throughout Europe, America, Australia, and Asia. To perform music for choir and orchestra, Christophers founded the Symphony of Harmony & Invention. In 2000, in celebration of the new millennium, Christophers and the Sixteen embarked on what has become an annual tradition with a "Choral Pilgrimage." Christophers leads his group in performance at cathedrals throughout England, celebrating the 20th anniversary in 2020 with The Call to Rome. Along with his duties with the Sixteen, Christophers has performed as a guest conductor with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, and the St. Louis Symphony. As an operatic conductor, his repertoire includes Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse, Gluck's Orfeo, Handel's Ariodante, and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. In his 2000 debut with the English National Opera, he conducted Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea. He makes regular appearances with the English National Opera and the Lisbon Opera. In 2009, Christophers expanded his workload when he became the artistic director of the Handel and Haydn Society, the oldest continuously performing musical ensemble in the U.S. In that capacity, he oversaw the transformation of a venerable, but conservative, American community organization into a state-of-the-art historical performance group, releasing new recordings of such standard Handel and Haydn repertory as Haydn's The Creation (2013). Christophers' works with the Sixteen have continued at a breakneck pace, with several dozen recordings appearing between 2010 and 2020. In addition to conducting, Christophers generally contributes a short note explaining his attraction to the music and his reasons for wanting to record it. He has generally stuck to his core Baroque and Renaissance repertory but has ventured forward to Mozart and as far as contemporary music. English audiences, especially, have responded to Christophers' direct, personable approach, and his albums have earned heavy airplay on the radio as well as strong sales. The Sixteen's recordings, as well as those of Handel and Haydn Society, have appeared on Coro since the label was established by Christophers and the Sixteen. To celebrate the group's 40th anniversary in 2019, Christophers and the Sixteen released 40, a compilation of recordings from throughout their history. In addition to The Call to Rome, Christophers was also heard leading The Sixteen and the Britten Sinfonia on a recording of music by James MacMillan. His recordings have been awarded Grand Prix du Disque honors, three Deutsche Schallplatten prizes, four Diapason d'Or awards, and the 1992 Gramophone Early Music Award (for the first of the five-volume series Music From the Eton Choirbook). In 2012, Christophers was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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