Mitsingkonzert in der Philharmonie
“Die Schöpfung” ("The Creation") - Oratorio for soli, choir and orchestra Hob XXI:2
Simon Halsey - Conductor
Simon Halsey was Principal Conductor of Rundfunkchor Berlin from 2001 to 2015. As of 2015/16 season he passed on the baton to the young Dutch conductor Gijs Leenaars. He was awarded Conductor Laureate as part of his official farewell and will furthermore retain his ties to the ensemble as regular guest conductor. His enthusiasm, wit, perfectionism and passionate pedagogical dedication have made him one of the most sought-after choral conductors
in the world.
Born in London in 1958, Halsey was appointed director of music at the University of Warwick when he was only 22. In 1982, Sir Simon Rattle engaged him as director of the CBSO Chorus, a position that he holds until today. Under the auspices of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, he initiated an exemplary youth choral programme with three further choirs. Between 1997 and 2008 he was engaged as guest conductor then principal conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chorus in Hilversum. From 2004 to 2012 he also directed the Northern Sinfonia Chorus and the choral programme at the Sage in Gateshead.
He took up two new directorships in 2012: the London Symphony Chorus and the BBC Proms Youth Chorus. In 2012 he was also appointed artistic director of the new youth choral programme »Vokalhelden« of the Berliner Philharmoniker. With the 2016/17 season he assumed his post as the new artistic director of the chorus Orféo Català and artistic advisor at the Palau de la Música Catalana Barcelona. For his preparation of Rundfunkchor Berlin in Brahms’s »Ein deutsches Requiem« and Stravinsky’s »Symphony of Psalms« for the CD recordings with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as Kaija Saariaho’s »L’Amour de loin« for the CD recording with Kent Nagano conducting the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Halsey won the Grammy Award in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Besides his work as a conductor and choral trainer, Halsey is also in demand as a pedagogue. In 2012 the recipient of three honorary doctorates took up his post as professor at the University of Birmingham. With Rundfunkchor Berlin he established the Berlin International Masterclass.
His teaching activities also include numerous guest lectureships – thereunder at Princeton and Yale. In 2011 his book on choral conducting »Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert« was issued in the Schott series »Master Class«.
For his outstanding contributions to choral music in Germany, Simon Halsey was awarded the »Bundesverdienstkreuz« (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) in 2011. In 2015 he was presented by the Queen with »Her Majesty’s Medal for Music« and appointed »Commander of the Order of the British Empire« (CBE). In 2016 he received the »Geschwister-Mendelssohn-Medaille« of the Berlin Choral Association, with a laudatory speech by Berlin’s former State Secretary of Culture Tim Renner.
Carolyn Sampson - Soprano
Equally at home on the concert and opera stages, Carolyn Sampson has enjoyed notable successes in the UK as well as throughout Europe and the US.
On the opera stage her roles have included the title role in Semele and Pamina in The Magic Flute for English National Opera, various roles in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen for Glyndebourne Festival Opera (released on DVD) and both Anne Truelove The Rake’s Progress and Mélisande Pelléas et Mélisande in Sir David McVicar’s productions for Scottish Opera. Internationally she has appeared at Opéra de Paris, Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Montpellier and Opéra National du Rhin. She also sang the title role in Lully’s Psyché for the Boston Early Music Festival, which was released on CD and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy.
Carolyn’s numerous concert engagements in the UK have included regular appearances at the BBC Proms, and with orchestras including Britten Sinfonia, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, English Concert, Hallé, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, The Sixteen, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
In Europe her many appearances have included concerts with Bergen Philharmonic, Freiburger Barockorchester, Gürzenich Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, and WDR Symphony Orchestra.
In the US Carolyn has featured as soloist with the Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, and San Francisco Symphonies, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, and is a regular guest at the Mostly Mozart Festival. Most recently she performed and recorded Mahler Symphony No. 4 with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra. In October 2013 she made her Carnegie Hall recital debut to a sold-out audience in the Weill Recital Hall, and has given recitals at the Lincoln Center, New York, and San Francisco Performances.
Carolyn works with conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Harry Bicket, Ivor Bolton, Riccardo Chailly, Harry Christophers, Philippe Herreweghe, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Louis Langrée, Trevor Pinnock, and Donald Runnicles.
A consummate recitalist, Carolyn Sampson appears regularly at the Wigmore Hall where she was a “featured artist” in the 14/15 season. She has given recitals at the Oxford and Leeds Lieder, Saintes and Aldeburgh Festivals as well as at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Barcelona, Freiburg, Oper Frankfurt, Vienna Konzerthaus, and recently her debut recital tour of Japan.
Carolyn has developed a partnership with the pianist Joseph Middleton over recent years. Her debut song recital disc with Joseph, ‘Fleurs’, was released early in 2015 featuring songs by composers from Purcell to Britten, and was nominated in the solo vocal category of the Gramophone Awards. Since then they have gone on to release ‘A Verlaine Songbook’ exploring settings of the poetry of Paul Verlaine, ‘Lost is my Quiet’ – a duet disc with the countertenor Iestyn Davies, ‘A Soprano’s Schubertiade’, ‘Reason in Madness’ and most recently ‘The Contrast – English Poetry in Song’, all for the BIS label.Alongside her longstanding relationship with the BIS label she has released multi award-winning discs for Decca, Harmonia Mundi, and Hyperion, receiving accolades including the Choc de l’Année Classica, Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice, BBC Music Magazine’s “Record of the Month”, an ECHO Award, and a Diapason D’or. Her recording with Ex Cathedra for Hyperion, ‘A French Baroque Diva’ won the recital award in the 2015 Gramophone Awards. Carolyn was also nominated for Artist of the Year in the 2017 Gramophone Awards, and her recording of Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Exsultate Jubilate with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan won the Choral Award.
Recent and future highlights include tours with Freiburger Barockorchester, Bach Collegium Japan, concerts with the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia, and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and at the Salzberger Festpiele. Recital highlights include those at Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, de Singel, Antwerp and Pierre Boulez Saal Berlin.
Benjamin Hulett - Tenor
Benjamin Hulett studied at New College, Oxford and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Highlights in his 2022/23 season include Kudrjas Kát’a Kabanova for the Opera de Lyon, Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten with the Academy of Ancient Music/Laurence Cummings and the Philharmonie Zuidnederland/Duncan Ward, Mozart’s Davide Penitente with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ivan Repušić and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/John Wilson.
He has sung for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Hamburgische Staatsoper; Bayerische Staatsoper; Deutsche Staatsoper; Theater an der Wien; Opera de Lille and the Teatro Real in Madrid; at the BBC Proms and for the Glyndebourne, Salzburg, Edinburgh and Baden-Baden Festivals.
In concert his appearances include the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestras under Dutoit; the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Nagano; Salzburg Mozartwoche under Bolton and the Berliner Philharmoniker under Rattle, Norrington, Haïm, Pinnock, Hogwood and Jurowski. His recital appearances include London’s Wigmore Hall and the Aldeburgh, Buxton, Oxford Lieder and Leeds Lieder Festivals and his many recordings have received nominations and awards from the BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, the Grammys, L’Orfée d’Or and Diapason.
William Thomas - Basso
A recent graduate of the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, British bass William Thomas is fast making a name for himself as one of today’s most promising young singers. He is a member of the Harewood Artists programme at English National Opera and a BBC New Generation Artist 2021-2023.
As a Jerwood Young Artist, he sang the role of Nicholas in the British premiere of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa at the Glyndebourne Festival, he has sung Shepherd Pelléas et Mélisande for Garsington Opera and he made his debut at the Vienna State Opera as Snug in a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other recent engagements have included Zweiter Priester/Zweiter Geharnischter Die Zauberflöte for Glyndebourne and Colline La bohème at Alexandra Palace for the English National Opera.
Upcoming engagements include Priest/Badger/Harašta in concert performances of The Cunning Little Vixen with the CBSO/Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; Parsi Rustomji Satyagraha, Sciarrone Tosca and Colline La bohème for the English National Opera and his debut for the Opéra national de Paris as Gralsritter Parsifal. He will also return to Glyndebourne and make debuts with the Opéra de Rouen Normandie and Teatro alla Scala, Milan.
Concert engagements have included Mozart’s Requiem at the BBC Proms with the Britten Sinfonia/David Bates; Bach’s Johannes-Passion with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique/Sir John Eliot Gardiner; Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestra of the English National Opera/Laurence Cummings; Bartok’s Cantata Profana with the London Symphony Orchestra/François-Xavier Roth and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Orchestre national de Lyon/Alan Gilbert.
He is winner of a number of major prizes, which include the Kathleen Ferrier Award and John Christie Award in 2018, and the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in 2019.