Looking for something to inspire your local choir or choral society? Our extensive range of choral repertoire includes works for Mixed Choir, Male Voice Choir, Female Voice Choir, Children’s & Youth Choirs, and Senior’s Choir, singing a Capella, with piano accompaniment, and with various other ensembles up to full orchestra.
Choral singing began to take form in the 9th & 10th Centuries, with the unison Gregorian Chant or Plain Chant. From the early Renaissance period, through composers like Palestrina , di Lasso and William Byrd true polyphonic choral music blossomed, and crescendo-ed through to a wonderful climax with Thomas Tallis’ Spem in alium for 40 parts, divided into 8 choirs.
As the form developed through the Renaissance into the Baroque period, composers such as Bach, Telemann and Händel gave the choir more and more autonomy, and through early operas and oratorios, married solo voices, choirs and orchestras together, to create these new musical forms, and inspired audiences with combinations of colours and sounds they had never before experienced.
Although there were many operas and oratorios written in the Classical period, sacred music also took a prominent role in shaping the development of choral music. While the chorus became a very useful tool on stage, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven composed many Masses, Requiems, Te Deums and Anthems to help brighten the world of church music, and uplift the hearts and souls of the congregation.
As opera continued to expand and stretch dramatic boundaries, choral music of the Romantic period was characterised by choral motets and anthems, and the oratorio grew into an even more varied and contrasting form. The oratorios Elijah and Paul are particularly noteworthy, since despite using Sacred themes, through the various musical facets at Mendelssohn’s disposal, they began to take on a much more operatic narrative. This can also be seen in the Requiems of Brahms and Verdi, where the choir itself, along with the orchestra, lead the dramatic storytelling.
Through the 20th Century, composers such as Ralf Vaughan Williams, Anton Webern, Arnold Schönberg, Benjamin Britten and Edward Elgar composed extensively for varying choral forces. Through these composers and many others, we begin to see choirs being tested and stretched, both technically and dramatically, and being pushed out of their comfort zone in order to inspire, shock and entice the audience. Works like Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and Schönberg’s Friede auf Erden made a huge impact on the choral landscape.
In the modern era, new choral genres such as Gospel Choir, Pop Ensembles and Jazz & Swing emerged. Composers like John Rutter, Karl Jenkins, Bob Chilcott and Andrew Lloyd Webber have become very popular.