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The Sixteen Biography

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The Sixteen In-depth Biography

Harry Christophers} (born 1953) founded the choral ensemble named The Sixteen} in 1977. The director's vision from the outset foresaw the musical repertories for which they would be best-known: early English polyphony, other repertories of the European Renaissance}, as well as choral works of the twentieth century. Even the choice of naming the ensemble not after a particular composer, style, or period served this goal of musical flexibility. With over 70 acclaimed recordings in their first two decades and a touring schedule that has brought the group to "churches from Finland to Sicily," opera} houses from London to Sydney, and festivals from Salzburg to Tokyo, The Sixteen} has established itself as one of the most versatile and polished choirs of the turn of the century. The 1992 recording The Rose and the Ostrich Feather: Music From the Eton Choirbook, Vol. I} earned the group a Grammy award for Early Music; other recordings have been awarded numerous Grand Prix du Disque, Deutsche Schallplatten, and Diapason d'Or prizes. In 1991, the group gave the world premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle}'s opera} Gawain} in Covent Garden}; in 1998 a Lisbon Opera} debut of Claudio Monteverdi}'s Il ritorno d'Ulisse} in Patria; the year 2000 saw a "Pilgrimage" tour of English cathedrals. The Sixteen} sings with an "Oxbridge" purity of intonation} (Christophers} himself began his musical career as head chorister at Canterbury Cathedral) combined with a passionate yet controlled dynamic range. The groups tonal} virtuosity embraces the directness of Tudor and Elizabethan choirboy singing (despite the mature combination of female sopranos and male altos), yet expands to a more romantic fullness for Spanish and Portugese Renaissance} music or for Benjamin Britten} and Samuel Barber}. The ensemble added an orchestral component (first called the Orchestra of the Sixteen} and later the Symphony of Harmony and Invention}) to expand its repertory into Baroque}; the two groups collaborated on a series of operas} of Monteverdi}, operas} of Purcell}, several oratorios} of Handel}, and major works of J.S. Bach}. ~ Timothy Dickey, All Music Guide

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