The Sixteen launches online ‘A Choral Odyssey’ series: ‘Music can bring us together and uplift us’

15 October 2020, 12:00 | Updated: 15 October 2020, 12:41

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen announce ‘A Choral Odyssey’ online series
Harry Christophers and The Sixteen announce ‘A Choral Odyssey’ online series. Picture: The Sixteen / Firedog

By Rosie Pentreath

If you’re anything like us, you’ll be missing the transcendent experience of listening to live choral music. The Sixteen’s online ‘Choral Odyssey’ is the answer to that...

There’s nothing quite like being in a broad, cavernous space, surrounded by the wonderful sounds and colours of a live chorus or orchestra of musicians.

The wonderful timbres of choral music have been missed of late, as live music continues to be hampered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and measures taken to protect us all from COVID-19.

But, luckily for us, many ensembles and musical greats are taking their art online. And the Voices of Classic FM, The Sixteen, are no exception.

With their conductor, Harry Christophers, and actor Sir Simon Russell Beale, the choir has announced A Choral Odyssey, a series of five programmes featuring wonderful music broadcast from stunning venues around the UK – presented online.

Read more: What online or live concerts are taking place near me? >

Watch The Sixteen’s ‘A Choral Odyssey’ online
Watch The Sixteen’s ‘A Choral Odyssey’ online. Picture: Tonwen Jones / Tilly (aka runningforcrayons)

“In these strange and daunting times, music can bring us together, comfort us and uplift us,” conductor Harry Christophers says.

“We have all learnt a lot during this pandemic but one thing is for certain – music is speaking to us in an even more powerful way,” he tells Classic FM. “The Sixteen and I are so looking forward to sharing our music with you in beautiful venues once again.”

A Choral Odyssey is a series of five online programmes – plus an extra Christmas instalment in the planning – which bring the most sumptuous choral music into beautiful architecture. Presented by actor Simon Russell Beale, each episode will take an in-depth look at a wide-ranging selection of choral music in unique locations that are relevant to the repertoire.

Harry Christophers: ‘In these strange and daunting times, music can bring us together, comfort us and uplift us’
Harry Christophers: ‘In these strange and daunting times, music can bring us together, comfort us and uplift us’. Picture: The Sixteen / Firedog

Locations will include the stunning Hatfield House in Hertfordshire; the 15th-century Magdalen College in Oxford; Our Lady of the Assumption & Saint Gregory Roman Catholic Church in London; the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe; and Kent’s historic Penshurst Place.

Repertoire will include choral works by Sheppard, Pärt, Walton, Cecilia McDowall, and masters of the Renaissance such as Palestrina and Byrd.

There is also a bonus Christmas episode planned, taking place at London’s Cadogan Hall.

“What a joy it is to be back doing what The Sixteen do best: making music,” Christophers says. “In these extraordinary times, we have had to be even more creative than usual, but it is essential that we do not lose sight of our identity. We have missed singing together and being together in person and that is why we are so excited to be performing this glorious music in these stunning locations.”

Simon Russell Beale adds: “I am delighted to be joining up again with The Sixteen – a group that I have admired for many, many years. It’s a fascinating project for me, not least because I will be able to enjoy the company of Harry Christophers - the best possible guide to this wonderful repertoire of choral music.”

Full list of A Choral Odyssey programmes

Episode 1: Magdalen College, Oxford – 18 November

Davy: O Domine caeli terraeque creator
Davy: Joan is sick and ill at ease
Sheppard: Libera nos

Episode 2: Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory Church, London – 25 November

Guerrero: Maria Magdalene
Guerrero: Credo from Missa de la batalla escoutez
Guerrero: Ave virgo sanctissima
Guerrero: Lauda Mater ecclesia

Episode 3: The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe London – 2 December

True Englishmen drink (catch)
Ode: Sound the trumpet! Beat the drum! (James II 1687)
Now, now the fight’s done (from Theodosius)

Episode 4: Hatfield House, Hertfordshire – 9 December

Byrd: Tribue, Domine
Pärt: Nunc Dimittis
Pärt: The Deer’s Cry

Episode 5: Penshurst Place, Kent – 16 December

Anon: Make we joy now in this fest Anon Angelus ad virginem
Anon: Nowell, nowell in Bethlehem Anon Salutation carol
Anon: Sweet was the song
King Henry VIII: Green grow’th the holly
Walton: Make we joy now in this fest
McDowall: Now may we singen
McDowall: Of a Rose

Episode 6: Cadogan Hall, London – 23 December

The series will conclude with the as-live stream of The Sixteen’s ‘Christmas at Cadogan’ concert.

How to watch The Sixteen’s Choral Odyssey series online

The Sixteen’s A Choral Odyssey is streaming online at thesixteen.com/a-choral-odyssey and tickets are available from the same website.

Once you have bought your ticket – tickets are available for each episode separately, or for the whole series – the programmes will be available to view on the same website you bought your ticket from (on the dates listed above).

To watch, log in using the account details you will have created purchasing the ticket, or previously, and click on the programme you want to watch.

Episodes will be released every Wednesday, all available to watch on demand until 31 January 2021.

If you are having issues logging in, making payment, or have not received your receipt, please visit support.inplayer.com. There, The Sixteen’s video partners will be on-hand to provide you with assistance.

The Sixteen’s A Choral Odyssey is streaming online from Wednesday 18 November to Wednesday 23 December. Visit thesixteen.com/a-choral-odyssey to find out more, book tickets and watch.