400-year old work propels The Sixteen to No.1 in the Classic FM Chart

19 April 2015, 19:00

As The Sixteen's annual Choral Pilgrimage takes to the road, maestro Harry Christophers celebrates reaching the top spot with Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610.

Four centuries ago, Claudio Monteverdi composed an extraordinary piece of music which he never heard performed in his lifetime. Today his Vespers of 1610 is the UK's best-selling classical album.

"It's one of the great works of the early Baroque and in fact one of the great choral works of all time," says Harry Christophers, founder and Music Director of The Sixteen, whose recording of the Vespers is this week's new No.1 in the Classic FM Chart

The Vespers was a revolutionary work in its day in which Monteverdi applied his innovative composing style to a religious subject, with stunning success.

"Basically Monteverdi wrote this to be his calling card for the big job," says Christophers, "and he got St. Marks in Venice in the end." 

"It's fabulous," Christophers told Classic FM's John Brunning who broke the news to the conductor of his album's success. "It brings out the best in the choir and the orchestra…It shows just what a versatile group The Sixteen is."

Listen to Harry Christophers talking to John Brunning, here: 


The Sixteen have just commenced their 15th annual Choral Pilgrimage, around the cathedrals of the United Kingdom. This time, they are exploring the wealth of music that came out of Renaissance Spain, in particular from Seville. Two of the most influential composers who spent their lives in the service of Seville Cathedral, were Francisco Guerrero and Alonso Lobo.

"It's really glorious music," Christophers says, "and it's got very much a Spanish flavour to it. For the audience it's completely different music from what we've done for the last two or three years – but it's certainly great music and there's lots of variety within it."

Find out all about The Sixteen's Choral Pilgrimage 2015, here >

Also in his busy schedule, Christophers is finding time to search for choral stars of the future. He's auditioning some 300 singers, aged between 18 and 23, to become the latest intake of Genesis Sixteen, The Sixteen's young artists' scheme which aims to nurture the next generation of talented ensemble singers.

"It's been fantastic," says Christophers, adding that many of the young singers have "phenomenal voices already."

"Something, somewhere's going right."