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Choir photo July 2010 - click to view in a new window
SOUTHERN VOICES concerts are an established part of Winchester’s musical calendar thanks to the choir’s long-standing reputation for performing challenging and original programmes to exceptionally high standards.

The choir was founded in 1984 by two Winchester-based choral singers, Paul Lewis and Anthony Leigh, to provide additional opportunities for local singers to perform a broad-based chamber-choir repertoire. Graham Caldbeck was approached to become the first conductor of the choir and, under his direction, the choir started to build a name for performing an eclectic range of music from across the centuries, including new works by up-and-coming composers and also by Graham himself. Other composers whose work has received world premieres on the Southern Voices stage include John Tavener (Marienhymne), the Hampshire millennium composer Martin Read, and Andrew Simpson, whose Magnificat was commissioned to mark the choir’s 20th anniversary.

Graham was succeeded by Philip Scriven, with Charles Stewart taking up the director’s baton for 10 years from 2002. Katherine Dienes-Williams became Musical Director in January 2012.

Southern Voices prides itself on tackling a wide repertoire of works large and small, introducing both singers and audiences to little-heard pieces by well-known composers and new works by less familiar names. Concerts have become widely acclaimed as inspirational journeys of musical and emotional discovery and strong links have been established with orchestras including Southern Sinfonia. Memorable collaborations include James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross in 2009 and Bach’s St Matthew Passion in 2011, both in Winchester Cathedral.

Other acclaimed chamber performances by the 40 or so voices include Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater, Bach's Mass in B minor and St John Passion, Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus, the Monteverdi Vespers (1610), Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil (Vespers) and Mozart’s Mass in C minor. In recent years the music of contemporary American and British composers including Lauridsen, Whitacre, Chilcott and O’Regan has brought a new dimension to the choir’s programming.

Choir tours have included Florence and the Loire valley. In 2008 Southern Voices released its first professionally-recorded CD: A Winchester Christmas. The singers are fortunate to work with distinguished organists, vocal soloists and instrumentalists and Southern Voices frequently includes young musicians in its performances.

The choir performs in a variety of venues across the region and is committed to undertaking charity performances whenever the increasing cost of staging concerts allows. The choir is proud to be associated with high profile events including the Southern Cathedrals Festival, the Hampshire Singing Competition, the annual Winchester Festival and the Art and Mind Festival (in association with the University of Winchester).

Southern Voices singers are available to perform at private functions including parties and weddings. For further information about this or any other enquiries please drop us a line using our online contact form.