National Portrait Gallery plays host to the first choir in residence programme in the UK

By Emily Beeson | 16 May 2013

News: National Portrait Gallery creates first choir in residence in a gallery in Britain, National portrait Gallery, London

A photo of a male conductor conducting an orchestra
Artistic Director Gregory Batsleer will lead The Portrait Choir at the National Portrait Gallery© Eoin Carey
A chamber choir of up to twenty-two members will be joining the National Portriat Gallery's portraits to form the first choir in residence programme at any UK gallery or museum.

Mentored by four professional singers and led by expert Artistic Director and current Chorus Master with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Gregory Batsleer, The Portrait Choir will be in residence more than five times a year, performing pieces from varied points in musical history, which relate to portrait themes and the gallery’s exhibitions programme.

The choir will give its opening performance on Friday 28 June as part of the Gallery’s popular Late Shift programme, followed by two daytime concerts on Saturday 29 June.

These free performances will include music intended to capture the spirit of the Gallery’s portraits of famed composers and performers, such as Elgar and Thomas Adès. The concerts will also include a newly commissioned work composed by Ben Parry.

The Portrait Choir will be at the centre of a new three-year choral initiative, which Batsleer has described as an exciting new venture for choral music in the UK. He said, ‘the programme aims to provide our visitors with new ways of appreciating portraiture and music and our hope is that it becomes an integral part of the National Portrait Gallery’s work.’

Supported by Hani Farsi and The Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation, the Choir will commission and perform one new work each year.

Additional plans have been laid for projects and events outside the gallery during the Choir’s three years of residency, including two opera performances.

Though choral performances will form the basis of the singing group’s role at the gallery, the Choir will also be inviting the public to take part in musical events and various other collaborative, community projects.

The Choir is comprised of recent graduates and students of Britain’s most prestigious music conservatoires and aims to provide an exciting, contextual link to artistic representations of some of Britain’s greatest composers.

Open daily10am –6pm (Thursday and Friday until 9pm) Admission free.
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