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Stephen Layton

Conductor

“... Layton’s performances inspire the soul as they break the heart with their intense beauty ...” 
American Record Guide

Stephen Layton succeeded the late Richard Hickox as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia in September 2010. Founder and Director of Polyphony, Layton is also Music Director of Holst Singers and in 2006 was made a Fellow and Director of Music at Trinity College, Cambridge. His former posts include Chief Guest Conductor of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Kammerkoor and Director of Music at the Temple Church in London.

Layton guest-conducts widely and has works with the Hallé Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Singers, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Latvian Radio and State Choirs, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Queensland Symphony Orchestra. He also collaborates regularly with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia.

Recent highlights in Layton’s diary include performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Ulster Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Haydn’s Creation with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and a Baroque programme, including Vivaldi’s Gloria, with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Layton also made his debut with the SWR Vocal Ensemble, Stuttgart, and the NDR Choir in Hamburg conducting contemporary repertoire and a mixed programme respectively. He also directed a revival of Tavener’s epic Veil of the Temple at the St Olav Festival, Trondheim which was a particular highlight.  Appearances with Polyphony included a return to the ZaterdagMatinee series at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, with the Britten Sinfonia; a return to De Oosterpoort, Groningen, with an a cappella programme; as well as a performance at the Temple Winter Festival, London which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Projects with the City of London Sinfonia included an appearance at the Spitalfields Festival, a Walton programme performed at Cadogan Hall, A Midsummer Night’s Dream themed programme at Southwark Cathedral, and a three concert tour of Mexico. 

This season’s highlights include an appearance with Estonia’s Voces Musicales in a concert celebrating the music of Arvo Pärt in his 80th year, a return to Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestra for performances of Handel’s Messiah, a tour of the Netherlands with the Netherlands Chamber choir with a programme including Anthony Pitts’ Missa Unitatis and a performance of Bach’s Magnificat and Pärt’s Berliner Mass with the Auckland Philharmonia.  Highlights with CLS include a programme celebrating the romanticism of Venice including Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, a programme journeying though England’s Elizabethan age with celebrated baritone Roderick Williams and Duruflé’s Requiem, all at Southwark Cathedral.  Highlights with Polyphony include an Easter tour of Bach’s St John Passion with the OAE to Frankfurt, Paris and London.   He will also take the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge on a tour of Australia. 

Stephen Layton’s eclectic discography encompasses a vast range of repertoire, composers and genres. His Hyperion recording of Britten’s Sacred & Profane received both a Gramophone Award and the Diapason d’Or for best choral disc of the year in 2001, and his Hyperion recording of Tormis’s Songs, with the Holst Singers, received a Spanish CD Award in 2009. In the US, Layton was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2006, 2007 and 2012 for his Hyperion recordings of Cloudburst (Eric Whitacre), Lux Aeterna (Morten Lauridsen) and Beyond all mortal dreams (a collection of American a cappella repertoire) respectively. More recently Layton’s disc, The Nightingale, on OUR Recordings, with Michala Petri and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, was nominated for two 2013 Grammy Awards, and also won a prestigious Echo Klassik award in Germany. In September 2012, Layton received a further Gramophone Award for his Hyperion disc, Howells’s Requiem, with The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge as well as being nominated, in the same choral category, for his Poulenc disc, ‘Half Monk, Half Rascal’ also on OUR Recordings, with the Danish National Vocal Ensemble. Recent releases by Stephen Layton, on the Hyperion label, include a much-anticipated Bach St John Passion recording with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Polyphony, and Handel Chandos Anthems, and Bach Christmas Oratorio, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge. Also with the Choir of Trinity College he has recently released ‘Northern Lights’ a disc of choral music by Eric Esenvalds and with Polyphony a tribute to Arvo Pärt’s 80th Birthday including two premiere recordings. For Deutsche Grammophon, Layton recently recorded Karl Jenkins Motets with Polyphony. The disc was met with unanimous praise and spent several weeks at number one in the UK Specialist Classical Charts.  American Polyphony, his latest release on Hyperion with Polyphony, has met with great praise across the board, reaching No. 1 in the UK Classical Charts and No. 6 in the USA’s Classical Billboard Chart.

“…the effect is nothing short of electrifying..."
- Gramophone Magazine