THE TALLIS SCHOLARS
& director: PETER PHILLIPS
|© Eric Richmond||© Eric Richmond|
‘‘Anyone familiar with Renaissance music knows that this group has attained superstardom among its ilk’
The Tallis Scholars perform in both sacred and secular venues, usually giving around 70 concerts each year across the globe. In 2013 the group celebrated their 40th anniversary with a World Tour performing 99 events in 80 venues in 16 countries and travelling sufficient air-miles to circumnavigate the globe four times. They kicked off the year with a spectacular concert in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, including a performance of Thomas Tallis’ 40-part motet Spem in alium and the world premieres of works written specially for them by Gabriel Jackson and Eric Whitacre. Their new recording of the Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas by the 16th Century Tudor composer, John Taverner, was released on the exact anniversary of their first concert in 1973 and enjoyed six weeks at number one in the UK Specialist Classical Album Chart.
The Tallis Scholars' career highlights have included a tour of China in 1999, including two concerts in Beijing; and the privilege of performing in the Sistine Chapel in April 1994 to mark the final stage of the complete restoration of the Michelangelo frescoes, broadcast on Italian and Japanese television. The ensemble have commissioned many contemporary composers during their history: in 1998 they celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a special concert in London's National Gallery, premiering a Sir John Tavener work written for the group and narrated by Sting. A further performance was given with Sir Paul McCartney in New York in 2000. The Tallis Scholars are broadcast regularly on radio (including performances from the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013) and have also been featured on the acclaimed ITV programme The Southbank Show.
Much of The Tallis Scholars reputation for their pioneering work has come from their association with Gimell Records, set up by Peter Phillips and Steve Smith in 1980 solely to record the group. In February 1994 Peter Phillips and The Tallis Scholars performed on the 400th anniversary of the death of Palestrina in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, where Palestrina had trained as a choirboy and later worked as Maestro di Cappella. The concerts were recorded by Gimell and are available on both CD and DVD.
Recordings by The Tallis Scholars have attracted many awards throughout the world. In 1987 their recording of Josquin's Missa La sol fa re mi and Missa Pange lingua received Gramophone magazine’s Record of the Year award, the first recording of early music ever to win this coveted award. In 1989 the French magazine Diapason gave two of its Diapason d'Or de l'Année awards for the recordings of a mass and motets by Lassus and for Josquin's two masses based on the chanson L'Homme armé. Their recording of Palestrina's Missa Assumpta est Maria and Missa Sicut lilium was awarded Gramophone's Early Music Award in 1991; they received the 1994 Early Music Award for their recording of music by Cipriano de Rore; and the same distinction again in 2005 for their disc of music by John Browne. The Tallis Scholars were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001, 2009 and 2010. In November 2012 their recording of Josquin's Missa De beata virgine and Missa Ave maris stella received a Diapason d’Or de l’Année and in their 40th anniversary year they were welcomed into the Gramophone ‘Hall of Fame’ by public vote.
These accolades & achievements are continuing evidence of the exceptionally high standard maintained by The Tallis Scholars, and of their dedication to one of the great repertoires in Western classical music. For the latest opportunities to hear The Tallis Scholars in concert, or for more information on how to purchase CDs, Downloads or DVDs of the group, please visit their website.
Peter Phillips has made an impressive if unusual reputation for himself in dedicating his life’s work to the research and performance of Renaissance polyphony. Having won a scholarship to Oxford in 1972, Peter Phillips studied Renaissance music with David Wulstan and Denis Arnold, and gained experience in conducting small vocal ensembles, already experimenting with the rarer parts of the repertoire. He founded the Tallis Scholars in 1973, with whom he has now appeared in over 1900 concerts and made over 50 discs, encouraging interest in polyphony all over the world. As a result of his work, through concerts, recordings, magazine awards and publishing editions of the music and writing articles, Renaissance music has come to be accepted for the first time as part of the mainstream classical repertoire. The Tallis Scholars celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2013 with 99 concerts, worldwide.
Apart from the Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips continues to work with other specialist ensembles. He has appeared with the BBC Singers, the Collegium Vocale of Ghent and the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and is currently working with the Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Intrada of Moscow, Musica Reservata of Barcelona and El Leon de Oro of Orviedo. He gives numerous master-classes and choral workshops every year around the world – amongst other places in Rimini (Italy), Evora (Portugal) and Barcelona (Spain) – and is also Artistic Director of the Tallis Scholars Summer Schools: annual choral courses based in Uppingham (UK), Seattle (USA) and Sydney (Australia) dedicated to exploring the heritage of renaissance choral music, and developing a performance style appropriate to it as pioneered by The Tallis Scholars. In 2014 he launched the London International A Cappella Choir Competition in St John's Smith Square, attracting choirs from all over the world.
In addition to conducting, Peter Phillips is well-known as a writer. For 31 years he has contributed a regular music column (as well as one, more briefly, on cricket) to The Spectator. In 1995 he became the owner and Publisher of The Musical Times, the oldest continuously published music journal in the world. His first book, English Sacred Music 1549–1649, was published by Gimell in 1991, while his second, What We Really Do, an unblinking account of what touring is like, alongside insights about the make-up and performance of polyphony, was published in 2003 and again in 2013.
Peter Phillips has made numerous television and radio broadcasts. Besides those featuring The Tallis Scholars (which include live broadcasts from the 1988, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013 Proms), he has appeared several times on the BBC’s Music Weekly and on the BBC World Service, on Kaleidoscope (BBC Radio 4), on Today (BBC Radio 4), National Public Radio in the US and on German, French, Italian, Spanish and Canadian radio, where he has enjoyed deploying his love of languages. In 1990 ITV’s The South Bank Show featured Peter’s ‘personal odyssey’ with the Tallis Scholars; while in 2002 a special television documentary was made for the BBC about the life and times of William Byrd.
Peter has recently been appointed a Reed Rubin Director of Music and Bodley Fellow at Merton College, Oxford, where the new choral foundation he helped to establish began singing services in October 2008. They gave their first live broadcast on BBC Radio Three’s Choral Evensong in October 2011. In 2005 Peter Phillips was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, a decoration intended to honour individuals who have contributed to the understanding of French culture in the world.