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Simon Halsey, conductor

  • Choral Director, London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
  • Chorus Director, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
  • Choruses Artistic Director, Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser, Palau de la Música, Barcelona.
  • Artistic Director, Berliner Philharmoniker Youth Choral Programme.
  • Conductor, BBC Proms Youth Choir.
  • Artistic Advisor, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Choir.
  • Conductor Laureate, Rundfunkchor Berlin.
  • Professor and Director of Choral Activities, University of Birmingham.

Simon Halsey holds positions across the UK and Europe as Choral Director of London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Chorus Director of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Artistic Director of Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser of Palau de la Música, Barcelona, Artistic Director of Berliner Philharmoniker Youth Choral Programme, Director of BBC Proms Youth Choir; Artistic Advisor of Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Choir, Conductor Laureate of Rundfunkchor Berlin and Professor and Director of Choral Activities at University of Birmingham.

Simon Halsey occupies a unique position in classical music.  He is the trusted advisor on choral singing to the world’s greatest conductors, orchestras and choruses, and also an inspirational teacher and ambassador for choral singing to amateurs of every age, ability and background.  Making singing a central part of the world-class institutions with which he is associated, he has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe. 

He is also a highly respected teacher and academic, nurturing the next generation of choral conductors on his post-graduate course in Birmingham and through masterclasses at Princeton, Yale and elsewhere. He holds four honorary doctorates from universities in the UK, and in 2011 Schott Music published his book and DVD on choral conducting, Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert.

Halsey has worked on nearly 80 recording projects, many of which have won major awards, including the Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, Echo Klassik, and three Grammy Awards with the Rundfunkchor Berlin.  He was made Commander of the British Empire in 2015, was awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music in 2014, and received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany.

This is the third season of Halsey’s positions with the Orfeó Català Choirs, where he has been credited as having ‘breathed new energies into the Orfeó Català”.  Highlights of the Choirs’ 2018/19 season include a tour to the Shanghai Festival; a Philip Glass residency; Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky cantata with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev; and Mahler 3 with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and Jonathan Nott. Halsey will himself conduct the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Rundfunk Chor and the Orfeó Català choirs in Verdi’s Requiem, as well as several a capella concerts.

Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King’s College, Cambridge. and studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1987, he founded with Graham Vick the City of Birmingham Touring Opera. He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997 to 2008 and Principal Conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Choral Programme from 2004 to 2012. From 2001-2015 he led the Rundfunkchor Berlin (of which he is now Conductor Laureate); under his leadership the chorus gained a reputation internationally as one of the finest professional choral ensembles. Halsey also initiated innovative projects in unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats.