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Stephen Cleobury Biography

Stephen Cleobury

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Living in: England

Stephen Cleobury has been Organist and Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge since 1982, and, since 1983, conductor of the orchestra and chorus of the Cambridge University Musical Society. He received his early musical education at Worcester Cathedral, and was later Organ Student at St John's College, Cambridge, under George Guest. Before going to King's he was successively Organist at St Matthew's, Northampton, Sub-Organist at Westminster Abbey and Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral.

Under his direction King's College Choir Cambridge continues the daily singing of chapel services during term time - the raison d'etre of the choir - and maintains a busy schedule of concerts, tours, recordings and broadcasts. It is, perhaps, most famous for the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols which is heard each Christmas Eve throughout the English-speaking world and beyond. Recent appearances include concerts in Bermuda, New York, Washington, Cologne and Paris.

During his time the choir has recorded a wide range of music for Decca and EMI, ranging from Byrd and Palestrina through Handel and Mozart, Rossini and Berlioz, to Kodaly, Britten and Maxwell Davies. In many of these recordings, as in their concert appearances, the choir has performed with leading soloists and orchestras, among them Lucia Popp, Brigitte Fassbaender, Robert Tear, Thomas Allen, and Olaf Bar: the English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Hanover Band and the Brandenburg Consort. With this last the choir has recorded Handel's Messiah, Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and Handel's Israel in Egypt.

As well as being dedicated to an approach to earlier music which is stylistically aware, Stephen Cleobury has commissioned many works for the choir from important contemporary composers. Among these have been Richard Rodney Bennett, Diana Burrell, John Casken, Peter Maxwell Davies, Stephen Dodgson, Alexander Goehr, Nicholas Maw, Arvo Part, John Rutter, Peter Sculthorpe, John Tavener, Judith Weir, Judith Bingham and James Macmillan.

In his work with Cambridge University Musical Society, Stephen also combines presentation of new works with the standard repertoire. In 1991/92 the chorus premiered Robin Holloway's Hymn to the Senses, a work Stephen subsequently recorded for broadcast with the BBC Singers. In the following season CUMS undertook the first Cambridge performance and a recording of Alexander Goehr's The Death of Moses. Its most ambitious recent projects have been Mahler's Eighth Symphony and Britten's War Requiem given with the Bach Choir in Ely Cathedral, and in the Royal Albert Hall, London. Robert Saxton's Canticum Luminis, a CUMS commission, was premiered in March 1994.

In addition to his work in Cambridge, Stephen is active as a conductor and organist both in the UK and abroad, frequently visiting North America, Australia and Europe in these roles. He is a frequent broadcaster for the BBC and has appeared at the Proms as an organ soloist and as director of the King's College Choir Cambridge. In November 1995 he was officially appointed Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers.lian Chamber Orchestra in 2001, Layton's Mozart Requiem at the Sydney Opera House was described as a performance 'to die for' (Sydney Morning Herald).

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Boys of King's College, Cambridge

Choir of King's College, Cambridge