© João Messias
 © Ditte Capion
© Ditte Capion

Paul Hillier Conductor General Management

The founding director of the Hilliard Ensemble and Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier is regarded as one of the most versatile artists. His career has embraced singing, conducting, composing, and writing about music.

He was Principal Conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (2001-2007) and has been Chief Conductor of Ars Nova Copenhagen since 2003. In 2008 he became Chief Conductor of Chamber Choir Ireland and was appointed artistic director of the newly formed Coro Casa da Musica in Porto. That same year he also created his own music publishing company, Theatre of Voices Edition (www.tov-edition.com). During 2009 he was artist in residence at Yale University’s Institute for Sacred Music. In 2010 he was awarded his second Grammy - for David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion.

His recordings, over a hundred and fifty CDs including seven solo recitals for harmonia mundi, Dacapo Records among others have earned worldwide acclaim and won numerous prizes.

Hillier regularly collaborates with the leading chamber choirs as the Danish National Radio Choir, NDR Rundfunkchor, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Houston Chamber Choir, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and orchestras as London Sinfonietta, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, Athelas Sinfonietta, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Ensemble Remix, Concerto Palatino, Estonian State Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic, South Denmark Philharmonic, Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto and Utah Symphony Orchestra.

Engagements have led him to festivals such as the Bergen International Festival, RheinVokal Festival, Musikfest Berlin, BBC Proms, Edinburgh Festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival and at the Royal Danish Opera.

Hillier is closely working with the Kronos Quartet, Peter Sellars, Bobbie McFarren, Tim Rushton and Richard Alston.

In 2018, he unveils a new A cappella work by Arvo Pärt with Ars Nova Copenhagen on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of Salamanca University.

In 2006 he was awarded an OBE for services to choral music. In 2007 he received the Order of the White Star of Estonia, and was awarded a Grammy for Best Choral Recording of Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem. In 2013 was made Knight of Dannebrog (the Danish knighthood) by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Paul Hillier was born in Dorchester and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He has taught at the University of California and from 1996-2003 was Director of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University. His books about Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich are published by Oxford University Press.

Season 2017/18

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News

Paul Hillier conducts 'The Christmas Story' with Chamber Choir Ireland

Paul Hillier conducts the Chamber Choir Ireland in Kilkenny and Dublin on 8 and 9 December presenting Hugo Distler's The Christmas Story and works by Gerald Barry, Rhona Clarke, Eric Sweeney, Eoghan Desmond and Frank Corcoran. 

Paul Hillier conducts opening concert of Niedersächsische Musiktage

Paul Hillier is on the rostrum of the Osnabrück Symphony and ChorWerk Ruhr in two concerts at Niedersächsische Musiktage in Osnabrück and Verden on 2 and 4 September conducting works by Arvo Pärt, Thomas Tallis, J.S. Bach, György Ligeti and Peteris Vasks.

Paul Hillier conducts Bach Matthew Passion in Helsinki

Paul Hillier leads J.S.Bach's Matthew Passion with the Finnish Baroque Orchestra, Suomen Laulu Choir and six soloists (Else Torp, Iris Oja, Mati Turi among others) in Helsinki on 13 April.

Paul Hillier conducts Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir with contemporaries

Paul Hillier conducts the programme "Nocturne" featuring works by Galina Grigorjeva, Nino Janjgava, Lera Auerbach

and Roxanna Panufnik with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in two concerts in Tartu on 24 March and in Tallinn on 25 March.

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Paul Hillier conducts Dowland and Birtwistle in Porto

Paul Hillier conducts the Portuguese first performance of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's „Three Latin Motets“ as well as his own, gripping transcriptions

of John Dowland's „Lachrimae“ and works by John Taverner, Thomas Tallis and John Dunstable with the Coro Casa da Musica Porto in Porto on 22 January.

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Paul Hillier conducts NDR Rundfunkchor Hamburg

Paul Hillier conducts the NDR Rundfunkchor Hamburg in two concerts on 20 and 21 December in Hamburg with German, English and Latin Christmas songs, church songs

with old melodies from Sweden and Finland as well as own arrangements. NDR Kultur broadcasts the concert on 25 December from 20:00-22:00 (CET).

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Paul Hillier: Galina Grigorjeva portrait CD of the week

The new CD by Paul Hillier, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Theatre of Voices with a portrait of Galina Grigorjeva for Ondine Records has been chosen as CD of the week by www.klassik-heute.de.

Paul Hillier conducts NDR Radio Choir Hamburg

Paul Hillier conducts the NDR Radio Choir Hamburg in three A cappella concerts with an exciting Nordic programme of works by Askell Masson, Jean Sibelius,

Edvard Grieg, Edward Elgar and Per Norgard. Concert dates: 29 January Lübeck, 30 January Schwerin and 30 January Hamburg.

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Paul Hillier at the Nargen Festival

Paul Hillier conducts the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and soloists on 9 September at the Nargen Festival in Tallinn in an entire Arvo Pärt programme: Miserere, Festina lente und Sarah was ninety years old.

Paul Hillier in Tallinn

Paul Hillier conducts a programme of works of the renowned, Ukrainian composer Galina Grigorjeva in Tallinn on 18 January. The high-level concert brings together two top vocal groups, the Estonian Philharmonic

Chamber Choir and Theatre of Voices as well as the Estonian YXUS Ensemble.

The recording is available on the Estonian Classic Radio archive.

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Paul Hillier at the Diaghilev Festival

Paul Hillier was invited by the Diaghilev Festival Perm (Artistic Director: Teodor Currentzis) to conduct the Chamber Choir Ireland and the choir of Perm Opera, MusicAeterna. On 28 June he led an a cappella

programme with excerpts of Arvo Pärt's Kanon Pokajanen, motets by J.S. Bach, Brahms and Bruckner as well as contemporary Irish pieces.

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David Lang: the little match girl passion

Press

  • CD: Buxtehude and his Circle with Theatre of Voices

    Buxtehude's own chorale-based trio setting of Jesu, meine Freude is sung and played beautifully. [..] and Hillier's lovely performance is on a par with the very finest that the Buxtehude discography has to offer.

    Gramophone, David Vickers, 01.07.2016

    There are few artists as well equipped to perform this repertoire than Paul Hillier and his Theatre of Voices ensemble, here consisting of seven vocalists and eight instrumentalists. [..] The singing and playing are superb in every way: technically secure and polished, bold, confident, colorful and expressive.

    Fanfare, James A. Altena, 29.07.2016

  • CD: Galina Grigorjeva: Natura Morte

    This new album from the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir reinforces their position as one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles. Paul Hillier directs them through a deeply satisfying survey of music by the Ukrainian-born Estonian composer Galina Grigorjeva (Ondine Records).

    www.gramophone.co.uk, Malcom Riley, 01.04.2016

    Familiar yet strange, archaic but modern, these deeply felt choral pieces by Galina Grigorjeva are brought radiantly to life in this magnificent recording.If you are unfamiliar with the music of the Estonian composer, these beautiful new recordings will come as a revelation. But then if you did know her music, you’d have bought this album already – it’s that good. With a sound world that in places seems to contemplate the immensity of the cosmos, it’s an engrossing and richly rewarding experience, and it’s brought radiantly to life on this album with fine solo performances and immaculate ensemble work Paul Hillier.

    Primephonic, Kevin Painting, 27.04.2016

  • The North sings and calls beguilingly

    The NDR Choir blossoms under Paul Hillier on a Nordic theme night and coped effortlessly the most difficult parts. (...). Particularly touching was Jean Sibelius' Rakastava which blossomed gentle and noble under Hilliers hands.

    Die Welt, Lutz Lesle, 02.02.2016

    Choir concert for connoisseurs

    Choral works with the title "Northern Lights" assigned to the northern European culture were performed by the NDR Choir. The three pieces by Edward Elgar were presented with exemplary articulation and slender tone. The basic feature of the evening was the round tone of the choir (...). The suggestive power that can be gained, not least from the literal meaning, was stunning. The audience thanked the NDR Choir for its virtuosic mastery.

    Lübecker Nachrichten, Dieter Kroll, 31.01.2016

  • Arvo Pärt - A Retrospective at Festival Europäische Kirchenmusik Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Paul Hillier is an acknowledged expert of Arvo Pärt on the podium. (…) Arvo Pärt’s sound creations are spiritually motivated, the texts which he creates are deeply religious. The prayer “Salve nos” raises from gentle pleading to urgent calls  - with choral sounds beautifully unfold. (…) The eight singers, vocally well equipped, articulate consistently comprehensible, whether they sing Spanish, English, Latin, German or Church Slavic. Their interpretations of music sound clear and pure – dissolving in pleasing harmonies from striking dissonances.

    Gmünder Tagespost, Beate Krannich, 03.08.2015

  • CD Buxtehude Scandinavian Cantatas with Theatre of Voices

    This "Scandinavian Cantatas" disc by Dietrich Buxtehude is an outstanding success. It offers an adventurous programme of lovely music, most beautifully performed and recorded. The six singers of the Theatre of Voices are all excellent and form an exceptionally fine-sounding ensemble, and the small period-instrument TOV Band are just as good. They are directed by Paul Hillier with admirable style and commitment.

    Stephen Midgley, 10/2013

  • Buxtehude Theatre of Voices

    Under artistic director Paul Hillier the formidable ensemble Theatre of Voices display a harmonious and pleasant evening. With tonal variety, versatility and energetic power, Theatre of Voices made the music radiate brightly and billiantly.

    Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten, 24.06.2013

  • YXUS Ensemble/National Chamber Choir of Ireland: Arvo Pärt Passio, Dublin

    Paul Hillier's experience shows particularly in his unobtrusively natural pacing of the music… That balance is struck perfectly in Hillier's interpretation, which is gripping from start to finish …..This is, in short, a performance of the highest calibre

    Culturenorthernireland.org, 03/2013

  • The Little Match Girl Passion with Rundfunkchor Berlin

    Under the direction of Paul Hillier, who already conducted the New York premiere in 2007, the Pulitzer-Preis award winning composition clearly intoned by the Rundfunkchor Berlin left a strong impact.

    Neue Musikzeitung, 01.10.2012

  • An intimate collection

    Choral master Paul Hillier knows the music of Arvo Pärt as well as anyone, having been for the composer's early ECM recordings, written one of the few books on him and, lately, led a series of excellent Pärt surveys for Harmonia Mundi. Here, Hillier offers an intimate collection of vocal and instrumental chamber pieces that range across the Estonian's career, anchored by the Stabat Mater of 1985 – a contemporary classic that stands with the greatest works devoted to the "grieving mother", from Josquin to Poulenc, beautifully sung and recorded.

    LISTEN 05/2012

  • CD Arvo Pärt Creator Spiritus Theatre of Voices

    Paul Hillier's selection of works by Arvo Pärt is featuring several instrumental works alongside chamber scale as choral works. The artists' glorious singing will elicit shivers of delight. The string quartet work Solfeggio fascinates as an example of Pärt's earlier style. As an introduction to Pärt's world, this could hardly be bettered.

    The Arts Desk, 05/2012

  • CD The Christmas Story Theatre of Voices / Ars Nova Copenhagen

    This recording leaves the listener speechless with admiration. Hillier achieves great work with his two ensembles Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen: This music sounds so transparent in its polyphony, in its intonation so immediate and in its often little deviations so delicate. Hillier conveys a suggestive way of letting music sound simple and natural. His choir's voices hold a core that even in a most gentle way does never sound smugly at all. In the end the music fades like sounds of a bell. This recording offers new and familiar facets as well as festive and devout elements. An a-capella choir seldom appears with such a successful combination of dedication and tonal beauty, of meditative power and unintrusive inner refulgence.

    wdr3.de TonArt, Christoph Vratz, 06.12.2011

Discography

In Dulci Jubilo Music for the Christmas season by Buxtehude and friends
Theatre of Voices
Dacapo records (2017)
Crossing Borders

Ars Nova Copenhagen
Carl Nielsen, Niels W. Gade, Wilhelm Stenhammar, Vagn Holmboe, Line Tjørnhøj
Dacapo records (2017)

Galina Grigorjeva: Nature Morte

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Theatre of Voices, YXUS Quartet
Paul Hillier (conductor)
ONDINE (2016)

Arvo Pärt: Creator Spiritus Theatre of Voices, NYYD Quartett, Ars Nova Copenhagen
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent
harmonia mundi (2012)
Stories - Berio and friends Theatre of Voices
harmonia mundi (2011)
David Lang: the little match girl passion Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen
harmonia mundi (2009)
Grammy Award
The Christmas Story Theatre of Voices
harmonia mundi (2011)
Baltic Runes A-cappella-Werke von Veljo Tormis, Jean Sibelius, Cyrillus Kreek, Erik Bergman
Estnischer Philharmonischer Kammerchor
harmonia mundi (2010)
Orthodox Chant Estnischer Philharmonischer Kammerchor
harmonia mundi (2008)
Toivo Tulev: Songs Tallinn Chamber Orchestra
Estnischer Philharmonischer Kammerchor
harmonia mundi (2008)
Scattered Rhymes The Orlando Consort
Estnischer Philharmonischer Kammerchor
harmonia mundi (2008)
Arvo Pärt: Da Pacem Estnischer Philharmonischer Kammerchor
harmonia mundi (2006)
John Cage: Litany for the Whale Theatre of Voices
Terry Riley (Arrangement)
harmonia mundi (2002)
Hoquetus Medieval European Vocal Music
Theatre of Voices
harmonia mundi (1999)