© João Messias
 © Klaus Holsting

Theatre of Voices Vocal Ensemble Various Countries

Theatre of Voices was founded by its Artistic Director Paul Hillier in 1990 and is widely recognized as one of Europe’s foremost vocal groups. Their recording of The Little Match Girl Passion was awarded the Grammy in 2010 in the category ‘Best Small Ensemble Performance’.

Current projects include music ranging from Perotin, Dowland, Buxtehude to many of today’s most eminent composers such as Arvo Pärt, Luciano Berio (including Sinfonia for vocal ensemble and orchestra), Steve Reich, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen.

The group regularly performs at Carnegie Hall, lately with Stockhausen’s Stimmung and  David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion which they have premiered in this hall, as well as at the Edinburgh International Festival, Barbican London, Berliner Festspiele, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Bergen International Festival and at the Royal Opera Copenhagen.

Tours led the group to Germany, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Mexico and Australia. Recent highlights include appearances in Toulouse (Pärt: Retrospective), Le Mans  (David Lang&Arvo Pärt), East Neuk Festival Scotland (first performance of David Lang’s Memorial Ground), Prague Dvorak Festival (Lang & Stockhausen), Fürth (Hamlet’s Tears) and Hamburg (Pärt portrait).

Theatre of Voices works with some of the finest instrumentalists. They are working regularly with the Kronos Quartet (2009 premiere of Gavin Bryars’s The Stone Arch at Barbican Centre’s Steve Reich Festival). They have been working with London Sinfonietta on a concert and recording series of music by Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen.

The discography of Theatre of Voices includes numerous CDs for harmonia mundi, including the highly praised recording Creator Spiritus with chamber music works by Arvo Pärt, the album The Christmas Story based on the traditional Christmas service Nine Lessons and Carols, Stockhausen’s Stimmung, works by Luciano Berio and other contemporary composers (Stories) and Cries of London (English renaissance music) as well as David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion.

Dacapo-Records has released Buxtehude’s Scandinavian Cantatas as well as works by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen based on Song in Dowland's Lacrimae.

Season 2017/18

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News

Theatre of Voices with Arvo Pärt portrait in Hamburg

Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier present a comprehensive portrait concert of Arvo Pärt in Hamburg on 9 June. The programme features church music

, chamber music and A Cappella music of the Estonian composer in various settings joined by organ, piano and string quartet.

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Theatre of Voices performs in Le Mans

Theatre of Voices performs the programme "The Great Beauty", consisting of soundtracksy by Arvo Pärt, David Lang and Johan Johansson in Le Mans (F) on 27 April. The five singers will be joined by violinist Niklas Walentin and pianist Christina Bjørkøe.

Theatre of Voices & Paul Hillier in Toulouse

Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier perform in Toulouse/Blagnac vocal music by Arvo Pärt A Retrospective with music of five decades on 23 May.

Theatre of Voices with Hamlet’s Tears in Fürth

The Danish vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier perform in Fürth on 19 March the exciting programme Hamlet’s Tears. Works by John Dowland are

juxtaposed by compositions by Arvo Pärt and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. The concert will be broadcasted on 7 April, 20:03 at BR Klassik.

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Theatre of Voices at the Festival Europäische Kirchenmusik

Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier perform at the Festival Europäische Kirchenmusik in Schwäbisch Gmünd on 1 August the programme Arvo Pärt A Retrospective: vocal music of five decades. 

Stockhausen's "Stimmung" with Theatre of Voices

Danish vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier perform Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Stimmung at the Bergen International Festival on 3 June.

 

 

Theatre of Voices at Hong Kong Arts Festival

The Danish vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices gives its debut in Hong Kong performing two concerts on 25 and 26 March featuring Arvo Pärt An Retrospective and works

by Giacomo Carissimi, Girolamo Frescobaldi and David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion (Family Values II: Old and New programme).

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Theatre of Voices at Carnegie Hall

The Danish vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices returns to the Carnegie Hall New York on 21 February performing Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Stimmung at the Zankel Hall.

 

 

Theatre of Voices on festival tour

The outstanding Danish vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices perfoms at the Lausitzer Musiksommer in Kamenz on 19 July and at the festival RheinVokal in Maria Laach on 20 July. Together with violin, viola and cello, the ensemble

performs early music by de Machaut, Hildegard von Bingen as well as contemporary music by Arvo Pärt and Gavin Bryars. The concert in Maria Laach will be recorded and broadcasted on 27 October between 20 and 23h on SWR2.

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David Lang: The Little Match Girl Passion

Press

  • CD: In dulci jubilo

    As classy as Christmas albums come delivered with razor-sharp clarity.

    The Guardian, Kate Molleson, 09.11.2017

  • CD Green Ground: Music by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

    Like nature, the music on the CD "Green Ground" sometimes shows a rough side. But the blossoming of beauty is always only a few bars away. Just this contrast makes the new CD of the Kronos Quartet together with the vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices under Paul Hillier so exciting: the tipping back and forth from the dull into the glimmering and back again. (…) Varied yet still as if from a single cast - a journey through the music of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, which is worthwhile and which will do justice to the oblique humor for which the composer was known. Playfully and musically through and through superbly presented.

    BR Klassik, Kristin Amme, 07.12.2016

  • CD Green Ground: Music by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

    The Kronos Quartet and the vocal quartet Theatre of Voices were among Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s favorite ensembles, and their new joint CD ranks among the best recordings of his music. Kronos’s playing is both clear and insistent, but not forced, and the singers are extremely precise and crystal clear, even as they, simultaneously, have to play various clattering percussion.

    Politiken, Henrik Friis, 04.07.2016

  • CD: Buxtehude and his Circle

    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: Buxtehude & his circle

    The protestant church music of the 17th century became a very special mixture of strength, phantasy, expression and inwardness in the Northern Germany. Paul Hillier and his Theatre of Voices make this clear in a thoughtfully designed program, which connects the predecessors of Buxtehude, like Tunder, and his younger contemporaries as Geist and Bruhns. The phonetical homogeneity and fullness of vocal and instrumental ensembles is technically impressive. Interpreted, not only the severity of the tone is touching, but also and especially the meditation into the spirit of this era. (for the jury: Matthias Hengelbrock)

    „List of the Best“, Deutsche Schallplattenkritik 3/2016

  • Emotionality: Theatre of Voices combines old and new

    For Theatre of Voices works of John Dowland, Arvo Pärt and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreeen are no real contrast as present and past brighten each other. It is the great merit of the ensemble that the tricky passage between Renaissance music and contemporary got indeed audible. Full tender and intimately the high voices start the Russian psalm No. 133 by Arvo Pärt with a floating and weightless melody (...).  Paul Hillier amended Dowland's instrumental music by texts, which add another dimension: the songs get even more emotional power .

    Nürnberger Nachrichten, Sigrun Arenz, 21.03.2016

  • 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

    The ensemble interpreted all works in an outstanding form of A cappella singing. (...) They performed the interesting composition “Solfeggio” with a striking free use of true harmonic, picturesque syllables of solmisation (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do). The choir thereby proved its ability to form vivid sound tapes with herewith created sonic micro-intervals (…).In the polyphonic “Seven Magnificat Antiphons" the singers were always in balance and displayed clear distinctive voices and an intense charisma of sound.

    Rems Zeitung, Christine Lackner, 04.08.2015

  • Theatre of Voices stupefies with Stockhausen's „Stimmung“

    One of the most innovative vocal ensembles of the 21st century defining a new standard of vocal mastery, Theatre of Voices effectively executed the eclectic omnium-gatherum of extended techniques demanded by Stockhausen.

    bachtrack, Jacob Slattery, 24.02.2015

    It’s performance was confident and luminous, controlled yet free, both playful and solemn.

    The New York Times, Zachary Woolfe, 22.02.2015

     

  • Vocals between heaven and earth

    Highlight of the concert was Pärt's Stabat Mater. From the beginning to the end there was only floating, a deeply focussed and condensed contemplation of pure pleasant sound.

    Rhein-Zeitung, Liselotte Sauer-Kaulbach, 30.07.2014

    One could admire the adoration of Virgin Mary "Most Holy Mother of God", the prayer for peace "Da Pacem" and the twenty-minutes piece Stabat Mater by Arvo Pärt. Theatre of Voices attested the chants with flawless intonation merging strikingly intenseness, deepness and ascetisism.

    Sächsische Zeitung, Karsten Blüthgen, 21.07.2014

  • Buxtehude and his Circle - Musikfestspiele Potsdam

    With tonal variety, flexibility and energetic power Theatre of Voices made Buxtehude's music gleaming lucentlyand brightly.

    Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten, Babette Kaiserkern, 24.06.2013

  • Buxtehude and his Circle - Musikfestspiele Potsdam

    Theatre of Voices' cast is outstanding, above all the two gentlemen. The most touching parts were the rather simple choral parts, for instance Buxtehude's Danish compositions.

    rbb Kulturradio, Clemens Goldberg,  22.06.2013

  • An intimate collection of vocal and instrumental chamber pieces

    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 Pärt Creator Spiritus)

  • Impressively packaged disc on Arvo Pärt

    Seven works by Arvo Pärt are included on this impressively packaged disc featuring the Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen and the NYDD Quartet, directed by Paul Hillier. Both vocal and instrumental forces are brought together in the bone-chilling, claustrophobic »Ein Wallfahrtslied« and the more expansive Stabat Mater, which rounds off the recording. Pärt's setting of Robert Burns »My heart's in the highlands« is something of a understated highlight, with Else Torp's motionless lines wonderfully complemented and supported by Christopher Bowers-Broadbent on organ.

    Gramophone, 05/2012  (CD Pärt Creator Spiritus)

  • Glorious Singing

    Paul Hillier's selection is described as a chamber music collection, featuring several instrumental works alongside chamber scale as choral works. The artists' glorious singing will elicit shivers of delight. Of the string quartet works, Solfeggio, a recent transcription of a 1963 choral work, fascinates as as example of Pärt's earlier style. Light relief of sorts is provided by soprano Else Torp's gorgeous delivery of a Robbie Burns poem. As an introduction to Pärt's world, this could be hardly be bettered.

    The Arts Desk, 05/2012 (CD Pärt Creator Spiritus)

  • Speechless with admiration

    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, 12/2011 (CD The Christmas Story)

  • Skillful soloist ensemble

    Paul Hillier fills his ensemble Theatre of Voices with not more than six vocalists and entrusts all vocal technically more precarious tasks rather to the ensemble than to the chamber choir Ars Nova Copenhagen. Especially the Italian dialogues are created with a reliable sense of style and taste and at the same time benefit from a differentiated articulation. The vocalist's tonal level is technically and stylistic unexceptionable. This is a very atmospheric Advent and Christmas disc, which presents a harmonically arranged chamber choir as well as a thereto contrastive and skillful soloist's ensemble.

    www.klassik.com, 10/2011 (CD The Christmas Story)

Programmes

Arvo Pärt: Da PacemDa Pacem
Berliner Messe:                                             
Kyrie . Gloria . Alleluia vers I + II . Veni sancte spiritus .
Credo . Sanctus . Benedictus . Agnus
Veni creator spiritus
Nunc dimittis
Trivium
Virgencita
Salve Regina                                                        
Arvo Pärt und Anonymus: Sacred Chamber MusicTheatre of Voices vocal trio & Yxus string trio:
Gavin Bryars: Incipit vita nova
Anonymus 13. Jh.: Stond wel moder under roode
Anonymus 13. Jh.: Veni creator spiritus
Anonymus 13. Jh.: Benedicamus Domino
Arvo Pärt: Es sang vor langen Jahren
Giya Kancheli: Nach dem Weinen
Hildegard von Bingen: Columba aspexit
Arvo Pärt: Stabat Mater     
 
The Anatomy of MelancholyKaija Saariaho: Lonh
Heiner Gobbels: Worstward Ho
John Dowland: 1. Lachrimae Antiquae: Flow my tears (Dowland)
                         2. Lachrimae Antiquae Novae: Time and the bell (T.S. Eliot)
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Sound I
John Dowland: 3. Lachrimae Antiquae Gementes: Do not go gentle (Dylan Thomas)
                         4. Lachrimae Tristes: Ev'n such is time/What is our life (Walter Raleigh)
                         5. Lachrimae Coactae: Many men are melancholy (Thomas Burton)
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Sound II
John Dowland:  6. Lachrimae Amantis: My God I heard this day (George Herbert)
                          7. Lachrimae Verae: The dove descending (T.S. Eliot)
 


In dulci jubiloJohann Christian Bach: Merk auf mein Herz
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck: Ab Oriente
Christian Geist: Pastores dicite
Dietrich Buxtehude: Das neugeborne Kindelein
Dietrich Buxtehude: Jesu dulcis memoria (ciacona)
Dietrich Buxtehude: In dulci jubilo
Franz Tunder: Ein kleines Kindelein
Christian Geist: Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Dietrich Buxtehude: Fürchtet Euch nicht
Matthias Weckmann: Rex virtutum
Dietrich Buxtehude: Nun kommt der Heiden Heiland
Dietrich Buxtehude: Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Buxtehude and his CircleKaspar Förster (1616-1673): Confitebur tibi Domine
Dieterich Buxtehude (ca. 1637-1707): Aperite mihi porta
Dieterich Buxtehude: Canzona in G
Franz Tunder (1614-1667): Dominus illuminatio mea
Dieterich Buxtehude: Was mich auf dieser Welt betrübt
Dieterich Buxtehude: Jesu meine Freude
---
Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697): De profundis
Dieterich Buxtehude: Prelude in G
Christian Geist (ca. 1650-1711): Die mit Tränen säen
Christian Geist: Dixit Dominus
'The Great Beauty'Arvo Pärt: Fratres (violin & piano) 
David Lang: I lie (voices)
                    (heard in the film ‘The Great Beauty’)
Arvo Pärt: My heart’s in the highlands (voice, piano)
                 (heard in ‘The Great Beauty’)
David Lang: Wed (piano)
Arvo Pärt: Passacaglia (violin & piano)
David Lang: Head, Heart (voices)
Arvo Pärt: Variations (piano)
David Lang: Simple Song #3 (voice, piano)
                    (heard in ‘Youth’)
Arvo Pärt: Zwei Wiegenlieder (voices, piano)
Arvo Pärt: Spiegel im Spiegel (violin & piano)  with Niklas Walentin, violin and Christina Bjørkøe, piano               
Arvo Pärt - La Grande BellezzaArvo Pärt: My heart's in the highlands
Nino Janjgava: Aliluia I
Arvo Pärt: Pari Intervallo
Nino Janjgava: Aliluia II
Arvo Pärt: Veni creator
Kevin Volans: Walking Song
Nino Janjgava: Aliluia III
Arvo Pärt: Berliner Messe
Arvo Pärt - A RetrospectiveMorning Star (2007)
Most Holy Mother of God (2003)
The Deer’s Cry (2007)
Solfeggio (1963)
Sieben Magnificat Antiphonen (1988)
---
Missa Syllabica (1977)
Kanon Pokajanen (excerpts) (1977)
"Stories"Cathy Berberian: Stripsody
John Cage: Once upon a time
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen:  One Note (based on Purcell)
-----
Luciano Berio: A-Ronne (1974)
or
David Lang: Little Match Girl Passion
Family Values II - Old and NewGiacomo Carissimi (1605-1674): Abraham et Isaac
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643): Partite sopra l'aria di Romanesca
Giacomo Carissimi: Jephta
---
David Lang (* 1957): the little match girl passion
Stockhausen - StimmungKarlheinz Stockhausen: Stimmung
Copenhagen version (2006)
Guillaume Machaut - La Messe de Nostre DameGuillaume Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame
Early 12th century polyphony
Hamlet's TearsArvo Pärt: Habitare fratres in unum
Arvo Pärt: Two Slavonic Pslams
Arvo Pärt: Alleluia-Tropus
John Dowland: Lachrimae Antiquae
John Dowland: Lachrimae Antiquae Novae
John Dowland: Lachrimae Gementes
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Sound I
John Dowland: Lachrimae Tristes
John Dowland: Lachrimae Coactae
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Sound II
John Dowland: Lachrimae Amantis
John Dowland: Lachrimae Verae
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Song
The Christmas StoryThe christmas story told in chants, motets, dialogues and traditional christmas carols
Family Values I - The early oratorio in RomeGiacomo Carissimi (1605-1674): Abraham et Isaac
Giovanni Francesco Anerio (ca. 1567-1630): Il fanciullo Gioseffo
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643): Partite sopra l'aria di Romanesca
Giovanni Francesco Anerio: Dialogo del Figliol’ prodigo
Giacomo Carissimi: Jephte
Berio & FriendsJohan Cage: Story (1940)
Cathy Berberian: Stripsody (1966)
Roger Marsh: Not a soul but ourselves (1949)
---
Luciano Berio: A-Ronne (1974)

Discography

In Dulci Jubilo

Music for the Christmas season by Buxtehude and friends
Paul Hillier
Theatre of Voices
Dacapo records (2017)

Buxtehude and his Circle

Works by Buxtehude, Bruhns, Tunder, etc.
Paul Hillier
Theatre of Voices
Dacapo records (2016)

Galina Grigorjeva: Nature Morte

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

Mixed Company

Works by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
London Sinfonietta
Live recording London
Dacapo records (2014)

Arvo Pärt - Creator Spiritus Werke von Arvo Pärt
Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen, Paul Hillier
NYYD Quartet
harmonia mundi usa (2012)
The Christmas Story Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen
Paul Hillier
harmonia mundi (2011)
Stories - Berio and Friends Berio "A-Ronne", Cage "Story", Berberian "Stripsody" i.a.
Theatre of Voices
Paul Hillier
harmonia mundi usa (2011)
David Lang: the little match girl passion Theatre of Voice, Ars Nova Copenhagen, Paul Hillier
harmonia mundi usa (2009)
Grammy Award
Dietrich Buxtehude: Scandinavian Cantatas Theatre of Voices
Paul Hillier
Dacapo records (2010)
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Stimmung Theatre of Voices
Paul Hillier (conductor)
harmonia mundi usa (2007)
The Cries of London Songs by Gibbons, Weelkes, Dering, East, Ravenscroft
Theatre of Voices, Fretwork, Paul Hillier
harmonia mundi usa (2006)
John Cage: Litany for the Whale Theatre of Voices
Terry Riley (arrangement)
Paul Hillier (conductor)
harmonia mundi (2002)
Arvo Pärt - I am the True Vine Theatre of Voices, The Pro Arte Singers, Paul Hillier
Berliner Messe and other works
harmonia mundi usa (2000)
Arvo Pärt - De Profundis Missa Sillabica
Seven Magnificat Antiphones
Theatre of Voices
Paul Hillier
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent
harmonia mundi usa (1996)

Repertoire

Berio, Luciano With orchestra:
Sinfonia for eight voices and orchestra
Pärt, Arvo With Choir and Orchestra:
Litany for soloists, mixed choir and orchestra
Miserere for soloists, mixed choir, ensemble and organ With choir:
Passio for soloists, mixed choir, quartet and organ