Theatre of Voices Vocal Ensemble Various Countries

Theatre of Voices was founded in London in 1990 by early music icon Paul Hillier. The group’s first concerts in Berlin and London featured new works by Arvo Pärt as well as by John Cage. After twelve flourishing years in California performing right across North America and making various European tours, Hillier moved back to Europe in 2003 and the group has been based in Copenhagen.

Theatre of Voices is counted among the world’s finest vocal ensembles. Its main focus nowadays is on new music, though very often interwoven with various kinds of early music, reflecting Hillier’s lifelong devotion to these two ends of the musical spectrum. Together Hillier and Theatre of Voices have enjoyed close collaborations with numerous composers: Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, John Cage, Ingram Marshall, John Adams, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Heiner Goebbels, Kaija Saariaho, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Helena Tulve, Sunleif Rasmussen, Jóhann Jóhannsson and many more.

An intense artistic partnership ties the group with Concerto Copenhagen, Kronos Quartett, Meta4 String Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Michala Petri, Fretwork, Phantasm, Peter Langars, Pablo Ortiz among others.

The ensemble performs at prominent international festivals and major venues, but it also enjoys special projects that take it to unusual places and parts of the world. In 2019 the group was giving concerts in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, presenting new musical works from each of these places. In January 2019 Theatre of Voices gave its highly-acclaimed debut at Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall in Hamburg, which included the world premiere of Michael Gordon’s new work A Western, based on the film High Noon.



During 2018 the ensemble featured in Kaija Saariaho's opera Only the Sound Remains with performances at Palais Garnier in Paris, Teatro Real in Madrid and Lincoln Center. Theatre of Voices were also performing as soloists with the BBC Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.

In 2010—the group’s 20th anniversary year—Theatre of Voices received a Grammy Award for David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion. Theatre of Voices has also moved into the film world. Tracks from more than thirty CD recordings are used on movie soundtracks such as La Grande Bellezza and Arrival, and the ensemble has worked on film projects with Danish documentarist Phie Amboe and Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.

Theatre of Voices is grateful to be sponsored by the Danish Arts Foundation and Augustinus Foundation.

Season 2019/20

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News

Theatre of Voices: First performance in London

Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier perform the programme Baltic Voices at London King's Place on 27 September featuring the world premiere of Helena Hulve's The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and music by Veljo Tormis, Arvo Pärt, Galina Grigorjeva and Peteris Vasks.

Theatre of Voices & Paul Hillier at Elbphilharmonie

Theatre of Voices performs under the direction of Paul Hillier at Grand Hall of Elbphilharmonie Hamburg on 13 January music by John Cage, Heiner Goebbels, Johann Johannsson, Bernd Franke, Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich and the first performance of A Western by Michael Gordon. NDR Kultur broadcasts the recording on 26 February, 21:00 (CET).

Theatre of Voices in Kaija Saariaho's opera in Madrid

Four singers of Theatre of Voices perform the vocal parts of Kaija Saariaho's opera Only the sound remains at Teatro Real Madrid from 23 October to 9 November: https://www.teatro-real.com/en/season-18-19/opera/only-the-sound-remains

Theatre of Voices at RheinVokal Festival

Theatre of Voices performs at RheinVokal Festival in Andernach on 5 August music by David Lang and medieval songs. SWR2 broadcasts the concert on 28 October 2018 from 21:30-23:00.

Theatre of Voices performs 'Stimmung' in London

Theatre of Voices sings Karlheinz Stockhausen's Stimmung in London, Kings Place on 9 February at the 50th anniversary of this revolutionary vocal work.

Theatre of Voices in Bogota

Theatre of Voices performs Karlheinz Stockhausen's Stimmung with six singers in Bogota in two concerts on 14 and 15 February.

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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Press

  • Paul Hillier and his Theatre of Voices give the Elbphilharmonie a great moment of choral singing

    Paul Hillier had devised a truly unique evening programme for the Elbphilharmonie debut of the Theatre of Voices. He confronted liturgical chants from the 13th to the 15th century directly with choral works of the 20th and 21st century, and exposed the strange novelty and intriguing audacity of epochs that separated many centuries. [...]Hillier's angelic vocalists unexpectedly turned the hall into a cathedral. [...]The final hit of the exciting evening was provided by the American Michael Gordon, co-founder of the New York composer group "Bang on a can", with his first commissioned work "A Western. […] Well done!

    Lutz Lesle, Die Welt Hamburg, 15.01.2019

  • Kaija Saariaho: "Only the Sound Remains" at Teatro Real Madrid

    Saariaho lets the four marvelous voices hiss, vocalize, mutter, whisper, emit precise metric sounds of evasive pitch and, of course, sing. [...] The contribution of Theatre of Voices and Meta4 Quartet, is transcendental and any praises fall short in accounting for the degree of sensitivity, technical perfection and affinity with the fleeting and reverberating sound world of Saariaho which they demonstrate each and everyone.
    El Pais, Luis Gago, 24.10.2018

    The fascinating vocal quartet Theatre of Voices complements what you see and hear on stage. An exquisite amplification of the sound achieves in the voices, together or alone, nuances that reach the soul.
    Shangay, Cultura, 25.10.2018

    ...Pure intonation and infinite vocal flexibility...
    Beckmesser.com, Arturo Reverter, 24.10.2018

  • Kaija Saariaho: "Only the Sound Remains" at Paris Opera

    The superb vocal quartet Theatre of Voices brings together soprano Else Torp, alto Iris Oja, tenor Paul Bentley-Angell and bass-baritone Jakob Bloch. Together, under Ernest Martinez Izquierdo, they do more than accompany the two protagonists - the man, the priest, the specter, the angel – who lead the boats of the two works, they double them in instruments and voice.

    webtheatre.fr 1/2018

    Theatre of Voices embellishes this haunting composition with humanity, as much in its gestique as in its vocal engagement. It forms the cornerstone of this ode to echoes, relaying the pit and the stage with great strength, despite astonishingly evasive transitions.

    opera-online.com 1/2018

  • Stockhausen's "Stimmung" in London

    Theatre of Voices proved here that the potency of 1968, however distant or absent from personal memory, can still communicate, even intoxicate, five decades on.

    bachtrack.com, Matthew Rye, 10.02.2018

  • 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

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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

Programmes 2019/20/21 with Paul Hillier:

A Western

Music by David Lang
Michael Gordon: A Western
A set of Tudor music by Taverner, Tallis and Byrd
Orlando Gibbons: The Cries of London

Music for a Sound-House (Music from Tudor London and contemporary New York)

Orlando Gibbons: The Cries of London  I
John Taverner: In nomine
Orlando Gibbons: The Cries of London  II
Michael Gordon: A Western
David Lang: Solitary (Version for 8 singers tbc)
William Byrd: Pavan and Galliard, In nomine I
Julia Wolfe: Guard my tongue
William Byrd: Fantasy II à 6 (or Tristitia et anxietas)

Arvo Pärt: Portrait concert

Part 1: Church music
Part 2: Chamber music
Part 3: Night music (N.N. string quartet)
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organ

The Little Match Girl Passion

David Lang: The little match girl passion, on texts by H.C. Andersen, H.P. Paull, Picander and St. Matthias

love.fail

„Robin and Marion – the archetypal French love couple“
Collage by Paul Hillier of medieval songs of the musical comedy  „Jeu de Robin et Marion“ by Adam de la Halle (from around 1235 –  to around 1288) and of secular motets of unknown composers of 13th century arranged by Paul Hillier
David Lang: „love, fail” for four female voices and percussion

ear for EAR

John Cage: ear for EAR
Bernd Franke: Rilke-Madrigale
Arvo Pärt: I am the true vine
Guillaume Dufay: Gloria ad modem tubae (arr. Paul Hillier)
Guillaume de Machaut: Veni creator spiritus/Christe qui lux es
Heiner Goebbels: The Excursion into the Mountains (Kafka)
Michael Gordon: A Western
anon. 13th century: Alleluia Hockets (arr. Paul Hillier)
Jóhann Jóhannsson: Orphic Hymn
Steve Reich / Paul Hillier: Clapping Music (vocal arr. By Paul Hillier)

In dulci jubilo

(with instrumental ensemble)

Johann 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
Programme 2019/20/21 ohne Paul Hillier

Stimmung

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Stimmung
Kopenhagener Version (2006)

Ryoanji

John Cage: Ryoanji
(gemischtes Werk für Sänger und Instrumentalisten)

In dulci jubilo

(Fassung für kleine Besetzung)  

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