The Renaissance Choir was formed in 1976 by Ray Calcraft, with a vision to put the beautiful music of the Renaissance period at the heart of its repertoire.
There are about 34 of us in the chamber choir and we’re good friends – new members often comment on how welcoming the choir is! Our conductor, Peter Gambie, has led the choir since 1992.
Whilst our favourite choral music is Renaissance polyphony, we also perform more contemporary works. We love to sing the music of: Byrd, Tallis, Victoria and Palestrina, and later composers such as Bach, Mozart, Poulenc, Whitacre and Lauridsen, to name a few. Most of our music is performed a cappella.
The choir performs at beautiful venues in Portsmouth, Petersfield and across the UK. We regularly travel abroad as a choir, touring to Europe every other year – and have been privileged to sing in many prestigious European venues including: St Peter’s Basilica (Rome), the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Notre Dame (Paris), and Jeronimos Abbey (Portugal). We have also collaborated with choirs in Europe, joining with: the world class Monteverdi Korus to give the first Anglo-Hungarian performance of Spem in Budapest, with Portugal’s premier cathedral choir the Coro Santa Maria de Belem in Lisbon, and with the prize-winning Marianski choir in Krakow, Poland.
Much of our choral work is pioneering – in our early years the choir was highly regarded in Spain for re-introducing the public to composers such as Vivanco and Guerrero. More recently, in the UK, we gave premieres of works by American composers, including Whitacre. And we gave the world premiere of Rodrigo’s Cantico de San Francisco at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
We aim to perform up to six concerts a year as a choir with around seven or eight rehearsals preceding each concert.
In the last few years we have visited Utrecht in the Netherlands (along with our friends and supporters who often join for social events and tours), released the album Stream of Life (named after its featured work by Ian Schofield) and made a recording of Tallis’ If Ye Love Me from our homes. Listen to our recordings.
In the near future, we plan to perform on tour at Wells Cathedral and Glastonbury Abbey, and also in Dresden and Leipzig in Germany.
We currently rehearse at the Emsworth Community Association (near Emsworth train station, and on the 700 bus route) on Friday evenings. At the moment our rehearsals take place fortnightly on Zoom, but we are very much looking forward to being able to meet and sing together in person again soon. New members can be assured of a warm welcome. Learn more about joining us!