About us

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 regularly performs in Portsmouth and Petersfield. Each year we go on a choir tour either to a UK or Continental European destination, and have been privileged to sing in many fine 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 2023 we will be touring to Wells Cathedral, Glastonbury Abbey and St Mary’s Bridgwater. Further ahead, we have plans to re-visit Palestrina in Italy.

We currently rehearse at the Emsworth Community Association (near Emsworth train station, and on the 700 bus route), PO10 7DD, on Friday evenings. New members can be assured of a warm welcome. Learn more about joining us!

Hear what our members think about us – video from June 2022.

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