The BBC Singers are delighted to announce that a celebrated roster of artists are joining them in a number of new creative appointments.
Owain Park will join the BBC Singers as Principal Guest Conductor, while Roderick Williams OBE will be appointed Composer in Association. Anna Lapwood and Abel Selaocoe both take up roles as Artists in Association. It is also announced today that Chief Conductor Sofi Jeannin has extended her contract with the BBC Singers until the end of the 2025-2026 season.
OWAIN PARK – Principal Guest Conductor
Award-winning composer and conductor Owain Park joins the BBC Singers as Principal Guest Conductor. Owain has led the BBC Singers in a number of past performances, including the Singers at Temple Church Winter Festival in 2017, a concert marking the position of Master of the King’s and Queen’s Music over the last 100 years in 2018, and most recently, the renowned BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition in 2020. Included among Owain’s numerous upcoming projects are a concert to celebrate the 70th birthday of distinguished composer and former BBC Singer, Judith Bingham on 6 May and a Total Immersion Day with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on 9 October entitled ‘Sibelius and Storytelling’.
Owain says: “I remember first encountering the BBC Singers as a young musician, watching their performances on TV and listening to their recordings on the radio. To meet them in-person, first as a composer and then as a conductor, was rather daunting, but they couldn’t be a friendlier bunch of extremely talented musicians, willing to tackle just about anything that arrives on their stand! I’m looking forward to continuing my relationship with them as Principal Guest Conductor, and developing ideas for innovative programmes that showcase the very best of what choral music has to offer, highlighting lesser-known works alongside the classics, and developing an audience base through concerts, broadcasts and education.”
RODERICK WILLIAMS OBE – Composer in Association
Roderick Williams OBE brings his choral expertise to the BBC Singers, taking the reins from Judith Weir as Composer in Association. Roddy has long enjoyed a flourishing creative partnership with the BBC Singers. His recent commissions include a major work entitled World Without End for the BBC Singers and the Rias Kammerchor in 2018, and a commission entitled O Rex Gentium, which received its world premiere in December 2021. As part of his tenure, Roddy will be writing a new piece for the BBC Singers each year.
Roddy says: “It’s nothing short of a dream to be invited to formalise my compositional relationship with the BBC Singers. I have known them for so long as a singer, going back decades to when I auditioned to join their ranks as an extra myself. I have many years of first-hand experience as to what they can accomplish as individual voices and as a world-renowned group of singers, most especially in contemporary music but also in absolutely the widest range of choral repertoire. There’s nothing they cannot sing. The experience of writing a virtuoso piece for them in 2018 (World Without End) was one of the highlights of my compositional career and I look forward to deepening our relationship and developing as a composer over the next few years.”
ANNA LAPWOOD – Artist in Association
Acclaimed organist and broadcaster Anna Lapwood is to join the BBC Singers as artist, presenter and a key support to their educational outreach. Anna’s recent highlights with the BBC Singers include a concert with the BBC Singers for International Women’s Day at Temple Church, and a collaboration with the Singers in Kristina Arakelyan’s ‘Seascapes’ in 2021 – a new choral work to go alongside Anna’s transcriptions of the Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes.
Anna says: “Several of my favourite collaborations of the last couple of years have come from working with the BBC Singers to commission new music and curate imaginative programmes, so I’m thrilled to have been appointed a BBC Singers Artist in Association for the next three years. I have enormous respect for the group’s committed approach to education, performance and diversity, so it’s an exciting prospect to be able to work so closely together over an extended period to promote marginalised voices and open up the world of choral music to as many young people as possible.”
ABEL SELAOCOE – Artist in Association
Genre-defying South African cellist Abel Selaocoe will join the BBC Singers as musician, vocalist, curator and support to the Singers’ educational work. Abel had his solo debut at the BBC Proms in August 2021 and has performed with ensembles including BBC Concert Orchestra at the EFG London Jazz Festival, Manchester Collective and Britten Sinfonia. In May 2023, he will lead the BBC Singers for a landmark re-imagining of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, presenting an eclectic fusion of music from different genres.
Abel says: “I’m so grateful for such a unique opportunity to bring my influences of South African culture, as it’s known as the nation of song. I know this journey will be so inspired and full of great explorations.”
SOFI JEANNIN – Chief Conductor
Following a successful reign as Chief Conductor since 2017, Sofi Jeannin will continue her role with the BBC Singers until 2026. Having established herself as one of this generation’s finest and most respected choral specialists over her career, Sofi’s highlights with the Singers so far include: numerous appearances at the BBC Proms, where she presented world premieres by Shiva Feshareki and Nico Muhly in the 2021 season; a collaboration with the Academy of Ancient Music and South Asian dance company Akademi; and Francis Poulenc’s iconic choral work Figure Humaine with jazz interpolations from BBC New Generation Artist Misha Mullov-Abado. Her upcoming projects with the BBC Singers include the world premiere of Joanna Marsh’s new work SEEN alongside Jody Talbot’s Path of Miracles at Milton Court on 20th May 2022, a triumphant return to the BBC Proms with the Singers this summer, and her first ever commercial recording with the Singers, due to be released in 2023.
Sofi says: “When I first met the BBC Singers back in 2017, it just clicked. I found a group of singers willing and eager to go as far as possible, with a flexibility in colour and phrasing that at times feel limitless and an expertise that is astonishing. But I also immediately felt as comfortable as in a room with old friends. Getting to work with them and getting to know them over these last years has been an absolute privilege. I feel most lucky to pursue this relationship and I feel that we have much to explore and develop together.”
Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Orchestras and Choirs, says: “These four appointments represent an important step for the BBC Singers in their ambition to bring exceptional choral music to the widest audiences. We’re thrilled to welcome Anna, Owain, Abel and Roddy, and I look forward to seeing them make outstanding contributions to the Singers’ repertoire, live performances and educational outreach. I’m also absolutely delighted that Sofi will be continuing her role as Chief Conductor. Over the past three years, Sofi’s exuberance and energy have led the BBC Singers in bold new directions and I can’t wait to see where this partnership will go next.”