Today, the City of London Choir announces the retirement of esteemed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Hilary Davan Wetton, effective from summer 2023.
The choir, which marks its 60th birthday in 2023, has had just two conductors. Hilary Davan Wetton took over from founder Donald Cashmore in 1989 and the choir has enjoyed Hilary’s musical direction since then. The choir is indebted to Hilary for his inspirational leadership, expertise, energy and enthusiasm throughout his remarkable 33-year tenure.
“Hilary has inspired singers in the CLC for over 30 years with his inimitable musicianship, drive and unrelenting pursuit of excellence,” comments Daniel Mansfield, Chairman, City of London Choir. “I’d like to thank him publicly, on behalf of the choir, for his consummate artistry, dedication and unfailing commitment. He has been instrumental in shaping the CLC’s reputation as one of the best non-professional choirs in the country. We will miss him enormously. But first, we have a packed and exciting schedule together for the next year and a half!”
Commenting on his extensive and artistically rewarding tenure with the City of London Choir, Hilary Davan Wetton said, “I wish the Choir every success in the future. It has been a privilege to work with this special ensemble for over 30 years and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together in that time. The CLC brings joy to its audiences, its members and its conductor. I do not doubt that it will continue to do so for many years to come.”
Vaughan Williams celebrations
Under Hilary’s direction, the CLC has developed a particularly strong reputation for performances and recordings of 20th century English music, including the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams.
For instance, commenting on the performance of Hodie which Hilary directed in the Barbican Hall, the Sunday Telegraph said: “Singing with consoling warmth here, the choir found full-throated power where needed in Hodie… Marshalling the Royal Philharmonic, the boys of Westminster Under School and a trio of soloists along with his well-blended choir, Hilary Davan Wetton was the commanding conductor. I don’t expect to hear better Christmas music this season.” Similarly, his WWI centenary recording of An Oxford Elegy with Jeremy Irons for Naxos was critically acclaimed: “Choir and orchestra are excellent throughout… technically precise and warm of tone” (BBC Music Magazine).
So it is fitting that Hilary’s final 18 months with the choir coincide with the Vaughan Williams 150th anniversary celebrations, with the performance under his baton of a number of Vaughan Williams’s major works this year including the Five Mystical Songs and the rarely performed Benedicite on 10 Marchin the Cadogan Hall, his majestic Sea Symphony on 3 May in the Barbican Hall, the exquisite G Minor Mass at St Giles Cripplegate on 23 June as part of the Summer Music in City Churches Festival, and the anti-war cantata Dona Nobis Pacem in the Cadogan Hall on 10 November.
The focus of Hilary’s final months with the choir will be a farewell performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Barbican in March 2023. Further performances will be announced in the coming months.
For more information about the post of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, please contact Celia Clark at City of London Choir: PR@cityoflondonchoir.org or Jenny Robinson, General Manager: GM@cityoflondonchoir.org