The Sixteen and Founder & Conductor Harry Christophers CBE are delighted to be continuing to welcome back live in-person audiences in the Autumn 2021 season. The 20th anniversary of the much-loved Choral Pilgrimage, postponed from 2020, travels to 13 more cathedrals and churches across the UK whilst other concerts include music by Handel and a Christmas programme centred around Bob Chilcott’s double choir Advent Antiphons.

Two new albums on The Sixteen’s award-winning label, CORO, are also released: Agnus Dei and Carol of the Bells.

Choral Pilgrimage 20th Anniversary

This year’s tour, The Call of Rome, focuses on the city which has inspired countless pilgrimages, and particularly the Sistine Chapel, where each of the composers featured, Victoria, Josquin, F. Anerio and Allegri, created some of their finest works. All of them had an association with the Chapel at some point during their career, particularly Gregorio Allegri whose Miserere is perhaps the most famous piece of sacred music ever written.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, and to illustrate how many times the Miserere has evolved since its first performances in the Sistine Chapel, Christophers has asked three composers Roxanna PanufnikBob Chilcott and Gabriel Jackson to compose their own versions of the famous soprano line with its top C. At each Choral Pilgrimage concert, a different version will be performed, and the audience will not know whose version it will be until Christophers announces it during the concert.

Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff Wednesday 15 September
Truro Cathedral, Truro Thursday 16 September
Exeter Cathedral, Exeter Friday 17 September
Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbuy Saturday 18 September
Croydon Minster, London Monday 20 September
Rochester Cathedral, Rochester Wednesday 29 September
Southwell Minster, Southwell Thursday 30 September
Blackburn Cathedral, Blackburn Friday 1 October
St James’ Church, Spanish Place London Thursday 7 October
Carlisle Cathedral, Carlisle Wednesday 13 October
Lancaster Priory, Lancaster Thursday 14 October
Durham Cathedral, Durham Friday 15 October
Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh Saturday 16 October

Tickets will go on general sale at 11am on Friday 27 August.

Choral Pilgrimage Films

Today, The Sixteen release two Choral Pilgrimage films. The first is the concert performed at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral in June 2021. It can be watched on YouTube, and will be available to view from 27 September for free, with donations.

The second, The Call of Rome, takes an in depth look at three of the pieces in this year’s Choral Pilgrimage programme, complete with full length performances as well as musical excerpts and explanation from Christophers to set the historical and cultural context of the works. It can be viewed from 13 September, for free on YouTube, as an accompaniment to the above concert and live concerts, as well as something to be enjoyed in its own right.

Music by Handel

The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra perform a selection of Handel’s Chandos Anthems, which he wrote in 1717-18 for the inimitable Duke of Chandos. Despite only having modest musical forces at his disposal these anthems convey immense strength. They stood outside the mainstream of everyday church music, perfectly conveying the self-confident and hedonistic spirit of the time.

Wigmore Hall, London Monday 13 September

The Choir and Orchestra also perform Handel’s Coronation Anthems. One of the composer’s first tasks as a naturalised British Citizen was to write the music for the Coronation of the new monarch – King George II. Rarely did a composer of the day have such an audience for his new works and Handel composed his four Anthems to match the pomp and grandeur of the occasion and the venue – Westminster Abbey.

Chichester Cathedral, Chichester Saturday 23 October
Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden Sunday 7 November
St Albans Cathedral, St Albans Saturday 12 February
Cadogan Hall, London Wednesday 16 February

Tickets for 13 September and 7 November are now on sale. All other tickets will go on general sale at 11am on Friday 3 September.

London Unwrapped

The Sixteen perform a programme that spans the whole of the 16th-century, as part of London Unwrapped; a year-long series that delves into four hundred years of London’s musical past, with its dazzling display and troubling undercurrents, its openness, opportunities and barriers. Court and Chapel (Treasures of Tudor England) features works by Gibbons, Tallis, Byrd, Tye and Thomas Morley.

King’s Place, London Wednesday 17 November

Tickets available from King’s Place.

The Sixteen at Christmas

This year’s The Sixteen at Christmas concerts are centred around Bob Chilcott’s evocative and atmospheric double-choir Advent Antiphons. Anticipating the coming of Christmas, the “0” anitphons were traditionally sung before and after the Magnificat on the seven days preceding Christmas Eve. Alongside these are two stunning settings of the Conditor – the hymn for advent – by Victoria and Guerrero, and The Sixteen’s usual mix of traditional carols and festival favourites.

St David’s Hall, Cardiff Saturday 4 December
Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham Wednesday 8 December
Cadogan Hall, London Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 December
St John the Evangelist, Oxford Friday 17 December

The Sixteen will be performing Handel’s Messiah at St Martin in the Fields on Tuesday 7 December. Arguably the most famous oratorio ever written, Messiah needs little introduction. Composed in a staggering 24 days, and first performed in Dublin in 1742, Messiah is now regarded as Handel’s greatest composition. Tickets will go on sale in early autumn.

For full listings for The Sixteen’s concerts and to book tickets, please visit thesixteen.com/whats-on/

All Choral Pilgrimage performances will offer a mixture of standard and socially-distanced seating whilst the Music by Handel will be sold at full capacity. Face coverings will be encouraged throughout all performances. For further details on the Covid-19 policy for audience members attending performances visit: https://thesixteen.com/our-safety-measures/.

CORO

Agnus Dei, release 3 September

There are certain texts which inspire composers more than others but there is one in particular that has provided sublime music ever since it appeared centuries ago – the Agnus Dei or ‘Lamb of God’ as found in John’s Gospel. This collection from The Sixteen celebrates some of the finest settings from the Renaissance through to the 20th century.

Catalogue number: COR16186

Release date: 3 September, pre-order from 30 July

Carol of the Bellsrelease 1 October

The Sixteen contrasts traditional with contemporary in this collection of festival music. Bob Chilcott’s sumptuous Advent Antiphons based on plainsong melodies anticipate the coming of Christmas and feature alongside traditional carols. Mykola Leontovich’s much-loved Carol of the Bells, Richard Rodney Bennett’s Susanni and Eric Whitacre’s shimmering Lux aurumque complete the programme.

Catalogue number: COR16188

Release date: 1 October, pre-order from 3 September

More details on CORO and The Sixteen’s discography can be found here.