Exciting new CD release for Choir of King's College London 

kcl choir

The Choir of King’s College London has been busy recording their new CD, Brahms's An English Requiem. This is the popular English translation of Brahms's German Requiem, which premiered in London in 1871.

We spoke to Director of the Choir of King’s College London, Dr Joseph Fort, to find out more.

Dr. Joseph Fort

Tell us the story of the Choir of King’s College London.

There has been a choir at King's since the building of the Strand chapel in the 1860s. Back then, it was conducted by E. H. Monk, who is perhaps best known for composing the hymn Abide with me. Over the last 60 years, the choir was formalised and honed into the flagship ensemble that we now know – one of the country's leading collegiate choirs.

Our raison d'être is to provide music for the weekly chapel Evensong and Eucharist, as well as for special services over the academic year. On top of this, we also broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3, and perform concerts and tour.

 What have some choral scholars gone on to achieve?

All sorts of things! A few recent musical success stories that come to mind are: Anna Stephany, who stars regularly in many of the European opera houses, including the Royal Opera House; Jonathan McGovern, who recently sang at the BBC Proms; and James Way, who recently won second prize at the Kathleen Ferrier competition at Wigmore Hall.

kcl choir closeup

Tell us about Brahms’s Requiem.

The Requiem is a truly wonderful piece. The version where an orchestra is replaced by four-hands piano – a duet where two players play on a single piano – is known as the 'London' version. It was first performed in this form over in Wimpole Street. Brahms simply wanted the Requiem to speak to as many people as possible in an English setting.

What can people expect from this recording?

People should expect to be surprised by this recording! This isn't how we are used to hearing the Brahms Requiem. Normally it is performed in German by a massive choir and full orchestra. We do it in English, with a thirty-voice choir and pianists.

Hopefully this will make people think: as a university choir, our performances should not just move people – they should make them think. If this version sounds unorthodox to us now, but was normal in the nineteenth century, what has changed about our musical expectations?

choir inside chapel

What exciting plans have you got for the Choir of King’s College London?

Immediate plans include our Advent Carols services, followed by our annual concert at the St John's Smith Square Christmas Festival.

Plans for the spring term include performances at the London Handel Festival and the Tenebrae Holy Week Festival, as well as a new recording.

Brahms: An English Requiem is available to buy on CD from the King’s College London eStore, £15.00

Fancy winning a copy of the CD?

Complete the form below to be in with a chance of winning a CD in time for Christmas.

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