Described by the Observer newspaper as “a contemporary hero of British choral music”, Bob Chilcott has always been immersed in the choral tradition of his country. He sang as a chorister and choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, and after singing professionally in London and also as a member of the vocal group the King’s Singers for 12 years, he became a full-time composer in 1997. He has embraced his career with energy and commitment, not only producing a large catalogue of music for all types of choirs, but also working with singers and choirs in more than 30 countries.
It was perhaps through his many works for young singers that he first came to prominence as a composer, prompting some large-scale performances of his pieces. Can you hear me? was performed in Vancouver in 2001 by 2000 singers and later at the Estonian Song Festival in 2004 with 7000 young singers. This led to several other large-scale projects including The Angry Planet, written for David Hill and The Bach Choir for the 2012 BBC Proms, which was performed by The Bach Choir, The National Youth Choir of Great Britain, The BBC Singers and 200 primary school children from London.
He has written a number of substantial sacred works including Salisbury Vespers (2009), St John Passion (2013) for Wells Cathedral Choir, and his Requiem (2010), which has now been performed in over 16 countries. In 2013 he wrote The King shall rejoice for the service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In June 2014 he began an 18-month term as composer-in-residence for the Washington DC-based choir Choralis as part of their 15th anniversary season celebrations. The season features a number of his works, including Salisbury Vespers, and concludes with the première of Gloria in December 2015.
Over the past 18 years Bob has worked with many thousands of singers in Britain through a continuing series of Singing Days throughout the country. Between 1997 and 2004 he was conductor of the choir of The Royal College of Music in London, and since 2002 he has been Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Singers.
His music has been recorded extensively and there are a number of albums dedicated to his music, including Man I Sing (2007), Making Waves (2008), Requiem (2012), The Seeds of Stars (2012), Everyone Sang (2013), The Rose in the Middle of Winter (2013), St John Passion and The Angry Planet (2015) and Sun, Moon Sea and Stars (2016). His music has been recorded by many leading British choirs and ensembles including The Sixteen, The Cambridge Singers, Tenebrae, The BBC Singers, The Choir of Wells Cathedral, The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and The King’s Singers.