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‘2020 would have been some year for the Vasari Singers, given that it marked our 40th anniversary; much had been planned by way of musical and social celebration. Instead, with only one public appearance in Canterbury Cathedral in February under our belts, COVID-19 struck. The disc that we recorded in October 2019 has therefore assumed ever deeper significance for me and the choir, and has become for us a lone bright light showcasing the very best of British contemporary sacred choral music – thrilling, moving, spiritually uplifting – at a time when choirs across the globe are struggling to make themselves heard.’

Jeremy Backhouse, conductor

Heaven full of Stars
Choral music by
CHILCOTT • DOVE • DUBRA • EŠENVALDS •
GOWERS • JACKSON • McDOWALL • MEALOR •
PANUFNIK • RUTTER • STOPFORD • TODD •
WEIR • WHITACRE

Martin Ford, Organ
Vasari Singers
Jeremy Backhouse

Contemporary sacred choral music has been central to the repertoire of Vasari Singers throughout its existence, and to mark its 40th anniversary it has selected a sequence of anthems, mostly with star-based themes, the vast majority of which are by living composers. The rich variety to be heard reflects the choir’s commitment to the genre, whether in the ecstasy of Ēriks Ešenvalds, the serenity of Jonathan Dove, the shimmering harmonies of Eric Whitacre, or the ethereal beauties of Paul Mealor.

Listen to an extract from Ešenwalds' Stars
About the Artists
Jeremy Backhouse is one of Britain’s leading conductors of amateur choirs. He has been the sole conductor of the Vasari Singers since its inception in 1980 and is committed to contemporary music and to the commissioning of new works, from small anthems to works on the grandest scale. Backhouse has also worked with a number of the UK’s other leading choirs, including the BBC Singers, London Symphony Chorus, Philharmonia Chorus and Brighton Festival Chorus.
Vasari Singers perform a wide range of repertoire, from Renaissance to contemporary. The choir’s extensive discography includes a large collection of premiere recordings, many of which are of works commissioned by the choir, as well as two collections of Christmas music. Many of the choir’s recordings have received high acclaim, achieving chart successes and similar recommendations.
Martin Ford is the organist and director of music at The Guards’ Chapel in London. He read music at Oxford University before continuing his studies at the Royal College of Music. Ford has held organ scholarships at Southwark Cathedral and Magdalen College, Oxford, and has served as assistant organist at St Martin-in-the-Fields and Westminster Abbey, and sub-organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
More recordings featuring Vasari Singers
‘The music on this disc represents the English church music tradition at its finest and the performances are admirable.’
MusicWeb International
8.573030
A Winter’s Light
A Christmas Collection

Vasari Singers • Backhouse
‘The arrangements are sensational and one is in awe before a choir that can turn in magnificent performances of the most serious and taxing works in the repertoire, yet is able to turn its collective hand, with slickness that defies description, to entertaining showstoppers.’
International Record Review
8.573049
JACKSON, G.:
Requiem

Vasari Singers • Backhouse
★★★★★
★★★★
★★★★
★★★★
★★★★
‘This is an excellently sung and moving programme of fine modern music for unaccompanied choir.’
MusicWeb International
8.573111
Choral Music of
Jeremy Filsell and David Briggs

Vasari Singers • Backhouse
★★★★
‘The Vasaris are one of the Sceptered Isle’s better chamber choirs and sound like it in these spirited but elegant performances. The organ playing is stylish and colorful … Naxos clinches the deal with excellent sonics.’
American Record Guide
★★★★★
‘[The choir's] corporate engagement with the music and the overall sound is so tangible in their performance. …the close recording of the full–choir passages supports a warm, broad sound that more than does an English style of justice to those Italianate pieces.’
Gramophone

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