London events. For the first time, National Portrait Gallery visitors and staff will form a choir and perform in a free concert alongside members of Gallery’s professional Portrait Choir at the Gallery’s Late Shift on Friday 4 December. It will be the first public performance by the Gallery’s Staff Choir.
As well as some well-known seasonal works, the choirs, led by Artistic Director Gregory Batsleer, will perform music inspired by the Gallery’s recent highly successful Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon exhibition by way of a medley from the Hepburn-starring My Fair Lady. There will also be music that mirrors the time span of the Gallery’s portraits and will feature works by some of its most renowned musical sitters including Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten and Sir John Tavener.
Filling the Gallery with sound, the choir will sing at two locations with each of the three groups performing a small set alone – before coming together for a finale in the Gallery’s spectacular Regency in the Weldon Galleries.
Following the event, on Sunday 6 December, also at the National Portrait Gallery, The Portrait Choir’s Artistic Director Gregory Batsleer will join Breis, a rapper from Student of Life, to form a youth choir for the day.
The Portrait Choir gave its inaugural concert on Friday 28 June 2013 as part of the Gallery’s Late Shift Friday evening programme and is now celebrating its third year of performances. Spanning music from all periods, the choir is in residence at the National Portrait Gallery at least five times a year and performs a wide repertoire of choral works in gallery spaces that relate to portrait themes, the Collection and the exhibitions programme. While performances by The Portrait Choir are at the core of the residency the Choir also invites visitors, Gallery staff and members of the public to take part in community singing and youth singing days, alongside other collaborations outside the Gallery.
The Portrait Choir is a chamber choir of up to 22 members, its members having either recently finished, or are just completing, their studies at some of Britain’s most prestigious music conservatoires. The Portrait Choir commissions and performs one new work each year.
Ms Pim Baxter, Deputy Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Music at the National Portrait Gallery has made a remarkable journey since the first Friday Evening Music Series performance took place in May 2000. Building on our visitors’ enthusiasm for a weekly programme of music inspired by the Collection and exhibitions, we launched the Portrait Choir just over two years ago and it has gone from strength to strength. To see visitors and staff perform with the Choir is a particularly pleasing and exciting new development.’
Hani Farsi of The Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation says: ‘Supporting the choir over the last three years has allowed an idea to flourish, and music to fill the halls of the National Portrait Gallery. The Portrait Choir commissions have augmented the Gallery exhibitions, and the quality of their performances both at the Gallery and at festivals has been excellent. It is my hope that the choir continues to engage audiences, wherever they perform.’
THE PORTRAIT CHOIR: A CHOIR IN RESIDENCE SHOWCASE. National Portrait Gallery, 4 December 2015, 19:30-20:30. Admission Free.
SUNDAY SESSION: Youth Voice. National Portrait Gallery, 6 December 2015, 11:00-16:00. Free Workshop.