BBC Singers

BBC Singers
The BBC Singers is Britain’s only full-time professional chamber choir and a group with an international reputation. Established in 1924, the versatility of this virtuoso 24-voice ensemble is second-to-none, and this flexibility makes the Singers both an important resource in the broadcast music-making of the BBC and a significant presence in British musical life. The BBC Singers’ breadth of repertoire is unsurpassed by any other choral group, singing everything from Renaissance music to the latest contemporary scores, and their unrivalled expertise with the latter has brought about creative relationships with some of the most important composers and conductors of the 20th and 21st centuries. At home on the concert platform as much as in the recording studio, the BBC Singers also regularly work with the BBC’s own orchestras, a wide range of period instrument and contemporary music ensembles, and with a host of internationally-renowned conductors. The group’s rapidly expanding education programme now embraces regular outreach work with school children, youth choirs, the amateur choral community, and young professional composers, singers and conductors. The BBC Singers have a unique place on the British concert scene: a world-class choral ensemble committed to sharing their enthusiasm and creative expertise with audiences and performers, amateurs and professionals, young and old, across the nation and throughout the whole spectrum of the choral community.
Image Credit: 
John Wood

Poole, John


John Poole has given a wide repertoire of choral concerts throughout the world with many and varied organisations.  Especially during his years as Director of the B.B.C Singers he was involved in an enormous output of music of all periods at the highest level.  During these years he regularly conducted choral and orchestral concerts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras in Britain and Europe.  He is a committed advocate of new music and is regularly involved in commissioning new works.  He has a special interest in working in courses and master classes with singers, conductors and composers.

Bradshaw, Susan


Born in Monmouthshire in 1931, Susan Bradshaw studied piano at the Royal Aacdemy of Music with Harold Craxton, and composition with Howard Ferguson and Mátyás Seiber.

Solo pianist, acompanist and chamber musician, she was a lifelong friend of Richard Rodney Bennett, with whom she formed a piano duo while they were both studying with Boulez in Paris. Also during her time in Paris, she founded the Mabillon Trio with flautist William Bennett and oboist Philip Jones. She subsequently formed the Vesuvius Ensemble, initially to perform Pierrot Lunaire with Jane Manning, and was a founder member of the Park Lane Group.

Susan Bradshaw also wrote and broadcast on music, translated Boulez's writings, and taught piano at Goldsmiths College. A keen critic of pretension in music, she together with Hans Keller invented Piotr Zak, an imaginary Polish composer whose work was broadcast on the BBC Third Programme.

Image Credit: 
Royal Philharmonic Society

Manning, Jane


Jane Manning was born in Norwich and studied at the Royal Academy of Music and in Switzerland. In her long career she has covered an exceptionally wide repertoire and has sung at many of the world’s leading Festivals and concert halls, appearing regularly in USA, Australasia and all over Europe as well as London, her home since 1965.Her engagements have included Bach under Karl Richter, Salieri under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, major operatic roles by Mozart, Purcell, Lully, Britten and Kurt Weill and countless BBC broadcasts of the whole range of recital repertoire, as well as many Promenade Concerts .

She is of course especially renowned as an interpreter of contemporary music and has given more than 350 world premieres, working closely with composers such as Bennett, Birtwistle, Boulez, Cage, Carter, Maxwell Davies, Knussen and Weir. Her extensive discography includes, as well as pieces by many British composers, major works by Messiaen, Satie, Berg, Dallapiccola, Schoenberg, and Ligeti.

Image Credit: 
Malcolm Crowthers

The Nash Ensemble

The Nash Ensemble

Artistic Director: Amelia Freedman CBE FRAM

The Nash Ensemble has built up a remarkable reputation as one of Britain's finest chamber groups and, through the dedication of its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman and the virtuosity of its players, has gained a similar reputation all over the world. The repertoire is vast and the imaginative, innovative and unusual programmes are as finely architectured as the beautiful Nash terraces in London from which the group takes its name. Not that the Nash Ensemble is classically restricted; it performs with equal sensitivity and musicality works from Mozart to the avant-garde, having given first performances of over 255 new works to date. These include 150 commissions especially written for the Group, providing a legacy for generations to come. An impressive collection of recordings illustrates the same varied and colourful combination of classical masterpieces, little-known neglected gems and important contemporary works.

The Nash makes many foreign tours: concerts have been given throughout Europe and the USA, and in South America, Australia and Japan. The group is a regular visitor to many British music festivals and can be heard on radio, television, at their renowned annual series at Wigmore Hall as well as at the Southbank Centre and the BBC Proms, and at music clubs throughout the country. The ensemble has won the Edinburgh Festival Critics' music award 'for general artistic excellence', and two Royal Philharmonic Society awards in the small ensemble category 'for the breadth of its taste and its immaculate performance of a wide range of music'.

Image Credit: 
Hanya Chlala/ PAL

Friend, Lionel


Lionel Friend conducts concerts and opera all over the world, exploring the less common together with the most familiar. In the opera house he has become known for his Wagner interpretations, but his repertoire also features Mozart, Schubert, Berlioz, Chausson, Berg, Dallapiccola, Britten, Tippett and Tavener; and his concert repertoire includes the symphonies of Beethoven and Sibelius in addition to works of the avant-garde: he has conducted well over 100 world premiere performances.  His recordings, many made with the Nash Ensemble, include works by Debussy, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Poulenc and Turnage.

Trained in London, he made his debut with Welsh National Opera and has held appointments in Germany and London. In addition to the UK he has in recent seasons conducted in Germany, Norway, Australia and the USA; and since 2003 has held the position of Conductor-in-Residence at the Birmingham Conservatoire.


Image Credit: 
Christian Payne

Jane's Minstrels

Jane's Minstrels

Jane's Minstrels, who made their debut in July 1988 at the Ryedale Festival, were hand-picked from Britain's most gifted young musicians by Jane Manning, and represent an entirely new concept in ensembles, which cuts across barriers of generation and idiom.

Jane's Minstrels swiftly attained an enviable international reputation, acclaimed by press and public. As well as a nomination for one of LEB's 'Brightening-Up London' Awards, their first full season featured 3 London appearances, 2 of them at the South Bank for the SPNM and the Park Lane Group, and a tour of Spain. Engagements at the Aldeburgh Festival and Dartington, and visits to Italy, Denmark Norway and Belgium quickly followed. Their programmes combine contemporary works with classics from the early 20th century, with emphasis on British music.


Anthony Payne: Phoenix Mass

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BBC Singers
The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
/ John Poole conductor
Susan Bradshaw piano
Jane Manning soprano
The Nash Ensemble / Lionel Friend conductor
Jane’s Minstrels

Phoenix Mass, written in 1965, was originally intended for school choir, but rapidly turned into a much bigger and more demanding work, incorporating English as well as Latin Mass texts (notably in the Gloria) and mixing spoken phrases with sung; it's scored, similarly to Stravinsky's Mass, for chorus and brass ensemble. Two other early works are The World's Winter - a chilling Tennyson setting written for soprano Jane Manning and the Nash Ensemble - and Paean, a forceful and virtuosic piano work in three sections. These three works are accompanied by Payne's 2006 Horn Trio, commissioned to celebrate a diamond wedding.


Phoenix Mass, Paean and The World’s Winter have been transferred from LP in the absence of the original masters. The Horn Trio was recorded live for BBC Radio 3


‘Enjoyable sequence of mostly early works…Phoenix Mass, heard in a vivid 1977 recording with the Phillip Jones Brass ensemble. Paean, for piano (Susan Bradshaw), is fiercely constructivist yet compellingly eloquent’ Sunday Times 

'Riveting...a fascinating collection' BBC Music Magazine

‘Il suo linguaggio musicale appare come un tentativo di gettare un pontre tra I compositori inglesi del primo Novecento (Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Edward Elgar, Frank Bridge) e l’avanguardia musicale del secondo dopoguerra’ Golem Informazione

'NMC have done their usual elite job on this CD ... a valuable entry in Payne's discography.' Musicweb International


Produced in association with BBC Radio 3

Supported by the Sosland Foundation


The Ancora Series is supported by Arts Council England


Phoenix Mass, Paean and The World’s Winter were recorded with financial assistance from Arts Council England

Producer: JAMES BURNETT for BBC Transcription Service
Co-ordinator: SYLVIA CARTNER                       

The Horn Trio was recorded for BBC Radio 3 at the Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London on 25 February 2010.

Recording Producer: DAVID PAPP

Digital Editing/ Mastering: ANDREW HALLIFAX
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Cover image & graphic design: FRANCOIS HALL

Produced in association with BBC Radio 3

Phoenix Mass/ Paean/ The World’s Winter (p) 2013 ACE
Horn Trio (p) 2010 BBC
© 2013 NMC Recordings Ltd

Chester Novello
Catalogue number:
NMC D159
Release Date:
6 May 2013