The Netherlands Radio Choir is composed of professionally trained singers with a repertoire from the Renaissance to the present. This versatility is directly related to the choir's role as a broadcasting ensemble and as a partner of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Our mission is to perform, alongside the ‘iron repertoire’, music that is not heard anywhere else, has not been discovered, is in danger of being forgotten or was recently composed. The programmes for the public broadcasting series NTR Saturday Matinee, Vredenburg Friday and the Concertgebouw's Sunday Morning Concert series, in which the Netherlands Radio Choir frequently performs, are living proof. The choir is also a regular participant in special productions of the Holland Festival. Several times each season the choir works with other orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Since its founding in 1947, the Netherlands Radio Choir has built up an impressive record. The choir’s comprehensive repertoire and high quality standards demand a high technical level of the vocalists. The vocalists of the Netherlands Radio Choir distinguish themselves with a combination of high technical quality and a critical but passionate urge to convey to the audience unerringly not just the notes but also all the meaning inherent in them.
The concert series of the public broadcasting system feature the Netherlands Radio Choir in productions that are mostly very demanding and programmes with attention to music that is unknown or undiscovered. These concerts – live or via radio and internet – generally attract a large number of listeners. The press, well represented, is equally enthusiastic: performances have been called 'sublime' and ‘breathtakingly beautiful’.
In music that has fallen into oblivion, such as Walter Braunfels’s Te Deum, ‘the complex, often dangerously exposed part’ as sung by the Netherlands Radio Choir is ‘simply overwhelming’. A work like Anton Bruckner’s ‘Great Mass’ was staged with ‘sincere spirituality’.
The choir’s exceptional reputation for its renderings of contemporary music yields them invitations to perform outside the Netherlands.
A capella singing is ‘the true test of advanced sound culture’, says Michael Gläser, the choir’s principal guest conductor. Each year it is a high point in the Vredenburg Friday series. In the Jacobi Church in Utrecht, the choir’s a capella singing provides proof of its versatility in a kaleidoscopic journey from the Renaissance to the present. The choir also regularly performs a capella in the Saturday Matinee series in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
As off the 2012-2013 season the chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir is Gijs Leenaars. As from September 2010, Michael Gläser has been principal guest conductor. Gijs Leenaars was preceded by Kenneth Montgomery, Robin Gritton, Martin Wright, Simon Halsey and Celso Antunes. Alongside these chief conductors is a choice selection of guest conductors such as Marcus Creed, James Wood, Kaspars Putnins, Sigvards Klava and Stefan Parkman. Together with specialists such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Frans Brüggen, Philippe Herreweghe, Ton Koopman and Jos van Veldhoven the choir applies itself to Baroque and classical music.
In large-scale works for choir and orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Choir has given historic concerts with conductors such as Jean Fournet, Eugen Jochum and Carlo Maria Giulini. One of these historic events was the Dutch premiere in 1964 of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, conducted by the composer himself and Bernard Haitink. Comparable monumental works of Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Poulenc, Elgar and others are brought to life with today’s great maestros, including Jaap van Zweden, Markus Stenz, Paul Gaffigan, Sir Simon Rattle and Mariss Jansons.
Masterclass and sing-along
The Netherlands Radio Choir sees it as its responsibility to play a role in training a new generation of choral conductors. Thanks in part to an initiative of the choir, the Eric Ericsson Masterclass for young choral conductors came into being. This Master Class has been held every other year since 2001. Teachers have included Eric Ericsson himself, Simon Halsey, Uwe Gronostay, Hartmut Haenchen, André Thomas, Martin Wright, Jos van Veldhoven and Michael Gläser.
The choir offers young professional singers an opportunity to gain experience as trainees in numerous productions and organizes highly successful sing-along days once a year for amateur choirs from all around the country.