Firmly established as one of the UK's leading chamber orchestras, City of London Sinfonia (CLS) was founded in 1971 by the late Richard Hickox and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Led by Stephen Layton (Artistic Director & Principal Conductor) and Michael Collins (Principal Conductor), the Orchestra has earned a reputation for strong, distinctive programming, outstanding performances and recordings, and a passion for music featuring the voice.
Performing throughout the UK and abroad, CLS makes regular appearances at all the major London concert halls and venues, as well as St Paul's Cathedral and other venues in the City of London. It has been resident orchestra at the capital's popular Opera Holland Park since 2004 and holds a long-standing residency in High Wycombe, as well as being a regular guest at major UK festivals. In addition the Orchestra performs lively Crash, Bang, Wallop! family concerts offering young listeners an exciting and interactive introduction to classical music.
CLS has made over one hundred recordings including a series of operas by Benjamin Britten on the Chandos label and won a Grammy Award for Best Opera for its recording of Peter Grimes.
Extending their innovative reach and approach, CLS musicians deliver professional skills training for corporate businesses, offering a creative approach to supporting achievement and performance. Founded in 2000, Development through Music is a pioneering programme and one of the first of its kind in the country.
Richard Hickox was one of the most active and well-known conductors in Britain, with a strong international reputation, especially for performing music of his native country. He began conducting at the age of 16 and, after studies at the Royal College of Music and Queen's College, where he was an organ scholar, he founded the City of London Sinfonia in 1971, of which he remained musical director until his death.
In 1972 he became organist and master of music at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, remaining in that position until 1982. In 1977 he was appointed conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and in 1982 became the music director of the Northern Sinfonia in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He is credited with re-establishing that orchestra as an ensemble of stature, confirmed by a highly successful tour of the United States and a complete Beethoven symphony recording cycle for the ASV label. He was associate conductor of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1985, and took the same title at the London Symphony Orchestra in 1985. He shared leadership duties with Simon Standage for Collegium Musicum 90, a period-instrument group the two founded.
All this activity made Hickox a very familiar face on the British music scene. With his various choral and orchestral ensembles he frequently appeared at the major British music festivals and at the BBC Proms Concerts. He participated in several notable special projects, including a BBC video production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and an appearance in the Istanbul Festival leading a production of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio inside the actual sultans' seraglio in the Topkapi Museum. He also provided music for a Ken Russell film for the BBC on the wives of great composers.
He guest conducted around the world, including frequent appearances with the Los Angeles Opera and the New Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo. He made over 300 recordings and won numerous awards, including a Gramophone Award in 1992 for his account of Britten's War Requiem, and three Gramophone Awards, a Diapason d'Or, the Deutsche Schalplattenpreis, and a Grammy for his recording of Britten's Peter Grimes in 1995 on the Chandos label, probably the most honored classical recording of the last quarter of the twentieth century. His recordings appeared on the ASV, Argo, EMI, and Virgin labels, and in the early '90s he had been an exclusive Chandos artist. More recording awards were received in 2001 and 2006 for the music of Vaughan Williams and Stanford, respectively. In 2005, he was appointed director of the Opera Australia. Hickox died of a heart attack following a recording session in Wales in November 2008.
- MP3 DOWNLOAD£5.99
After the Rain, for string orchestra, draws on Max Ernst's disturbing painting Europe After the Rain - depicting the bleak remains of a landscape left after some inexplicable catastrophe - within a work of remarkable strength and optimism.
"A fascinating new work receives a fine interpretation from Richard Hickox."
BBC Music Magazine 1993
Recording date: 10 May 1992
Recording venue: All Saints' Church, Petersham
Engineers: Tryggvi Tryggvason, Andrew Hallifax
Producer: Colin Matthews
Editing & mastering: Marian Freeman
Cover image: Francois Hall
(P) 1993 NMC Recordings Ltd