The Choir

One of London’s leading chamber choirs, The Purcell Singers was formed in 1994 by conductor and organist Mark Ford. We have performed extensively in London venues including St James’s Piccadilly, Southwark and St Paul’s Cathedrals and St John’s Smith Square, as well as outside London at the Brighton, Hurst and Howden Festivals, St Alban’s Cathedral and at the Langen Festival in Frankfurt. In May 2011 the choir was awarded ‘Best Classical Performance’ at the Brighton Festival. The choir’s President is Sarah Walker CBE.

Our repertoire is wide, ranging from Gibbons to Tavener, via Bach, Howells, Poulenc, Barber and Britten, and we have developed a particular reputation for championing unusual late romantic works, notably those of the German composer Georg Schumann.

The choir has so far recorded four classical albums, including two première discs of works by Georg Schumann, the first of which was Gramophone Magazine’s Critics’ Choice in January 2002, and the second also described as a “hugely impressive disc” (Gramophone). Our recordings have been frequently broadcast on the radio, and we have appeared on television.

We are also active in session work, and can be heard on the cast album of Mary Poppins (the original West End production). We have recorded several discs for film and television at Angel Studios, as well as numerous film trailers at Abbey Road and Air Studios. You may recognise some of these tracks from the trailers for films such as King Kong, War of the Worlds, The Island, The Da Vinci Code, and Spider-man 3. More recently we recorded Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Madagascar 2 and some numbers for the West End production of Flashdance – The Musical.


Photo: Adriano Scognomillo

Photo: Adriano Scognomillo

The Conductor

Mark Ford was born in Bromley and educated at St Dunstan’s College, Catford, where he studied the organ with the international recitalist David Sanger. He continued his academic and musical studies at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he held an Organ Scholarship and read law. Whilst at Cambridge, Mark directed the Chapel Choir (whom he accompanied on tours to Bavaria and Ireland), as well as the college Choir and Orchestra, and sang in the University Chamber Choir under Timothy Brown.

He founded The Purcell Singers in 1994 and has directed them in concerts of wide-ranging music from the fifteenth century to the present day. With the choir he has also made four classical CD recordings, as well as ten commercial recordings of music for film and television. He has conducted sessions at all the major London recording studios.

Mark has carried out extensive research into the music of the late romantic composer Georg Schumann, and has recorded all of Schumann’s choral works with The Purcell Singers. He plans to release recordings of some of his other works in the future, including the composer’s piano music and songs.

By profession, Mark is a solicitor. He is a leading authority on legal process outsourcing and previously built a team of 60 lawyers in a pioneering business unit in his firm's Delhi office. Mark is currently Chief Knowledge Officer at a major US law firm and leads a team of more than 250 knowledge management professionals across the world.


Associate Conductor

Jonathan Schranz is a freelance conductor based in London. He studied choral conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, winning prizes in both years, and read music at Churchill College, Cambridge, graduating with first class honours in 2015. Jonathan enjoys a diverse career ranging from leading choral workshops in high security prisons to performing at private functions with his funk band, The Handlers. He is musical director at Brentwood Choral Society, St John at Hackney Church, Grant Thornton Office Choir, and is founding director of a number of his own groups including the Fisher Consort and Graduale. In addition Jonathan leads workshops for the Royal School of Church Music and works as a section leader for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. Jonathan is grateful to the following organisations for their generous support: The Royal College of Organists, the Richard Syred Music Fund, the Stanley Vann Scholarship Trust, the John Wates Charitable Trust and the Michael James Music Trust.

The role of the Associate Conductor is to assist the Director of Music in rehearsing and preparing the choir, programming and conducting concerts and observing studio recording sessions. The Associate Conductor also assists in the selection process for choir members and participates in meetings of the choir committee.



How to book the choir

To book the choir for your event, please contact our administrator, John Slack, at john@purcellsingers.org.

The Purcell Singers have been delighting audiences for nearly 25 years. The choir performs several concerts every year as well as attending festivals and undertaking tours.

We always try to reflect a specific theme in our programmes, so a performance by The Purcell Singers is far more than your average concert. We’ll take you on a tour through English music or introduce you to a long-neglected work.

Whatever’s on the programme though, you can be sure it will be executed with talent, sensitivity and great musicality! Just take a look at our Reviews…


How to join the choir

Would you like to join the Purcell Singers? Vacancies arise from time to time and membership will offer you the opportunity to take part in concerts in venues across London, make high-profile recordings and become part of a friendly and talented group of musicians.

If you would like to arrange an audition, you can fill in the contact form, or email our administrator, John Slack, at john@purcellsingers.org.


FAQs

How many members does the choir have?

The Purcell Singers is made up of many professional and experienced singers, not all of whom perform in every concert. A choir of varying size will be formed depending on the requirements of the repertoire and can be anything from 16 to 60 strong, but averages around 35 for most performances.

Do I need to be an experienced singer?

Most of our concerts only have five or six rehearsal dates (or less) to prepare, so yes, previous experience in a choir and good sight-reading is essential. You will also be asked to audition.

What will the audition require?

Normally you will be asked to sing one prepared piece (accompaniment will be provided) and undertake a small amount of sight-reading. Your range will also be tested so we can have some idea of which part will be best suited to you.

Does the choir socialise?

Yes! We normally go for drinks after rehearsals and concerts. As the choir is only formed a month or so before each concert, you may well meet someone different every time you sing! Most of the Purcell Singers are also involved in other choirs in and around London, so you may well see some familiar faces.

Where and when do you rehearse?

Usually on a weekday evening from 7-9.30pm in a church in the City of London. We don’t have regular rehearsals on a particular day, but usually just meet in the 3 weeks or so leading up to a concert.

How many concerts do you perform each year?

It depends, but typically we manage at least two, and/or a recording and a tour.