The Tallis Scholars
The Tallis Scholars were founded in 1973 by director Peter
Phillips. Through its recordings and concert performances, the ensemble has established
itself as the leading exponent of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world. Mr.
Phillips has worked with the ensemble to create the purity and clarity of sound that best
serves the Renaissance repertoire, allowing every detail of the musical lines to be heard.
The Tallis Scholars perform in both sacred and secular venues, usually giving approximately
70 concerts around the globe each year. During the 2014-2015 season, the ensemble tours the
US, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Europe, and the UK.
The Tallis Scholars' career highlights have included a tour of China in 1999, including
two concerts in Beijing, and the privilege of performing in the Sistine Chapel in April
1994 to mark the final stage of the complete restoration of the Michelangelo frescoes. The
ensemble has commissioned many contemporary composers during its history: In 1998, it
celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special concert in London's National Gallery,
premiering a Sir John Tavener work written for the group and narrated by Sting. An
additional performance of the piece was given with Sir Paul McCartney in New York in
Recordings by The Tallis Scholars have received many awards throughout the world. In 1987,
the group's recording of Josquin's Missa La sol fa re mi and Missa Pange
lingua received Gramophone magazine's Record of the Year honor-the first
recording of early music ever to win this coveted award. In 1989, the ensemble won two
Diapason d'Or awards for its recordings of a mass and motets by Lassus and of two
masses by Josquin. A recording of Palestrina's Missa Assumpta est Maria and
Missa Sicut lilium was awarded Gramophone's Early Music Award in 1991.
The Scholars received the 1994 Early Music Award for a recording of music by Cipriano de
Rore and the same distinction again in 2005 for a disc of music by John Browne. The group
was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2001, 2009, and 2010, and in November 2012, a recording
of Josquin's Missa De beata virgine and Missa Ave maris stella received a
Diapason d'Or. In 2013, The Tallis Scholars were welcomed into the
Gramophone Hall of Fame by public vote.
Peter Phillips has dedicated his life's work to the research and
performance of Renaissance polyphony. Having won a scholarship to Oxford in 1972, Mr.
Phillips studied Renaissance music with David Wulstan and Denis Arnold, and gained
experience in conducting small vocal ensembles. He founded The Tallis Scholars in 1973 and
has now appeared in almost 2,000 concerts and made more than 60 recordings with the
ensemble, encouraging interest in polyphony all over the world.
Apart from his appearances with The Tallis Scholars, Mr. Phillips continues to work with
other specialist ensembles. He has appeared with the BBC Singers, Collegium Vocale Gent,
and Netherlands Chamber Choir. He is currently working with Belgium's Namur Chamber Choir,
Moscow's Intrada vocal ensemble, Musica Reservata of Barcelona, and Oviedo's El León de
Oro. Mr. Phillips gives numerous master classes and choral workshops around the world each
year and is also artistic director of the Tallis Scholars Summer Schools, annual choral
courses based in Uppingham (UK), Seattle, and Sydney that are dedicated to exploring the
heritage of Renaissance choral music and developing an appropriate performance style. In
2014, he launched the London International A Cappella Choir Competition at St John's Smith
Square, attracting choirs from all over the world.
In addition to conducting, Mr. Phillips is well known as a writer. For 32 years, he has
contributed a regular music column (as well as one, more briefly, on cricket) to The
Spectator. In 1995, he became owner and publisher of The Musical Times, the
oldest continuously published music journal in the world. His first book, English
Sacred Music 1549-1649, was published by Gimell Records in 1991, while his second,
What We Really Do: The Tallis Scholars, an unblinking account of what touring is
like alongside insights about the make-up and performance of polyphony, was published in
2003 and revised in 2013.
Mr. Phillips has recently been appointed a Reed Rubin Director of Music and a Bodley
Fellow at Merton College, University of Oxford. In 2005, he was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre
des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture.