York European

the leader of the choir at the university

French programme for new musical director of York University Choir!

Robert Hollingworth has just been appointed musical director of York University Choir, following the retirement of Peter Seymour who had conducted the choir for many years. Robert, who moved to York in 2012, is a member of the university’s Music Department and a vocal specialist. He has a professional performing career, notably leading the vocal ensemble I Fagiolini and directing the annual Stour Music Festival. During the Lockdowns Robert produced a series of wonderfully witty video recordings entitled ‘Sing the Score’ exploring different musical genres in an extremely accessible manner.

For his first concert as the new director, Robert has plumped for an all-French programme. He says that French is his favourite language to sing in as it is so expressive, and his first term’s programme will feature the Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, composed between 1887 and 1890 and one of the composer’s most popular works, characterised by its serene nature and sublime melodies.

the choir at the university

Also included in the programme will be Fauré’s delightful Cantique de Jean Racine which was composed when Fauré was only 19 years old and still a student. He won First Prize in Composition for the piece.


Robert is keen to promote women composers and has also chosen Lili Boulanger’s Pie Jesu for this first concert. Boulanger was a child prodigy. Fauré, a family friend, is said to have discovered she had perfect pitch at the age of two. She suffered from chronic illness and tragically died at the age of just 24 in 1918, dictating Pie Jesu to her sister Nadia on her deathbed.

the leader of the choir at the university

The Fauré concert will be held in St Lawrence’s Church on 1st December 2021. Membership of York University Choir is open to the university’s students and staff, and by audition to those outside the university. Rehearsals are held on Mondays in term time from 7.30-9.30pm in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, Heslington, York. Registration and auditions this term will be held on 27th September and the first rehearsal will be on 4th October 2021. Details from Membership Secretary Catherine Duncan (university-choir@york.ac.uk).

the leader of the choir at the university

reported by Christine Kyriacou