The Clothworkers Consort of Leeds (formerly Leeds University Liturgical Choir) was formed in 2001 by Bryan White, Stephen Muir and Philip Wilby as a chamber choir which included the performance of sacred choral music in liturgical settings as one of its important aims. Since that time, the choir has developed into one of the finest choral ensembles in the north of England. The choir performs at services and gives concerts; it has also collaborated with a range of professional ensembles including Fretwork, QuintEssential Sackbut and Cornett Ensemble, Skipton Camerata and Leeds Baroque Orchestra.
In February 2009 the choir gave two performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to capacity audiences at Temple Newsam House. The opera was produced by Jack Edwards (Opera Restor’d) and the principal roles were drawn from the choir. In June 2009 the choir joined with Rambert Dance Company and London Musici for premiere performances of Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light at The Grand Theatre in Leeds.
The Clothworkers Consort has previously sponsored an annual choral composition competition, funded by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Winners in recent years include ‘Inscription for a wayside spring’ (Wayland Rogers, 2008) and ‘Gabriel fram Hevene-King’ (Terry Mann, 2007), the latter of which has recently been published by Oxford University Press in the collection The Holly and The Ivy: 14 Contemporary Carols.
The choir has performed in a variety of prestigious venues throughout the UK (St. Paul’s London, York Minster, Bath Abbey, Shrewsbury Abbey, Bristol, Chester, Chichester, Durham, Ely, Hereford, Leeds, Lichfield, Lincoln, Norwich, Salisbury, Truro, Wakefield, Wells, and Worcester Cathedrals, the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds), and has participated in the Beverly Early Music Festival and the Pennine Spring Music Festival. It also tours abroad, travelling to Prague, Czech Republic (2005 & 2016) , Poland (2005 & 2011), Rhineland Germany (2007) Mantua, Italy (2009) and Budapest, Hungary (2013). The choir has recorded three CDs: Songs of Praise: Music from the West Riding (2004), Vox Dei (2006), and No Man is and Island (2008). The choir appeared on Corinne Bailey Rae’s second album, The Sea (2010), and has recorded the title music (by Stephen Kilpatrick) for Michelle Lipton’s play Amazing Grace, broadcast on BBC Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour (2010).
In 2013 the choir celebrated the Britten Centenary with performances of A Hymn to St Cecilia and A Boy was Born. It has performed for three times at the International Medieval Congress, and it works regularly with the Skipton Building Society Camerata, including in 2015 for the first modern performance of Philip Hayes’s The Judgment of Hermes (1783), and Bach’s St Matthew Passion in April 2019. In 2016 the choir participated in the Performing the Jewish Archive project with concerts in Leeds, York and Prague; and in 2017, CCL made its Wigmore Hall debut in a programme of Music on the Brink of Destruction, subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3. In May 2017 the choir celebrated its 15th anniversary with a reunion concert in the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall. In March 2018 the choir joined with the Leeds Haydn Players for a performance of Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli and will join them for another concert in June 2020.
Our regular rehearsal time is Tuesday, 5.00-7.00pm in the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall at the University of Leeds.
Bryan took his undergraduate degree at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX), where he studied choral conducting with Lloyd Pfautsch and Barbara Brinson. He completed a PhD at the University of Wales, Bangor; he is a member of the Purcell Society editorial committee, a a scholar whose research focuses on English music of the Restoration period. He has recently published Music for St Cecilia’s Day from Purcell to Handel. He has performed as a baritone soloist in the United States and in Great Britain, and at Leeds he is a member of the Leeds Baroque Choir and of Psalmody.
Bryan directs the Clothworkers Consort of Leeds, whose repertoire ranges from the earliest English choral polyphony (the choir performed concerts of music from the Eton Choirbook at the International Medieval Congress in 2011 and 2014) to newly composed works. He has recorded three CDs with the choir: Songs of Praise: Music in the West Riding (2004); Vox Dei (2006) and No man is an Island (2008). He also works regularly with the Leeds University School of Music Choir; performances have included James Macmillan’s Cantos Sagrados, Andrew Carter’s No Man is an Island and Gerald Finzi’s Lo, the full, final sacrifice at the Leeds Town Hall, William Mathias’ Ceremony after a Fire Raid, and a programme of contemporary a cappella music by Finnish composers including Einojuhani Rautavaara and Jakko Mäntyjärvi. Other work with this choir has included Tippett’s Child of our Time, Elgar’s Caractacus, Parry’s The Lotus-Eaters and Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgis Nacht.
Bryan has also worked as chorus master in the revivals of several neglected operas, including the School of Music’s productions of Louis Spohr’s Pietro von Abano (2009) and Salieri’s Les Danaïdes (2011).
Born in Zambia in 1972, Stephen gained a BMus (1994) and PhD (2000) in Music from Birmingham University. He is now a freelance singer, associated with the Davies Music agency (www.daviesmusic.com), and Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Leeds, specialising in Performance, 19th-century Russian and Czech music, and Jewish liturgical music.
He has studied singing with Alastair Thompson and Bridget Budge, percussion with Evelyn Glennie, and conducting with George Hurst, and has worked extensively as a professional musician in the West Midlands and Yorkshire, including recordings and broadcasts for Radio 3 and Classic FM as a tenor soloist, and as a percussionist with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
Solo roles have included a number of modern-day British and world operatic premieres—Anton Eberl’s Die Königin der schwarzen Inseln (Shah Kosru), Schubert’s Die Freunde von Salamanka (Alonso), J. C. Bach’s Amadis de Gaule (Amadis), J. F. Lampe’s Margery; or, a Worse Plague than the Dragon (Moore of Moore Hall), and Antonín Dvořák’s Tvrdé palice (Toník). He appears throughout the North of England as a tenor soloist, performing for a wide and diverse range of ensembles, including Leeds Baroque under the direction of Peter Holman. He is Technical Director of Leeds University Centre for Historically-Informed Performance (LUCHIP) and Assistant Director of The Clothworkers Consort of Leeds.