Jeremy Backhouse is one of Britain’s leading choral conductors. He began his musical career in Canterbury Cathedral where he was Senior Chorister. In 1980 he was appointed Music Editor at the RNIB, where he was responsible for the transcription of print music into Braille. He has worked for both EMI Classics and later Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers, but now pursues his career as a freelance conductor.
Jeremy has been the sole conductor of the internationally-renowned chamber choir, Vasari Singers since its inception in 1980. Since winning the prestigious Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year competition in 1988, the Vasari Singers has performed regularly on the South Bank and at major concert venues in London, as well as in many of the cathedrals and abbeys of the UK. Jeremy and the Vasari Singers broadcast frequently on Classic FM, BBC Radios 3 and 4, and have a discography of over 25 CDs on the EMI, Guild, Signum, Naxos and Vasari Media labels.
Recordings with the Vasari Singers have been nominated for a Gramophone award (Howells and Frank Martin), received two Gramophone Editor’s Choice awards (Marcel Dupré choral works), a top recommendation on Radio 3’s ‘Building A Library’ (Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor), and two recent CDs (Gabriel Jackson’s Requiem and A Winter’s Light, a disc of Christmas carols) both achieved Top Ten status in the Specialist Classical Charts. Their recording of Rachmaninov’s ‘All-Night Vigil’ was released to great critical acclaim in October 2017 on their own Vasari Media label.
“There’s no questioning the care & sensitivity of Jeremy Backhouse’s approach… it reaches the very heart of these deeply moving works.”
In January 1995, Jeremy was appointed Music Director of the Vivace Chorus (then the Guildford Philharmonic Choir). Alongside the standard classical works, Jeremy has conducted the Vivace Chorus in some ambitious programmes including Howells’ Hymnus Paradisi and Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony (No. 2), Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible, then Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ (No. 8) and Verdi’s Requiem in the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In May 2017, they gave the world premiere performance of their latest commission, Cantus Maris by Francis Pott, in the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
He is totally committed to contemporary music and to the commissioning of new works. He and Vasari have commissioned over 25 new works; this enthusiasm has spread to the Vivace Chorus who, in May 2009, commissioned and performed the premiere of local composer Will Todd’s Te Deum, and to the Salisbury Community Choir who have commissioned several works from leading British composers.
In January 2009 Jeremy took up the post of Music Director of the Salisbury Community Choir. His first major engagement with them was the opening concert of that year’s Salisbury International Arts Festival, in Salisbury Cathedral, premiering a vast new work by Bob Chilcott entitled the Salisbury Vespers. In 2013 the choir celebrated its 21st Anniversary with a major concert in Salisbury Cathedral in October, featuring the world premiere of a specially-commissioned community work by Will Todd, The City Garden, which in subsequent years they toured to Lincoln (2014) and Guildford (2015) cathedrals. A commission for a major new work from Alexander L’Estrange is planned for November 2018.
Jeremy has also worked with a number of the country’s leading choirs, including the BBC Singers, the Philharmonia Chorus, the London Chorus and the Brighton Festival Chorus. For 6 years, to the end of 2004, Jeremy was the Music Director of the Wooburn Singers, in succession to Richard Hickox and Stephen Jackson.
For updated information including latest performances, please visit Jeremy’s site at www.jeremybackhouse.com.