Polyphony was formed by Stephen Layton in 1986 for a concert in King's College Chapel, Cambridge. Since then the choir has performed and recorded regularly to critical acclaim throughout the world. Recent reviews declare Polyphony 'one of the best small choirs now before the public' (Daily Telegraph) and 'possibly the best small professional chorus in the world' (Encore Magazine, USA).
For more than a decade Polyphony has given annual sell-out performances of Bach's St John Passion and Handel's Messiah at St John's Smith Square. These have become notable events in London's music calendar and have been broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and the EBU. According to the Evening Standard 'no one but no one performs Handel's Messiah better every year than the choir Polyphony', and the Times 'would rate it among the finest John Passions I have ever heard'.
Polyphony's performance highlights include several BBC Proms, among them Arvo Pärt's Passio, and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, regular festival performances, most recently at Aldeburgh and at the RTE Living Music Festival in Dublin, and numerous première performances. These include works by John Tavener in honour of his 60th birthday as part of the Barbican's Great Performers series, and works by Arvo Pärt and Pawel Lukaszewski.
Other broadcast highlights have been performances of works by Poulenc, Rautavaara, Tormis, Britten and Grainger for BBC Radio 3, works by Arvo Pärt for RTE, and an EBU broadcast of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Performances abroad include concerts in France, Spain, Brazil, Denmark and Hungary.
Polyphony's extensive discography on Hyperion encompasses works by Britten, Bruckner, Cornelius, Grainger, Grieg, Jackson, Lauridsen, Lukaszewski, MacMillan, Pärt, Poulenc, Rutter, Tavener, Walton, and Whitacre. The CD of Britten, Sacred and Profane, won a Gramophone Award and a Diapason d'Or in 2001, and the choir's première recording of works by Arvo Pärt, Triodion, was Best of Category (Choral) at the 2004 Gramophone Awards. Polyphony also received Gramophone Award nominations in 2002 for the Walton CD, and in 2008 for Poulenc's Gloria, described by Gramophone Magazine as 'a performance of real distinction … simply incredible'.
In the USA, Polyphony's recordings have twice been nominated for Grammy Awards: in 2006 for Lux aeterna, a disc of works by Morten Lauridsen, and in 2007 for a CD of works by Eric Whitacre, Cloudburst. This 'staggering disc' (BBC Radio 3) spent more than fifty weeks in the Billboard Classical Album Chart, and has been hailed by the Times as 'extraordinarily beautiful', by CNN as 'outstanding', and by Classic FM Magazine as 'unmissable'.
Polyphony's latest release is Lukaszewski's Via Crucis with Britten Sinfonia, described as 'exquisitely sung' (The Guardian), and 'delivered with passionate, almost frightening intensity … from Polyphony under Stephen Layton's inspired direction one expects no less' (International Record Review).
For further information or to join Polyphony’s mailing list, please visit www.polyphony.co.uk