is a chamber choir founded in 1948 by members of the university for
“the study and practice of Choral music in order to foster public knowledge and appreciation
of such music by means of public performance.” (from our Constitution).
The initial group of professional and semi-professional singers wished to
encourage and promote the highest standards of singing and music making in
Leeds, and the Guild has maintained a close relationship with the Music
Department at Leeds University, many of its conductors being on the staff of
the University, and rehearsing in the Clothworker's Hall there. The number of
singers varies between 20 and 30 though our constitution allows up to 40. We
usually have at least some who are semi-professional and many are graduates of
music degrees but we're mostly gifted (i.e. we do have auditions) amateur. We
pride ourselves on a light flexible pure sound, and rapid turnover of
The Guild gives up to 10 concerts each season, mainly in Yorkshire, often for
charity, but has performed in venues including Fountains Abbey, Ripley Castle,
Cartmel Priory, St Cuthbert's, Wells and in 2007 at the Royal Scottish Academy
of Music & Drama, Glasgow, as well as major venues around Leeds, including the
Royal Armouries, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, Leeds Cathedral and
Leeds Parish Church (now Leeds Minster).
The choir has always taken an enterprising approach to its performances,
commissioning and performing a number of new works, including Songs from Mount
Grace by Philip Wilby in 1998 for the choir's Jubilee celebrations (dedicated
to the memory of Joan Balmforth, for many years the leading light of the
choir) and by the director, and performing jointly with local and national
instrumental ensembles. Repertoire ranges widely across 7 centuries, sacred
and secular, serious and light, including a number of first performances, for
example the choir's visit to Hexham Abbey in June 2008 to present a new
performing edition (by the director) of Cavalli's Vespers (1656), a major work
on a par with Monteverdi's great 1610 Vespers, with Baroque orchestra.
The Philip Wilby Choral Library
in Leeds University's Music Department,
holds our collection of scores,
part of the Leeds University Choral Expertise and Attainment
(LUCEAT) Network, which means your choir may
be able to borrow copies of any music we perform.
The library is searchable here.
The Director of Music, Joseph Judge
director of the Hallé Choral Academy, and Founder of Turton Consort, he also
holds a number of positions around the North West. He was one of eight
inaugural Fellows of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (2015/16),
performing as part of an elite vocal octet throughout the UK and in Malta,
Shanghai and Hong Kong. He frequently performs as a soloist, and works with UK
ensembles such as Westminster Abbey Choir and Armonico Consort. He has
participated in masterclasses given by James Gilchrist, Harry Christophers
CBE, and Lucy Schaufer.