Largest Choral Ensemble Ever?
September 21, 2014 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Back in possibly the mid-to late 80's, or early 90's at the latest, I caught a bit of a program on television about a choral piece of classical music, which at the time was being billed as sung by (faulty memory may apply here) the largest choral ensemble ever assembled. It's also possible that it was the combination of symphonic musicians + chorus equalled the largest group assembled for a piece of choral music.

The piece of music was by a (then) contemporary composer, who I believe was conducting his own composition he'd written for this massive gathering of voices. I seem to recall him being interviewed on the TV special that was broadcasting the show. Probably PBS? Seems like a PBS sort of thing. My memory is also that it was pretty powerful and awesome. Help me track it down?
posted by Devils Rancher to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
 
Your post brought to mind the 'Virtual Choir' project led by composer Eric Whitacre, but that was five years ago, not in the '80s or '90s.
posted by DandyRandy at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2014


Could it have been a performance of Havergal Brian’s Gothic symphony?
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2014


It's just possible that it was a broadcast about the 1980 performance of The Gothic -- I hadn't heard of that, but I'm intrigued by it, nonetheless. There was definitely video of the performance, as well as some interview of the conductor, who I took at the time to also be the composer, though I could be wrong. The wiki for the Gothic notes that the '66 performance was broadcast, but it seems to me the production values were more modern, though it could have been a re-broadcast, or expansion upon that performance. Does anyone know if that 1966 broadcast is available for consumption anywhere?

Amazon lists this CD of The Gothic -- worth buying?
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2014


This is not what you're looking for because it's certainly not contemporary music, but if you're interested in massive choirs YouTube has clips from an event in Cardiff in 1993 with an 8000+ man choir. (The internet suggests there was such an event in 1992 and 1993.)
posted by hoyland at 2:38 PM on September 21, 2014


I can’t pass judgement on the CD of the Gothic; I know the work from the 2011 Proms performance* which had 800 singers and 200 hundred musicians, which was what brought it to mind. There are plenty of reviews and whatnot about that performance: opinions of it are all over the map from "long and boring” to “unjustly neglected.” I quite liked it, but I’m not sure what that’s worth.

*It seems likely that there’s a torrent of it somewhere, though I haven’t looked and I hesitate to recommend such a course of action.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:14 PM on September 21, 2014


Could it be Mahler's 8th? Supposedly there are a thousand people on stage to perform the whole thing, but that isn't true-- with all the musicians and voices required, it's somewhere around 700 in actuality. The "Veni Creator Spiritus" portion is very dramatic.

ETA: shoot, you said "contemporary." Pretty sure Mahler never made it to the TV era!
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:20 AM on September 22, 2014


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