New music

We are active exponents of C20/C21 music, and have forged relationships with a number of contemporary composers, including Bob Chilcott, James MacMillan, Tarik O’Regan, Howard Skempton, Philip Stopford and John Woolrich. We have regularly premiered and commissioned new works, including five in 2016 alone, Exile Lamentations by the Australian composer Paul Stanhope, which we co-commissioned in 2009, andTimepieces, a commission from Ian Stephens in 2011, the third movement of which we premiered on Radio 3. All six works on our 2014 CD Timepieces were premiered by the choir.

The choir has won awards from the PRS Foundation for New Music, Making Music and from The Holst Foundation for outstanding enterprise in choral music. It has some thirty First Recordings to its name, as well as numerous premieres, which are listed below (B first broadcast performance, C Elysian Singers’ commission, E Winning Elysian Singers Psalmfest composition competition entry, I Irish premiere, J joint commission, L London premiere, R first SATB recording, S Spanish/Basque premiere, U UK premiere, W World premiere). Selected sound tracks are available at the foot of the page.


Julian Allwood Mettimi come un sigillo L
Colin Attard The Lord is my Shepherd W
Bertie Baigent Noli claudere aures tuas W
Richard Baker Huiusmodi sunt omnia R
Stuart Beatch Psalm 53 E
Gavin Bryars On Photography L
Geoffrey Burgon The First World L Five love songs L
Diana Burrell Come Holy Ghost L Creator of the stars of night L
Julian Butcher Come, everyone that thirsteth W
Bob Chilcott Four carols by Kevin Crossley-Holland W Our Father W
Danyal Dhondy Still the Sirens W (Video here)
Antonin Dvořák Dmitrij (concert performance) L
Aidan Fisher Allu Mari C
Mark Fleming Keep thou not silence W
Philip Glass Three Songs (1984) U
Michael Zev Gordon There we sat down R
Henryk Górecki Miserere, Op. 44 BL Songs of Rodziny Katynskie U Three Kurpian Songs, Op. 75 L Three Lullabies, Op. 47 BL
John Habron Salve Regina W
Bernard Hughes Psalm 56 E
Andrew Hugill Les Origines Humaines C (more details on Andrew Hugill’s website)
Alexis Kirke Open Outcry W (trailer on YouTube)
Erich Korngold Die Tote Stadt (concert performance) U
David Lancaster Bliss W
Owen Leech If you are Fire W
Jeffrey Lewis Recordatio W
David Lumsdaine Five travelling songs WR
James MacMillan Invocation L Tenebrae Responsories L
Peter Maxwell Davies Corpus Christi with cat and mouse L O verbum patris L
Philippe Mazé Trois motets pour un temps de pénitence U
John McCabe Amen/Alleluia U
Michael McHale Cross Road Blues W
Per Nørgård D’Monstrantz Vöögeli U Halleluja – vor Gud er forrykt! U
Chris O’Hara Be merciful unto me, O God E
Tarik O’Regan Ave Maria IL Bring rest, sweet dreaming child CR Dorchester Canticles L Surrexit Christus ILS
Michael Parsons Farthest North W
David Power Two Emily Bronte settings W
Daniel Rollison Adiuva nos, Deus salutaris noster W
Malcolm Singer Songs of Ascent C
Howard Skempton The Flight of Song L Roundels of the Year C Song at the year’s turning L
Paul Stanhope Exile Lamentations JR
Ian Stephens The Ecchoing Green B Funeral Blues B Timepieces CR
Philip Stopford Ave regina caelorum W
John Tavener Many Years W Monument for Beethoven W
James Whitbourn Magnificat and Nunc dimittis L
John Woolrich Over the sea C

A selection of tracks from the choir’s archive of concert recordings
(year of composition in parentheses):

Ian Stephens (2011): Funeral Blues (excerpt)

Ian Stephens (2011): Our Bias (conclusion)

Paul Stanhope (2009): Eykhah (excerpt)

Paul Stanhope (2009): Deserts of exile (excerpt)

Paul Stanhope (2009): Lament (conclusion)

Stuart Beatch (2016): Psalm 53 (conclusion) Sound Engineer: Calum Bell

Bernard Hughes (2016): Psalm 56 (conclusion) Sound Engineer: Calum Bell

Chris O’Hara (2016): Be merciful unto me, O God (excerpt) Sound Engineer: Calum Bell

John Duggan (2009) Returning, we hear the larks

Philip Stopford (2011): Ave Regina Caelorum (excerpt)

Judith Weir (2005): Vertue

Judith Weir (2005): Prayer

Judith Weir (2003): A blue true dream of sky (excerpt)

Tarik O’Regan (2002): Surrexit Christus (excerpt)

Gabriel Jackson (2007): A prayer of King Henry VI

Bob Chilcott (2009): The Heart-in-Waiting (conclusion)

David Lumsdaine (2012): Roman Wall Blues

James Macmillan (2006): Tenebrae factae sunt (excerpt)

James Macmillan (2006): Tradiderunt me (conclusion)

  • “An entrancing aural kaleidoscope,...
    which beguiles with its ravishing combination of the ethereal and the profound" (Radio 3 broadcaster, Jeremy Summerly)

    "The singing is among the finest you’ll hear from a chamber choir" (Radio WRST, University of Wisconsin)

    "A very enterprising selection...the choir make a light, fresh sound and sing with enthusiasm and commitment...the music is well performed and well recorded"

    Buy the CD

    Read more →

  • “A fine choral disc…well worth a listen” (Fiona Maddocks/The Guardian)

    Released in June 2019

    Read more →



  • Stopford: Ave Regina Caelorum

  • Tavener: Butterfly dreams

  • Poulenc: Bois meurtri

  • Musgrave: The subway piranhas

  • Weir: Love bade me welcome

  • Britten: Carry her over the water

  • Fauré: In paradisum

  • Somewhere over the rainbow

  • Chilcott: Advent Antiphons

  • Rachmaninov: Vespers

  • Allwood: Charades III

  • Tallis: Lamentations

  • Josquin: Agnus Dei

  • Have yourself a merry little Xmas

  • Schumann: Zuversicht

  • Poulenc: La bonne neige

  • Stanford: The Blue Bird

  • Britten: God’s grandeur


  • Recordings

    It would be difficult to praise the performances too highly (Choir and Organ)

    Highly attractive...hugely enjoyable" (Time Out)

    Robust yet tonally refined performances ***** (BBC Music Magazine)

    Sam Laughton's Elysian Singers perform here with captivating intensity ***** (Classic FM)

    Subtle, disciplined, radiant (Gramophone)

    The Elysian Singers perform this often difficult work with clarity, precision and emotional punch (American Record Guide)

    Exquisitely sung with full-bodied, lively tone ***** (Classic CD)

    Magnificent (Church Times)

  • Media

    I travel back from London with the St Matthew Passion filling my head, after the moving performance from the Elysian Singers and Royal Orchestral Society under Sam Laughton at St James’s Piccadilly (The Spectator, April 2019)

    The female voices of the Elysian Singers contributed to a magical serenity descending over the [Albert] hall during Neptune, and when considered alongside the evening’s earlier strengths, helped to register this show as an undoubted early highlight of this year’s [Prom] festival (Music OMH, July 2015)

    A profound otherworldliness was initiated by the entry of the Elysian Singers, the off-stage female chorus seeming to sing from a distant planet, far beyond earthly realms (Seen and Heard International, July 2015)

    In the posthumous premiere of Sir John Tavener’s Monument to Beethoven, [John] Scott’s organ interjections brought visionary breadth to the Elysian Singers’ luminous tapestry (The Times, March 2014)

    Amongst chamber choirs they’re one of the best (Sir John Tavener, BBC TV interview)

    The classy Elysian Singers (Howard Goodall on Twitter, November 2013)

    That superb choir (John Woolrich, Radio 3)

    The excellent Elysian Singers directed by Sam Laughton (Classical Source, reviewing our 2014 Festival Hall concert)

    Ambitious, well executed and strangely compelling (Simon Jack, reviewing Open Outcry on Radio 4)

    Excellently performed by the Elysian Singers under Sam Laughton (Keith Potter, The Independent)

    A persuasive ensemble, excellently attuned to this repertory (The York Press)

    “The Elysian Singers came up trumps…luminously soft and uniform” (David Ardatti review)

  • Feedback

    Heard you sing last Sunday in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Wow! (especially the Kodaly). Thanks, come again soon (S&MG, Dublin)

    I was moved, not just by the music, but also by the creativity of humankind, continually sharing new ways of contemplating life, and by the discipline of ordinary people who work hard and unpaid to interpret this beauty and emotion to others (York blog)

    Last night’s concert was wonderful–and the links between these two great composers intriguing. Many thanks indeed (PE, Oxford)

    Heard your Gallant Weaver recording played on Radio 3 this morning – beautiful! It made my day 🙂 Gordon (e-mail address supplied)

    There were so many bits I loved. But most of all you looked, as a choir, like you were actually enjoying yourselves. Your encore made me cry for some reason – I think sitting there for a couple of hours was perfect therapy in the run up to Christmas – it made me want to run home and stick the girls’ stockings up and scatter cinnamon around the house (TM, London)

    Your CD of Sir Granville Bantock’s music arrived today – what treasures it contains. As someone who has enjoyed singing in choirs for many years, I found this recording very special. Congratulations to all concerned!! (BL, Hobart, Tasmania)

    I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying the new album. The choir sounds fabulous throughout. Congratulations! Please pass along my gratitude to your excellent singers (JL, USA)

    The closest I’ve come to a spiritual experience for a very long time… (DF, Streatham, after hearing the choir perform James Macmillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross)

    You made such a lovely sound this morning. Ave regina coelorum was exquisite – quite the loveliest thing I’ve heard for a long time (J P-B, Salisbury, 2011)

    We cannot thank you enough for the beautiful singing, which totally exceeded our expectations. We feel very privileged. I particularly loved the descant – it was a moment I will always remember (N&T wedding, April 2013)

    The Elysian Singers truly live up to their name; there is something heavenly about their singing…For the duration of [Peter Maxwell Davies’ Solstice of Light], I felt washed clean by its words and its music, taken out of the clutter and complications of London life. (JB, London blog, Feb 2014)

    Beautiful, uplifting music and an eclectic repertoire. A very enjoyable evening (Audience Club reviewer, Feb 2019).