St Peter's Singers (= SPS) is a mixed choir of about forty voices based in the City of Leeds, directed by Simon Lindley. For well over thirty years the Singers have enjoyed a close relationship with Leeds Minster (St Peter-at-Leeds), formerly, of course, Leeds Parish Church, where many concerts and liturgical appearances take place each season. At the same time, the choir performs at many other venues in and around Leeds, including Leeds Town Hall, St Anne's Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Minster Churches of Dewsbury and Doncaster. York Minster has been the venue for three memorable presentations in recent years, and the choir sang Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral on Easter Monday in 2005 and 2008, and at Guildford Cathedral on Spring Bank Holiday Saturday in 2011. Other Cathedrals visited recently have included Derby, Ely, Leicester, Ripon and Worcester. Tours overseas have taken the Singers to Romania in 2007, Mallorca in 2009 and Brittany in 2011.
Recent choral endeavour by the Singers in receipt of national media coverage took place in early Summer of 2011 and included participation in BBC4's award-winning production of Frankenstein's Wedding telecast live from Kirkstall Abbey under the choral direction of SPS member Jessi Pywell and the provision of Dominc Haslam's exciting musical score for the critically acclaimed West Yorkshire Playhouse production of John Ford's 'Tis pity she's a whore for which the Singers' Music Director, Dr Simon Lindley, conducted the recording session at Leeds Parish Church one Spring Sunday evening.
The choir sustains an enviable reputation for the performance of standard Baroque choral works involving the presentation of major repertoire by J.S. Bach and George Frideric Handel in association with St Peter's Chamber Orchestra and, on occasion, with the National Festival Orchestra. Messiah and the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) are regularly presented as well as J.S. Bach's two great Passion settings. Other masterpieces by Monteverdi, W.A. Mozart and Haydn are not neglected, and in 2000, 2007 and 2009 Edward Elgar's Dream of Gerontius received memorably passionate and critically acclaimed performances on the Good Friday of the years in question. The Good Friday concerts in 2010 and 2011 each included a Stabat Mater setting - that of Haydn in the former year being partnered with his Teresa Mass and in 2011 that by Dvorak with Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens. On Good Friday 2012, there was a memorable complete presentation of G.F. Handel's Messiah in honour of the centenary of Bradford-born legendary musicologist Dr Watkins Shaw, OBE, whose trail-blazing edition of the work was used.
But the choir is equally at home in a cappella and organ-accompanied programmes blending Renaissance masterpieces with modern English repertoire, commissioning a fine Stabat Mater from Francis Jackson. SPS has also become well-known for its revival of two major monodramas by actor-dramatist John Stuart Anderson with music by Francis Jackson (Daniel in Babylon, available on Amphion PHI 145 and A Time of Fire - a fascinating account of the life and times of biblical translator William Tyndale, on Amphion PHI 146). A Time of Fire was performed in Ely Cathedral in Summer 2004, and in Derby Cathedral in 2005, the latter being attended by the composer.
Welcome collaborations with other choirs have included participation in the memorable 40th anniversary celebrations of the Chapter House Choir of York under the direction of Stephen Williams, formerly a member of St Peter's Singers and now a leading choral conductor and Director of Music at Uppingham. A very happy association is sustained with Dr Donald Hunt and the Elgar Chorale of Worcester and the members of St Peter's Singers have visited Worcester Cathedral several times in the past few years for major E. Elgar concerts in the E. Elgar anniversaries of 2007 and 2009; most recently, SPS took part in The Dream of Gerontius at Worcester in Spring 2010 as the closing concert in the 50th Bromsgrove Festival.
In recent years the choir has undertaken a number of recordings, including Christopher Rathbone's fine Requiem (Amphion PHI 505), Madrigals and other pieces from Castle Howard (Amphion PHI 225) and a set of new pieces on a promotional CD for Banks Music Publications, including Stephen Wilkinson's Rorate Coeli and John Powell's lively Welcome Yule. Additionally, the choir has recorded two editions of BBC Radio 2's Sunday Half Hour and participated in live broadcasts of BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship in commemoration of the Centenary of the English Hymnal in 2006 and, in August 2010, on the weekend of the 200th Birthday of the great Samuel Sebastian Wesley, first Organist of Leeds Parish Church who served here from 1842 to 1849..
The Season 2012-2013 began with glorious music by W.A. Mozart and Haydn, culminating in the latter's Nelson Mass in the lovely setting of the 18th century Fulneck Moravian Church in Pudsey on August Bank Holiday Monday, the historic festival service of Minster Making at Leeds on September 2, 2012 Solemn Mass at St Hilda's Leeds on September 18, 2012. Other autumn highlights were Herbert Howells' Requiem sung within the context of the liturgy at Leeds Minster on November 4, 2012 and the fabulous Christmas Oratorio of the great J.S. Bach at Halifax Minster on Saturday November 24, 2012. At Leeds Town Hall on Monday February 18, 2013 came J.S. Bach's glorious St John Passion (BWV 245) sung in English with (rare) audience participation in the Chorale Hymns. Later work early in 2013 included a revival of the (very rarely heard and extremely fine) Passion of Our Lord according to St Mark by Charles Wood, a kinsman of the Music Director, Dr Simon Lindley. Good Friday 2012 saw music by Johannes Brahms at Leeds Minster, with the glorious German Requiem and Alto Rhapsody being the main works. This concert was accompanied by the National Festival Orchestra led by Sally Robinson. A special concert, Music with Minster Connections, took place in the Minster on April 28, 2013 with repertoire from the pens of Dr Samuel Sebastian Wesley, Sir Edward Bairstow, Dr Melville Cook, Dr Donald Hunt and Dr Simon Lindley. On May 18, 2013, the Singers and St Peter's Chamber Orchestra visit Knaresborough Parish Church [St John the Baptist] for G.F. Handel's Samson at which the role of Samson was sung by Paul Dutton.