The Hong Kong Bach Choir is Hong Kong’s leading classical chorus. Formed in 1970, the original Choir was a group of 15 singers assembled to support the Baroque Ensemble for a single Bach cantata performance. Over the years it has grown significantly and now has a multinational membership of more than 100 singers. The Choir presents two concerts in major venues each year.
The Choir has enjoyed the direction of a number of conductors over its 40-year history, from its earliest days with Dr Carl Halter through productive associations with notable local musicians Peter Stevenson and Michael Ryan. Since 1992, the Choir has been under the musical leadership of Jerome Hoberman, with whom it has sung a diverse range of music. It now has the widest repertoire of any choir in Hong Kong, ranging from the fifteenth century to the present day.
Demonstrating a flair for originality in musical programming, the Choir has performed a series of significant local premières. These include the first Asian performances of Otto Olsson’s Te Deum and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The First Nowell, and the first Hong Kong performances of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Britten’s St. Nicholas, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time (marking the composer’s centenary in 2005), Honegger’s Le Roi David (in Le French May 2006) and Berlioz’s Messe Solennelle (in Le French May 2009). The choir has also premiered five specially-commissioned choral works by local composers: From the Old to the New Testament by Ip Kim Ho in 1998, Veni Sancte Spiritus by Christopher Keyes in 1999, Ip Kim Ho’s An Offering of Flowers (written to form part of the Choir’s 2002 Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle performance), Han Shan (Cold Mountain) by Joyce Wai-Chung Tang in 2005, and David Francis Urrows’ Prelude and a Psalm of Francis Thompson in 2007.
In May 2006 the Hong Kong Bach Choir made its debut at Le French May with an all-French programme featuring works by modern composers such as Honegger, Messiaen, Langlais, Boulanger and Poulenc. It participated again in the 2009 festival with another concert of French music. The Choir has also taken part in special events such as the 30 June 1997 Handover Ceremony, a Christmas concert recorded for RTHK in December 1998, the Hong Kong Chorale Festival in May 1999, and the RTHK Festival at City Hall in December 1999. More recently, in March 2008, the Choir collaborated with the Cornell University Chorus and Glee Club with a performance of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Bach Orchestra was formed by Jerome Hoberman in 1995 to accompany the Choir in its 25th anniversary performance of Bach’s B-Minor Mass. Since then, the Orchestra has regularly shared the stage with the choir and occasionally appears on its own. It features leading members of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and prominent local freelance musicians. The Choir commissioned Christopher Coleman’s Dark Gardens for the Orchestra in 1999.
The Choir recently celebrated its 40th anniversary season in 2010 with a gala performance of Bach’s B-Minor Mass featuring four internationally-renowned soloists: Sylvia Schwartz, Phyllis Pancella, Christoph Genz and Stephan Loges.