The Leeds Guild of Singers is an auditioned 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.”
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.
The number of singers varies between 20 and 30. We pride ourselves on a light, flexible and pure sound, and rapid turnover of repertoire.
The Guild gives around 6 concerts each season - mainly in Yorkshire. The choir has performed in venues including Fountains Abbey, Ripley Castle, Cartmel Priory, St Cuthbert's, and Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, as well as major venues around Leeds.
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. 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 our former director) of Cavalli's Vespers (1656), a major work on a par with Monteverdi's great 1610 Vespers, with Baroque orchestra.
Our Director of Music is Joseph Judge, a highly versatile UK Conductor and Singer. He is Chorus Master of the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, a Hallé Associate Artist, and Artistic Director of the Exon Festival. He is currently studying on the prestigious Masters Conducting course at the Royal Northern College of Music, which includes assisting the BBC Philharmonic and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, and receiving masterclass tuition from leading conductors such as Sir Mark Elder and David Hill.
Joseph is in demand as a Countertenor, frequently engaged as an oratorio soloist on regular live broadcasts with the BBC Daily Service Singers, as a Lay Clerk at Manchester Cathedral and with a variety of other ensembles. He was one of the eight inaugural Fellows of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, performing throughout the UK and in Malta, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Joseph has also worked with the Hallé Choir, recorded for Sony PlayStation, and conducted in the Bridgewater Hall. Also a passionate educator, he directs the Hallé Choral Academy, works with Hallé Youth and Training Choirs, as music staff on NYCGB Courses, and adjudicated Jersey Music Service’s PwC Young Musician of the Year. He is founder and director of Turton Consort, who often broadcast live on BBC Radio. Upcoming projects include collaboration with The Vine Quartet for a mini concert series of works for voices and string quartet, and his first Exon Festival saw a performance of Handel's Messiah and a live BBC Radio 4 broadcast of Schubert's Mass in G with FIGO Baroque Ensemble.