The Hilliard Ensemble is a highly accomplished male vocal quartet, specializing in Medieval, Renaissance, and 20th Century avant garde music.
The group was founded in 1974, primarily to explore pre-Baroque music. As the Early Music movement spread in England in the 1970s, they came to be in demand for the purity of their voices and blends and their close attention to authenticity in performing style.
While the core group has been four male voices, they have on occasion expanded through temporary additions of other singers, especially on recordings made in the 1980s.
The group was named in honor of English miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard (c. 1537-1619) and perhaps also in oblique reference to conductor Paul Hillier, who has worked frequently with them and did much of their early program planning. In 1990 the core personnel of the Ensemble were David James (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump and John Potter (tenors) and Gordon Jones (baritone), a line-up that remained consistent through the decade. They are a co-operative group, planning their programs and deciding on interpretations by consensus.
While the group¦s main repertory is pre-1600 music (which mostly appears on the Hyperion Records label) they also have an association with ECM New Series records, on which they have sung music of avant garde composers such as Arvo Part, Heinz Holliger, Edward Cowie, John Tavener, Gavin Bryars, and John Casken., and collaborated with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek on a Jazz oriented release called Officium. ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi
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