Stephen Layton

Stephen Layton
Artistic Director & Principal Conductor

Stephen Layton succeeded the late Richard Hickox as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia in September 2010.


Founder and Director of Polyphony, Stephen is also Music Director of Holst Singers and in 2006, was made a Fellow and Director of Music of Trinity College, Cambridge. His former posts include Chief Guest Conductor of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Kammerkoor and Director of Music at the Temple Church in London.

He guest-conducts widely and has worked extensively with the Hallé, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Singers, English Chamber Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He also collaborates regularly with the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, with whom he has recorded a wide range of repertoire including Handel, Bruckner, Poulenc and Stravinsky.

2012/13 will see Stephen dedicating time to projects with City of London Sinfonia, including the Poulenc Festival and the Fauré Requiem tour of major UK Cathedrals, to further enforce the orchestra's strong connection with choirs and vocal repertoire. He will round off the season with a prestigious residency at the Cheltenham Music Festival with The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, and City of London Sinfonia, and a performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Polyphony, at the Three Choirs Festival.

Stephen's recent engagements include dates with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Estonian Philharmonic Choir and the Latvian Radio Choir. Highlights of the 2011/12 season included a tour and recording period with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Polyphony, with soloists including Carolyn Sampson and Ian Bostridge; a UK tour in celebration of the Scott Centenary with the City of London Sinfonia; a performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra; and performances of Bach's St John Passion at Melbourne Recital Centre, Australia.

A champion of new music, Stephen has premiered new repertoire by many composers, including Gabriel Jackson, Veljo Tormis and Morten Lauridsen and, more recently, by the young Latvian composer, Eriks Esenvalds. His bold realisation of Sir John Tavener's epic seven-hour vigil The Veil of the Temple, a new departure in British choral music, met with outstanding acclaim both in London and in New York.

Stephen's eclectic discography encompasses a vast range of repertoire, composers and genres. His Hyperion recording of Britten's Sacred & Profane received both a Gramophone Award and the Diapason d'Or for best choral disc of the year in 2001, and his Hyperion recording of Tormis' Songs with the Holst Singers received a Spanish CD Award in 2009. In the US, he was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2006, 2007 and 2012 for his Hyperion recordings of Cloudburst (Eric Whitacre), Lux Aeterna (Morten Lauridsen) and Beyond all mortal dreams (a collection of American a cappella repertoire) respectively. More recently his disc, The Nightingale, on OUR Recordings, with Michala Petri and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, was nominated for two 2013 Grammy Awards, and has also won a prestigious Echo Klassik award in Germany. In September 2012, Stephen received a further Gramophone Award for his Hyperion disc, Howells' Requiem, with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge as well as being nominated, in the same choral category, for his Poulenc disc, Half Monk, Half Rascal also on OUR Recordings, with the Danish National Vocal Ensemble.

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