Singing Shakespeare Concert

Katy Stephens and Forbes Masson join the line up for Singing Shakespeare – new global choral project from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

03 April 2014

A concert taking place in the Church in which William Shakespeare was christened and is buried will mark the launch of a new two year global singing project by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which will mark the 450th anniversary of the playwright’s birth in 2014 and the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016. 

The launch concert will take place on 24th April at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, and is generously supported by the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust.  It will form part of the town’s annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations and will feature four world premieres of works by world famous composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and award-winning composer Gary Carpenter.  

A new project spearheaded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, ‘Singing Shakespeare’ will inspire choirs from all over the world to perform new and existing musical settings of Shakespeare, and to take part in the anniversaries in 2014 and 2016.  Choirs from as far afield as Florence, Sydney and Alaska will be taking part. 

“Joining the choirs for the concert we are very pleased to announce that the choirs will be joined by actors Forbes Masson and Katy Stephens – both highly acclaimed performers with strong musical backgrounds. They will be performing spoken interludes between the choirs’ performances. In another exciting development, we have a growing list of Patrons of the project, which includes Poet Laureate Carol Anne Duffy, Andrew Motion, Michael Berkley, the baritone Sir Thomas Allen and Kate Tempest” said Marion Morgan, Events Officer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and producer of Singing Shakespeare.

In addition, the concert will be welcoming four soloists from Birmingham Conservatoire for the Serenade to Music - Eleanor Hodkinson (soprano), Ellie Edmonds (mezzo-soprano), Christopher Griksaitis (Tenor) and Samuel Oram (Baritone). The concert has been generously supported by the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust, and in particular the participation of Conservatoire members.

The concert will include performances by the Stratford-upon-Avon Chamber Choir, Holy Trinity Church Choir and Cantare, a newly formed chamber choir based in Stratford.  Choirs representing a range of choral backgrounds and styles were invited to showcase the musical talent and activity in the town. They will sing a collection of Shakespeare themed settings under their own Musical Directors (Stephen Dodsworth, Benedict Wilson and Matthew Smallwood respectively) and will join together under the baton of David Wordsworth to perform Vaughan Williams’ ‘Serenade to Music’ – an iconic musical evocation of a scene from the Merchant of Venice – and the Sondheim and the Carpenter works.

Singing Shakespeare will include on-line resources developed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for choirs, teachers and students, recordings of performances of Carpenter’s new works by choirs from all over the world, blogs and filmed masterclasses by choral directors and vocal experts, networking opportunities for singers and choirs and an archive of performances sent in by choirs.

The project will develop over the next three years to include a competition for young composers, the collecting/commissioning of new choral settings by young and established composers, as well as high profile performances of new and existing works.

Tickets and more information are available from or can be reserved by calling 01789 201844.

Notes to editors:

Press release date: 2 April 2014. For more information please contact Press and Public Affairs Officer Nurinder Mantell on 01789 207132/ 07824 137638 or email

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world. The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no regular government funding public subsidy or direct government funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends.