The Farrant Singers is the longest-established chamber choir in Salisbury, with close links to the medieval city, the surrounding Wiltshire villages and the Cathedral, where the choir occasionally sings the services in place of the Cathedral Choir. The group was founded in 1958 by the composer Richard Lloyd (then Assistant Organist of Salisbury Cathedral), initially to give performances of church music in the diocese. Conductors since then have included Mark Deller, Richard Shephard, Colin Howard and Daniel Cook. Andrew Mackay took up the baton as the current conductor in December 2011.
The group currently comprises around 35 singers and its repertoire includes a wide range of sacred and secular music, spanning many periods and styles. The choir gives four large-scale concerts in Salisbury annually, performs in smaller events around the region, as well as providing the music at services, weddings and celebrations.
The choir has also sung further afield, singing services at several cathedrals around the UK and touring to Ireland, Italy and Germany.
The Farrant Singers celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2018, for which they commissioned The Elixir, by Alec Roth, performed on 17th November, and a sequence of carols by their founder, Richard Lloyd, which was given its first performance at their Christmas Concert.
In September 2021, Philip Lawson came on board as co-director and conducted his first concert with The Farrant Singers, a programme entitled 'The Old Order Changeth' in October 2021.
Philip needs very little introduction to Salisbury audiences, having arrived here in 1982 to sing as a bass lay vicar in the cathedral choir, after York University and a career as a freelance singer in London. In 1993 he successfully auditioned for The King's Singers, and began a new life of full-time touring, recording and broadcasting, performing in over 2,000 concerts, together with multiple recordings, TV and radio appearances, and choral workshops. After the departure of Bob Chilcott in 1997 he became the group’s principal arranger, contributing over 50 arrangements to the repertoire, including ten for the 2008 album “Simple Gifts”, which won a Grammy award for Best Classical Crossover Album.
Philip's compositions and arrangements are sung worldwide and are published mostly by Hal Leonard. More locally, he has worked closely with Andrew Mackay over many years as the composer of four original stage shows, culminating in the major commission of Magna Cantata, which was performed by adult professionals and hundreds of local schoolchildren in the cathedral to celebrate the 8ooth anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015."
During rehearsal for Bob Chilcott's 'Salisbury Vespers'.
During rehearsal for Bob Chilcot's 'Salisbury Vespers'.
Andrew took up the baton in December 2011. Andy is well known to many concert-goers in Salisbury as founder and Director of the Sarum Consort and its associated group, the Sarum Consort Singers.
While much of his professional career has been devoted to teaching, he has a wealth of experience as a singer and conductor, beginning as a student at Trinity College and King’s College, Cambridge. He has been conductor of Goring Chamber Choir and Romsey Singers, and has many operatic and orchestral conducting credits, as well as being a former lay clerk at Salisbury Cathedral.
Also a playwright and lyricist, Andrew has written four shows in collaboration with the composer and former King's Singer, Philip Lawson, including the acclaimed Magna Cantata, performed in Salisbury Cathedral as part of the Magna Carta celebrations in July 2015