"What an extraordinary contribution to our nation's musical life he has made."
"David Hill’s impressive new recording with his Bach Choir (in the original German) boasts confident, ardent choral singing and orchestral playing, and a strong solo team…"
BBC Music Magazine
"The BBC Singers gave no fewer than four premieres, each in their way extraordinary, in a towering performance directed by David Hill..."
"Conductor David Hill creates a beautiful nostalgic-numinous atmosphere, but he also has a keen sense of drama and whips up some thrilling climaxes"
"These performances under David Hill are fine, responsive to the beauty and the terror...[they] impress as more impassioned than Hickox's and the recorded sound has a keener range and depth of perspective."
Musical Director The Bach Choir
Principal Conductor Yale Schola Cantorum
Musical Director Leeds Philharmonic Society
Associate Guest Conductor Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Renowned for his fine musicianship, David Hill is widely respected as both a choral and orchestral conductor. His talent has been recognised by his appointments as Musical Director of The Bach Choir, Music Director of Leeds Philharmonic Society, Associate Guest conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum, and International Chair in Choral Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music. He was Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers from September 2007 to September 2017 and is a former Music Director of Southern Sinfonia.
Born in Carlisle and educated at Chetham’s School of Music, of which he is now a Governor, he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the remarkably young age of 17. Having been Organ Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge, David Hill returned to hold the post of Director of Music from 2004-2007. His other appointments have included Master of the Music at Winchester Cathedral, Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral and Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Chorus. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Southampton for Services to Music, and in March 2018, he was honoured with the prestigious Royal College of Organists medal, in recognition of distinguished achievement in choral conducting and organ playing.
David Hill has a broad-ranging discography covering repertoire from Thomas Tallis to a number of world premiere recordings. As well as achieving prestigious Grammy and Gramophone Awards, many of his discs have been recommended as Critic’s Choices, with his ongoing series of English choral music for Naxos, and discs for Hyperion with the Yale Schola Cantorum receiving particular acclaim.
Hill has appeared with the BBC Symphony and BBC Philharmonic orchestras, London Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera, the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, Ulster Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Réal Filharmonia de Galicia, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, and Portland Baroque Orchestras as well as the Netherlands Radio Choir and RIAS Chamber Choir, Berlin.
In January 2019 David Hill was awarded an MBE for services to music.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
The Bach Choir / Howells: Missa Sabrinensis
Hyperion; CDA68294 / release date May 2020
Hill’s uplifting performance, magnificently sung by the choir and the soloists Helena Dix, Christine Rice, Benjamin Hulett and Roderick Williams, proves a complete vindication
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times
This new recording perfectly captures the radiance of the writing, the grandeur of the vision—just wait for the Gloria that comes after [the Kyrie] when you listen to this—and the connection with landscape and tradition. A perfect way to hear Howells at his most expansive
Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review
A texturally high-definition performance from David Hill and the superbly trained amateurs of The Bach Choir...It’s an electrifying performance: one of those you never knew you were waiting for but can’t imagine now ever doing without
Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone Magazine
The combined forces certainly make a glorious noise, at its most impressive with the extensive Gloria section
BBC Music Magazine, performance **** recording *****
The Bach Choir are fitting performers, along with the BBC Concert Orchestra, of this challenging, rhapsodic piece in a new recording (Hyperion) conducted by David Hill. The quartet of soloists – Helena Dix, Christine Rice, Benjamin Hulett and Roderick Williams – is well-matched and fearless.
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
This may be one of this year’s most significant choral recordings, and it is a performance not to be missed
David Smith, Presto Classical *Recording of the Week*
This is a highly impressive account of Missa Sabrinensis. It’s one that does full justice to the stature of the work… David Hill reveals the work’s stature more compellingly and convincingly… David Hill has certainly increased my appreciation of this neglected important score very significantly
Howells’ Missa Sabrinensis is a masterpiece, its true genius revealed in this exceptionally sensitive performance, recorded so lucidly that it defies its reputation for being difficult to perform. This is essential listening for anyone into Howells and the true greatness of his work
The redoubtable David Hill has seen to all hurdles; preparing his Bach Choir with meticulous attention to detail and editing the score and parts in conjunction with Howells scholar, Paul Spicer...The resulting recording is nothing short of extraordinary. It is hard not to be moved by this music...Missa Sabrinensis has been a hidden masterpiece that has now come to light, thanks to this landmark performance. It undoubtedly puts Howells in a different light. Be borne away on its powerful tide.
Tony Way, Limelight
By any standards, this recording of Howell’s Missa Sabriensis (Mass of the Severn) is a major event and superior in every way to the work’s previous account on disc...Led by conductor David Hill, who clearly believes in every note of this piece, the Bach Choir, BBC Concert Orchestra and the fine quartet of soloists offer an exhilarating performance, which reveals this work to be a forgotten British masterpiece from the middle of 20th century.
Philip Reed, Choir & Organ
Bach B minor Mass with The Bach Choir and the OAE
Royal Festival Hall, February 2020
All the big thrills belong to the choir’s 220 black-clad figures as they negotiate the work’s vast and variegated landscape, with moments of heart-stopping beauty along the way. I have to keep reminding myself that these people are amateurs: I can’t imagine a professional choir giving a more perfect and passionate performance
Michael Church, The Independent *****
Yale Schola Cantorum / New England choirworks
Hyperion CDA68314 / release date December 2019
[A] richly rewarding recording of choral works sung by Yale Schola Cantorum under David Hill
Tawnie Olson's Magnificat immediately grabs attention with its pungent evocations of Bulgarian women's choirs, conveyed convincingly by Elm City Girls' Choir, which then combine and interleave with the Yale voices to reimagine medieval organum for the 21st century … David Hill's affecting God be in my head and Daniel Kellogg's high-spirited Shout joy! make an effective contrasting pair at the heart of this rewarding disc
Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine, performance ****, recording ****
David Hill has devised a most interesting and varied programme for this CD and his highly accomplished choir sings it with tremendous skill.
John Quinn, MusicWeb-International
Yale Schola Cantorum / Schütz: The Christmas Story & other works
Hyperion; CDA68315 / release date December 2019
Venturing outside the British sound world, the Yale Schola Cantorum, under David Hill, give a refreshingly clean and athletic American account of Schütz’s 17th-century Christmas Story and assorted motets
The Times ****
The American choir Yale Schola Cantorum, conducted by David Hill, gives an ample and well-honed account of Heinrich Schütz’s The Christmas Story (Hyperion)
The Yale Schola Cantorum comprises roughly 30 singers and a dozen instrumentalists, but they sound light and bright nonetheless...David Hill's sense of shaping and narrative sweep is equally positive
Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone
Schütz’s Italianate oratorio is one of the masterpieces of the early Baroque and is performed beautifully here. Voices and instruments are superbly balanced within the rich recorded texture
BBC Music Magazine ****
Yale University's Schola Cantorum sing and play like seasoned professionals, and Hyperion’s documentation is excellent
Dvorak's Stabat Mater with Leeds Philharmonic Chorus & RLPO
Leeds Town Hall, 2019
A fine performance...David Hill’s pacing and dynamic shading allowed this epic work to unfold in luminous orchestral and vocal detail... a performance of powerful emotional impact
Geoffrey Mogridge, Ilkley Gazette
Yale Schola Cantorum / Brahms ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem’
Hyperion; CDA68242 / release date 31 August 2018
The 32-member Yale Schola Cantorum is full of young, vibrant voices, and they respond with alacrity and sensitivity to David Hill’s vastly experienced direction.
Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine - performance ****, recording ****
Shaped by Hill’s sensitive pacing and dynamics, the music rises and falls with the meaning of the words in just the way the composer intended... This recording beautifully conveys [the work's] human feeling and its pure aesthetic magic. There’s a striking warmth to the performance overall – a sense of intimacy founded in the immersive work of the singers and instrumentalists, aided by Farrington’s sparkling new chamber arrangement, and richly informed by conductor Hill’s deep understanding of the Brahms Requiem.
John Sobel, Blogcritics.org
David Hill's instincts are sound, especially in the Requiem's outer pillars and its keystone, 'How lovely are thy dwellings'.
Peter Quantrill, Gramophone Magazine
Yale Schola Cantorum / Palestrina; Missa Confitebor tibi Domine
David Hill produces a marvellous sound from his choir, beautifully tuned, beautifully balanced and with many truly exciting moments... These tracks are an unalloyed pleasure.
David Fallows, Gramophone
Under the masterly direction of David Hill, this crack student choir produces a clean yet luxuriant sound, reflecting the sumptuous vocal resources that might have been used on a major feast day in one of the Roman churches.
Kate Bolton-Porciatti, BBC Music Magazine - Recording ****, performance ****
Palestrina’s Missa Confitebor tibi Domine (1572) is a real find, a glorious work...This stylish, immersed-in, performance is characterised by David Hill’s directness, underpinned by forward momentum.
David Truslove, Classical Source ****
Yale Schola Cantorum / Fauré; Requiem & other sacred music
November 2017; Hyperion; CDA68209
The real glories of the disc come with the handful of rarely heard choral miniatures which are, without exception, absolute gems. Hill’s overall approach is to produce a smooth sound rather than present significant interpretations of the music, and this is an approach that serves these shorter pieces particularly well, investing them with simple beauty rather than emotional or spiritual depth.
Marc Rochester, Gramophone
The motets are a treasure trove of elegant modulations, each in every way beautifully crafted with never a bar too many. Hill's instrumentally expanded version of the Cantique de Jean Racine is equally effective.
Roger Nichols, BBC Music Magazine
Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle / BBC Singers
Proms at … The Chapel, Greenwich / August 2016
This Mass [...] sparkled with vitality and wit under David Hill.
Denise Prentice, Classical Source
The BBC Singers under chief conductor David Hill did much to enliven the choral elements within the work. They produced singing that had a cleanliness to their collective tonal blending from the opening Kyrie and throughout, a subtlety to their articulation of the intricately scored text in the Credo in particular, and thrillingly fulsome yet unforced sound was in evidence in forte passages.
Evan Dickerson, musicOMH
Mahler Symphony No 8 (Symphony of a Thousand) with the Orchestra of Opera North
Leeds International Concert Season at Leeds Town Hall, June 2016
And, best of all, David Hill fully justified his reputation as a fine choral conductor by obtaining immaculate singing from the Leeds Festival Chorus, the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and the Bradford Catholic Youth Choir.
Ron Simpson, thereviewshub.com
Bach’s Christmas Oratoria with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers
City Halls Glasgow, December 2015
David Hill’s conducting was a bullseye job in sheer style.
Michael Tumelty, The Herald *****
Prom 48: Late-night Bach / Academy of Ancient Music, BBC Singers and Soloists
Royal Albert Hall, 21 August 2015
The BBC Singers, directed by David Hill, were impeccable.
Alexandra Coghlan, Artsdesk ****
Bob Chilcott: The Angry Planet
(Signum Classics: SIGCD422)
All [pieces] are clearly articulated and differentiated in performances directed by David Hill.
Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus: Elgar, Bruch and Finzi
18 March 2015, The Lighthouse, Poole
David Hill clearly knew the work well and paced it perfectly.
Rob Barnett, Seen and Heard International
Hill’s energy, enthusiasm and masterful direction [...]
Phil Smith, Bachtrack
London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus: Duruflé, Debussy and Fauré
1 March 2015, The Barbican
Given the testosterone and star spectacle in many London Symphony Orchestra concerts, it’s an unusual pleasure to spend one night with the judicious, the modest and the shy.[...]the original conductor, Donald Runnicles, caught influenza; David Hill arrived as a reliable late replacement and the sea [Debussy's La Mer] was replaced with Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande suite, music so dainty and loveable that it could have been written by a dormouse.
The silken LSO strings in the suite’s Sicilienne were one of the concert’s special joys. Similar beauty arrived during the prelude to Debussy’s early cantata La demoiselle élue. [...] I was grateful for Hill’s lyric flow as the London Symphony Chorus coursed through Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem, like a Burne-Jones painting daubed in words.[...]Curled up in my seat, I was content.
Geoff Brown, The Times****
Duruflé’s Requiem is at once an acquired taste and difficult for its performers. Steady rhythms are offset with continuous metrical irregularity. It can easily sound forced, though Hill allowed it to evolve naturally and with great ritual solemnity. The choral singing was first rate and wonderfully majestic.
Tim Ashley, The Guardian****
Serenity was strikingly evident in Sunday night’s concert-opener, Debussy’s lyrical cantata La damoiselle élue (The Blessed Damozel). [...] Its musical language (a heady cocktail of Franck, Massenet and Wagner) was a perfect match for the poem’s imagery and both were magnificently recreated by David Hill and the London Symphony Orchestra. Amongst the many notable qualities of his account was the hushed opening prelude where Hill coaxed from his players some of the most tender playing I’ve heard in this rarely performed work.
With David Hill taking over at such short notice from an indisposed Donald Runnicles, it was perhaps inevitable that there would be a programme change. Fortunately, the all-French theme remained [...] In the [Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande] Suite’s four movements, Hill responded effortlessly to the work’s melodic contours and summoned just the right wistful evocation in the first movement and brought to the second a brightly-lit scene where the clarity of Fauré’s scoring is superb.
[...in Durufle’s Requiem] It is the chorus which make the strongest contribution to the work’s emotional impact and in this aspect they were gloriously responsive to Hill’s energising and passionate gestures. [...] Having taken on this programme with just twenty-four hours notice Hill might also have felt some sense of serenity in those closing bars. If he did then it was richly deserved and he must be congratulated for the quality of these fine performances.
David Truslove, bachtrack****
David Hill conducted sympathetically and skilfully. Having stepped in at such short notice I hope he will be given the chance to conduct the LSO again soon.
Alan Sanders, Seen and Heard International
Prom 37: Steve Reich – It’s Gonna Rain, The Desert Music / BBC Singers & Endymion
13 August 2014
Accuracy and stamina...the BBC Singers and Endymion were expertly marshalled by David Hill
Tim Ashley, The Guardian****
it is Hill who deserves the highest praise; his direction communicated the vitality and fragility at the heart of the piece – a thrilling sense of life on the edge.
Laura Battle, Financial Times****
the lion’s share of the credit for this performance should go to David Hill, whose knowledge of and clear love for the score kept the chorus on the front foot, rhythmically tight and vocally expressive.
Ben Hogwood, ClassicalSource
The BBC Singers’ 90th Anniversary Celebration
24 September 2014, The Barbican
[The sequence of Judith Weir Vertue, John Tavener Song for Athene and Britten Hymn to St Cecila] gave the chorus under its chief conductor, David Hill, a chance to show off some versatility...Hill shaped the music with affectionate warmth.
John Allison, The Telegraph****
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / The Bach Choir, David Matthews Symphony No. 7 & Vespers
A mightily impressive find, make no mistake - and another stellar performance, too, this time under the watchful supervision of David Hill.
Herbert Howells: Stabat Mater
David Hill uses a score marked up by Howells with several radical tempi changes that he discovered by chance just a month before recording. The result is a fine reading.
Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian****
Though there is much emotional turbulence in this music, Hill maintains a compelling life and forward momentum in Howells’s immensely contrapuntal score [...] A stunning disc [...] A very moving performance.
Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone Editor's Choice
David Hill gets into the very soul of the music and extracts an intensely gripping interpretation [...] Conductor, chorus and orchestra are completely at one, which makes this CD memorable.
Shirley Ratcliffe, Choir & Organ*****
All three works here thrive in the hands of these singers, this orchestra and this conductor.
Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
When the choir suddenly interjects with the words Stabat Mater dolorosa, Hill brings a colossal impact that is then allowed to surge and fall, bringing out all of Howells’ glowing, passionate emotion. The dark, ominous opening of Cujus animam gementem is picked up by the male voices with Hill allowing Howells’ fine development to grow naturally with lovely harmonic shifts and surges of ecstasy. [...] Hill holds a terrific hushed tension as the choir enters on Vidit suum dulcem Natum. [...] It is in the quiet moments such as the hushed orchestral section towards the end that Hill‘s mastery of orchestral shaping is at its most profound. Soon the tenor enters again, bringing such drama and tension.
Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer
The Bach Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, under David Hill’s brilliant direction, execute Howell’s numinous Stabat mater ... with fluency and insight.
Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone Editor's Choice
Two exemplary moments must suffice to illustrate why this is an essential Christmas gift for any lover of English music [...] The piece is almost unutterably moving, the present performance fully worthy [...] the whole team of singers and instrumentalists respond with the utmost fervour to Hill's evidently inspiring leadership.
Piers Burton-Page, International Record Review, IRR Outstanding
The Bach Choir and the London Philharmonia perform Berlioz’s Te Deum
10 June 2014 at the Royal Festival Hall
Under David Hill the Philharmonia played with verve and imagination, much of it their own...Berlioz, in his verdant solos for clarinet and oboe and his bold antiphonal chords, supplies more than enough fantasy on the page. Here, Hill’s choirs blazed in triumph.
Anna Picard, The Times
BBC Prom 70: BBC Singers, Royal Albert Hall
With the BBC Singers and the Choristers of Temple Church Choir under David Hill, the result was magical
Under their director, David Hill, the BBC Singers cherished the softly undulating melodies, their syllables striding out in the Dies Irae, their words lightly held, flowing as clear and transparent as a wash of English watercolour.
**** The Times
Britten’s A Boy Was Born – got a stunning performance by a combination of the Temple Church Choir and the BBC Singers under David Hill’s direction.
David Hill, choral conductor par excellence, directed with clarity and evident passion... The BBC Singers were joined for this by the boys in red, from the Temple Church Choir, all with angel voices. This was a treat: sophisticated, many-layered music, stamped with signs of the Britten to come, most dextrously performed, with due regard even paid to “authentic” medieval pronunciations.
The Arts Desk
BBC Singers, The Cheltenham Festival
The BBC Singers, led by conductor David Hill were meticulous in their approach to the score and subtleties in the music.
The BBC Singers gave no fewer than four premieres, each in their way extraordinary, in a towering performance directed by David Hill, at Cheltenham College Chapel
the breathtakingly brilliant BBC Singers under David Hill’s wise and remarkable direction came through it all with flying colours
Seen & Heard International
Delius Mass of Life and Prelude & Idyll
Naxos 8572861-62, June 2012
This superb new [recording] from the Bach Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in fact increases by 100 per cent the number of versions readily available. … David Hill launches the opening O du mein Wille! with terrific gusto, the chorus and orchestra responding with thrilling impulse and intensity. Even in Part 2, where the tension slackens and the music becomes more meditative, Hill maintains the inner momentum and points up the essential poetry of the piece. In this Delius anniversary year it is good to welcome such a stirring and perceptive interpretation of his work.
***** The Telegraph
There is no doubt from the vivid opening choruses of Parts 1 and 2 of the recording (and what openings!) that the message of the work is a life-affirming one. There is a dynamic momentum to the tempi which perfectly evokes Zarathustra’s ruling passion, the Will of Man, and there is a richness to the orchestral sounds which adds to the sense of muscularity. The chorus negotiate Delius’s often awkward vocal intervals with great skill and the intonation is virtually flawless. Hill brings energy and élan to the third section, ‘In deine Auge’ (for me perhaps the most exhilarating section of Part 1), where the parallel with the end of Act 2 of Die Meistersinger is almost palpable and where the most unusual example of a Delius fugue is given life, vigour and meaning. This is a must for any Delius Liebhaber and, with the added bonus of the later Prelude and Idyll, a marvellous starting point for anyone new to Delius’s unique but compelling art.
David Hill’s impressive new recording with his Bach Choir (in the original German) boasts confident, ardent choral singing and orchestral playing, and a strong solo team
**** BBC Music Magazine
… and this new [recording], from Naxos, has splendid modern sound, a thrilling choir and orchestra, and, in David Hill, a conductor no less devoted to Delius than his more celebrated predecessor
Classical CD of the Week, The Sunday Times