"EXAUDI, the extraordinary ensemble of vocal virtuosi"
The Sunday Times
"12 musically superb and technically accomplished singers"
New York Times
"deftly convincing performances of dizzyingly complex works"
"the dazzle of EXAUDI’s vocal pyrotechnics"
EXAUDI is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles for new music. Founded by James Weeks (director) and Juliet Fraser (soprano) in 2002, EXAUDI is based in London and draws its singers from among the UK’s brightest vocal talents.
EXAUDI’s special affinity is for the radical edges of contemporary music, at home equally with maximal complexity, microtonality and experimental aesthetics. The newest new music is at the heart of its repertoire, and it has given national and world premières of Sciarrino, Rihm, Finnissy, Frey, Posadas, Oesterle, Crane, Dusapin, Ferneyhough, Gervasoni, Skempton, Pesson, Poppe, Mažulis and Fox among many others. Through its commissioning scheme, EXAUDI is particularly committed to the music of its own generation, and is proud to champion the work of significant voices including Aaron Cassidy, Evan Johnson, Bryn Harrison, Amber Priestley, Matthew Shlomowitz, Joanna Bailie, Cassandra Miller, Andrew Hamilton, James Weeks and Claudia Molitor.
EXAUDI is also strongly involved with the emerging generation of young composers, and regularly takes part in composer development schemes and residencies such as Voix Nouvelles Royaumont, IRCAM Manifeste Academie and Snape composer residencies, as well as workshops at universities and conservatoires throughout the UK. EXAUDI has particularly strong links with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and City, University of London, where it is an Ensemble in Residence. In 2019 EXAUDI was proud to sign up to PRS Foundation's Keychange initiative, committing it to gender-balanced programming across its own-promotion concerts and commissions.
An enduring feature of EXAUDI’s programming has been the mixing of contemporary music with the music of the medieval, Renaissance and baroque periods. In 2012 the EXAUDI Italian Madrigal Book project was launched to create new repertoire to stand alongside the masterpieces of Monteverdi, Gesualdo and others; to date major cycles have been commissioned from composers such as Finnissy, Gervasoni and Fox and the project has toured to Italy, France and Luxembourg as well as extensively within the UK. In September 2019 EXAUDI released its first exclusively early music CD, a disc of Gesualdo madrigals, on the Winter&Winter label.
EXAUDI’s many international engagements include Wittener Tage, Darmstadter Ferienkurse, Musica Viva (Munich), Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), IRCAM (Paris), Festival d’Automne (Paris), Voix Nouvelles (Royaumont), Pharos (Cyprus), Musica (Strasbourg), MAfestival (Bruges), CDMC (Madrid), MITO Settembre (Milan/Turin), Fundaciò BBVA (Bilbao) and Quincena Musical (San Sebastiàn). The ensemble has also collaborated with many leading ensembles including musikFabrik, Ensemble Modern, L’Instant Donné, London Sinfonietta, BCMG, Talea (NY), Helsinki Philharmonic and Ensemble InterContemporain.
EXAUDI has appeared at many leading UK venues and festivals, including Spitalfields, BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, City of London, Bath, Manchester International Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festivals, Wigmore Hall, Café OTO, Kings Place and South Bank. EXAUDI broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and European radio stations, and has released fourteen critically acclaimed recordings on the NMC, ÆON, Métier, Winter&Winter, Mode, Confront and HCR labels.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Susanna Mälkki, September 2019
EXAUDI’s electronically amplified vocals, recitation of text snippets and fluttering of phonemes were assured and millimeter-accurate and did not overwhelm the orchestra
Jukka Isopuro, Helsingin Sanomat
Winter & Winter
His madrigals describe the fickleness of the soul, the instability of the heart, the illusions of the senses. The intonation of this eccentric music is tricky. It's amazing how the EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble captures these ghostly sounds. Already after a short hearing you can say: It is perfect. It stays that way.
Wolfram Goertz, Quarterly Preise der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (winner of Choral Music category, November 2019)
They focus more on the melodic lines and the exquisitely agonising harmonies of his later, crazily intense madrigals - and yet they capture certain feelings which other groups miss, like the yearning for peace which seems to come over the music at times, as if all the passion is just too much...it's the emotional wisdom as well as the beauty of EXAUDI's disc which gives it the edge
Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph
EXAUDI's one-to-a-part approach stands comparison with the finest continental specialists in this repertory...their Gesualdo is finely etched, monumental and closely considered...The unanimity of purpose and the sense of engagement with Gesualdo's rigorous caprice sustains and richly rewards repeated listening. These are deeply intelligent and attractive performances.
Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone
The voices of EXAUDI are superbly attuned to each other, but are also characterful as individuals and highly responsive to the texts. Inner tensions are explored with selective use of vibrato to give ornamental and expressive weight, and there is a breathtakingly wide spectrum of colour and dynamic shading...What makes EXAUDI special to my ears is the red-blooded way in which they tackle this kind of text, line-editing their response and changing their expression within phrases to deliver maximum effect.
Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International
The vocal ensemble EXAUDI, directed by James Weeks, has selected works from the Fifth and Sixth Books of Madrigali a superb new disc (Winter & Winter). They sing with impeccable definition and accuracy, letting each dissonance burn and scorch until the ear longs for release.
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer
James Weeks: Mala Punica, Walled Garden
Winter & Winter
finespun music by James Weeks, performed by his peerless vocal ensemble Exaudi and the excellent instrumentalists of the Netherlands-based Hortus Ensemble…There’s a refinement and definition to the writing that sounds just right in Exaudi’s chiselled-but-definitely-not-chaste delivery.
Kate Molleson, The Guardian
BBC Proms: Open Ear, Tanks at Tate Modern
Standing head-and-shoulders above everything was Cassandra Miller’s Guide, which was inspired by a 1960 recording of a Southern Baptist hymn. The eight voices of the choir Exaudi recreated the hymn, each in their own way, creating a beautiful and moving sense of multitudes of voices raised in rapt, quiet praise.
John Allison, The Telegraph
Michael Finnissy: vocal works 1974-2015
Winter & Winter
Their breathtaking stamina never dies, no matter what contemporary composers hurl their way. Such as Michael Finnissy, a master of jagged onslaughts and the dissonant labyrinth, but a master too of the ruggedly expressive, certainly in his madrigal cycle Gesualdo: Libro Sesto, the new album’s highlight. Such is the power of these performances that after each work I felt I ought to plunge my head under a tap, then sit in silence for ten minutes.
Geoff Brown, The Times
Exaudi prove once again what a skilled ensemble they are, bringing vividly to life contemporary music of complexity, enabling listeners to understand and appreciate the composer’s vision.
Martin Cullingford, Gramophone (Editor's Choice)
This is one of those recordings where composer and performers seem uniquely matched. One senses a degree of commitment that is rare even from an ensemble that isn’t known for pulling its punches…the interplay of these sonorities really is extraordinary. That the essential character of all seven pieces can be recalled after just one hearing testifies to their impact and cogency. The cycle also shows that Exaudi’s virtuosity doesn’t just hit you between the eyes; it runs deep.
Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone