SIR Stephen Cleobury
Conductor & organisT
Sir Stephen Cleobury died in York, the city to which he and his family had recently retired, on St Cecilia's Day,
22 November 2019. His funeral took place in York Minster on 6 December, the Feast of St Nicholas – to whom King's College Chapel is dedicated. A memorial service will be held at King's College Chapel next year.
"The death of Stephen Cleobury last November, two months after he had ended his 37 years as Music Director of King's College, Cambridge, can without fear of exaggeration be described as the end of an era." Gramophone
"If for nothing else, Stephen Cleobury should go down as the man who really recharged the writing of contemporary choral music – not just the Christmas carol, but the fact that his commissioning has affected how people write choral music. In all four corners of the globe people switch on the radio on Christmas Eve and hear a new piece of music." Jeremy Summerly, CD Review, Radio 3, 1 December 2018
Stephen Cleobury was for thirty seven years been associated with one of the world’s most famous choirs, that of King’s College, Cambridge. His work at King’s brought him into fruitful relationships with many leading orchestras and soloists, among them the Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Philharmonia, Britten Sinfonia, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and the distinguished ensemble, Endymion, and he worked with many artists – singers and instrumentalists – of international repute. He complemented and refreshed his work in Cambridge through the many other musical activities in which he engaged.
"Yet the quality of this choir may result not just from the innate character of boys’ voices but also from the approach to vocal training and music-making the ensemble has preserved ... On this night, Mr. Cleobury coaxed singing of great vigor, color and character from the choristers ... [who] made every word crisp and clear and sent the phrase soaring." New York Times, April 2019
"Presiding over the lengthy and well-chosen program was the choir’s genial music director, Stephen Cleobury, who occasionally offered some charming informal commentary on the music. And what music! ... The singers have mastered the music so completely that many of them glanced only occasionally at their scores, focusing instead on Cleobury’s expressive hands and clear indications." Seattle Times, March 2017
"The restrained and precise, but passionate leadership of Stephen Cleobury, one of the world's most highly regarded choral directors, always kept the music itself centre stage."
Review of concert in Hong Kong, August 2016
"There was a deserved five-minute standing ovation at the end of the performance, and especially for Stephen Cleobury who responded with characteristic modesty." Dream of Gerontius, Cambridge Evening News, June 2016
"Stephen Cleobury – minimum fuss but maximum impact at Seattle Symphony’s ‘Baroque and Wine’ concert." Seattle Times, February 2016
"Stephen Cleobury is on peak form... These are outstanding performances by a great musician." Gramophone Magazine, August 2015
Ophelia Redpath's painting used for the cover of the
Cambridge Summer Music Festival in 2015, which
featured prominent Cambridge characters from
Henry VIII to Sir Stephen Cleobury.