What makes a great vocal ensemble?



Alamire (photo: courtesy of the ensemble)

It’s not the number of years they’ve been on the scene, yet that helps.

It’s not the size of their discography, as impressive as that might appear.

It’s not the fame that surrounds the director, which certainly contributes.

So what’s left?

I think it has everything to do with what goes on in rehearsal (and, naturally, in performance). Take, for example, the vocal ensemble Alamire (David Skinner, dir.), a personal favorite of mine among a formidable line-up of younger and well-established groups based in Britain.

Here they are singing through a work by John Taverner (Quemadmodum, part two) at some point during a rehearsal.


The performance is magical, captivating, and evocative—everything this music should be.

Had I not told you it’s just a rehearsal, you might assume that it came from one of their recordings. And yet it didn’t.

That’s because Alamire is, without question, a great vocal ensemble.

Learn more: Alamire website

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  • Chtellez

    Beautiful indeed. Hopefully we’ll get reactions on the details of the singing, such as intonation, blend versus identity of the lines, diction, phrasing, and the choice of acoustical setting. Thanks for posting!!