Russell (Brian) Burgess (1931-79) was appointed Director of Music in 1954 at this south London comprehensive school and formed a choir of about 240 boys which gave its first public concert in 1965. The choir's choral forces range from the Full Choir, through the Semichorus with 60 voices, down to the Consort of only 20. The tenor and bass parts are sung by older pupils whose voices have changes, reinforced by a few staff and Old Boys of the School.
The choir sang at London concerts and at the Holland Festival and the Aldeburgh Festival, as well as making broadcsts and gramophone recordings. The Choir has won itself an enviable reputation in the musical world by its numerous performances with leading orchestras both in England and in the Netherlands, where, in 1967, they were engaged to sing Britten's "War Requiem" under Bernard Haitink with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam for the Holland Festival.
It is with the music of Benjamin Britten that the choir has become closely associated, and it has sung many times at the Royal Festival Hall with the New Philharmonia, the London Symphony and the London Philharmonic Orchestras, under such conductors as Solti, Kartesz, Haitin, Frübeck de Burgos, Colin Davis, Giulini and Britten himeslf. The choir have performed the Berlioz "Te Deum" in St. Paul's Cathedral as part of the City of London Festival and at the new Maltings Concert Hall in Snape.
Burgess died at the age of 48 in August 1979. The choir was disbanded in 1985.
Wandsworth School Boys' Choir Benjamin Britten (1913-76): War Requiem (op. 66, 1962; wds from Missa pro defunctis (in Latin) & the poems of the First World War English poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), ed. Blunden (1931)). Recording in stereo of a broadcast public performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 6 April 1969 with Stefania Woytowicz (sop.), Peter Pears (ten.), Hans Wilbrink (bar.), Wandsworth School Boys' Choir, Melos Ensemble under Britten, New Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus, cond. Carlo Maria Giulini. Review in "Gramophone" (Jan. 2001) considered that this performance had not been bettered on record, the Wandsworth Choir were unsurpassed & Pears even greater than on the Decca recording.
Robin FairhurstDavid HemmingsMichael IngramLyn Vaughan Wandsworth School Boys' Choir A recording made in 1955 by Alleyn's School Choir / English Opera Group Orchestra with David Hemmings (as Sam), Jennifer Vyvyan, Nancy Evans, April Cantelo, Trevor Anthony, Sir Peter Pears, Michael Ingram [Michael Crawford] (as Gay Brook), Marilyn Baker, Robin Fairhurst (as Jonny Crome), Lyn Vaughan, Gabrielle Soskin,
Conducted by Benjamin Britten
The Golden Vanity. Mark Emney (treb) Captain; John Wojciechowski (treb) Bosun; Barnaby Jago (treb) Cabin-boy; Adrian Thompson (treb) Captain; Terry Lovell (treb) Bosun; Benjamin Britten (pf); Wandsworth Boys' Choir / Russell Burgess.
Wandsworth School Boys' Choir This was Benjamin Britten's only opera for television and was one of his later works. It is based on Henry James's short story about a man who comes from a soldiering family but who rebels against it and becomes a pacifist. It is about his struggle against his arrogant and hateful relatives.