Stephen Darlington is one of the country’s leading choral conductors. He was Director of Music and Tutor in Music at Christ Church from 1985 to 2018. Previously he was Master of the Music at St. Alban’s Abbey and artistic director of the world-famous International Organ Festival. At Christ Church he maintained the highest choral traditions of the Church of England in the Cathedral whilst also developing the College as a centre of academic musical excellence. An extensive discography, comprising over sixty CDs, includes several award-winning recordings. Stephen has travelled worldwide both with Christ Church choir and as an organist and conductor, directing, amongst others, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, London Mozart Players, English Chamber Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, Hanover Band, English String Orchestra, London Musici, Oxford Baroque and Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also in demand as a visiting lecturer, in particular at the Universities of Western Australia, Melbourne and Sydney the College Conservatory in Cincinnati and at the University of Bordeaux. He has collaborated with distinguished contemporary composers such as Judith Weir, John Tavener, Howard Goodall, Robert Saxton, Francis Grier, Gabriel Jackson and Mark Simpson. Stephen was President of the Royal College of Organists from 2000 to 2002 and until recently was Choragus of the University of Oxford. He is the holder of a Lambeth Doctorate in Music and is the Chairman of the Ouseley Trust. He is also an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music and Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. He was awarded an M.B.E in the New Years Honours List, 2019.
Under his direction, Christ Church Cathedral Choir’s tonal quality has been praised and admired throughout the world from Sydney to Rio de Janeiro, from Tokyo to New York, from Helsinki to Paris, from Beijing to Toronto. Over the years Stephen’s work with the choir has provided a perfect platform for singers to progress to other award-winning choral groups such as the BBC Singers, The Sixteen, King’s Singers, Tallis Scholars and Cardinall’s Musick as well as to solo careers in oratorio, opera and musical theatre. Stephen also engaged the choir in challenging collaborative initiatives in the UK and internationally. On recent tours, in addition to performing its own programmes, the choir worked intensively alongside local community choirs in Portugal, Jamaica, Bermuda the USA and China, culminating in successful and memorable joint concerts. Notable festival performances have included the Aldeburgh Festival, Flanders Festival, the Leipzig Bach Festival and the Göttingen Handel Festival. Stephen has performed in all the major concert halls in the U.K. as well as in prestigious venues throughout the world.
During Stephen’s tenure, Christ Church Cathedral Choir have built a lasting legacy of groundbreaking recordings which have excited the critics and the listening public over the last thirty years. There have been many awards, including a Grammy nomination for An Oxford Elegy by Vaughan Williams. More recently, the choir recorded five volumes of music from the Eton Choirbook to great critical acclaim, recently released as a box set. Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light: A Requiem with London Musici (EMI Classics) won a Classical BRIT Award in 2010. Other recordings with orchestra include Mendelssohn’s arrangement of Handel’s Acis and Galatea (with Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra) and Francesco Durante’s Requiem in C minor (with Oxford Baroque) which was released in November 2016 on the Coro label. Stephen’s recording of Goodall’s major work, Invictus: A Passion was released on the same label in the autumn of 2018 and was Critics’ Choice of favourite recording of 2018 in Gramophone magazine.
Stephen has also developed a strong media profile on television, featuring as conductor in over sixteen documentaries in the last fifteen years.