Our history


Our first performance takes place on 22nd February at St James-the-Less, Pimlico, London, featuring premieres by Michael Finnissy and Michael Zev Gordon, and music by Birtwistle, Schütz, Giovanni Gabrieli and James Weeks. In November, performances of Judith Weir’s Missa del Cid and music by Victoria take place in London and Cambridge. 


Our first performance at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in an SPNM showcase curated by Judith Weir; more concerts in London and Cambridge, including our first encounter with the music of Howard Skempton at the National Portrait Gallery.


Our first CD recording (Finnissy: Maldon and other choral works, for NMC) and our first radio broadcast (Richard Ayres: No.33 (Valentine Tregashian considers…) with ASKO Ensemble) at hcmf//. In between, concerts around the UK including our first performances of the music of Rihm, Scelsi and Lutyens – and more Skempton at NPG.


A year dominated by multiple performances of the complete a cappella choral music of Michael Tippett in his centenary – including our first performance at the Aldeburgh Festival – and the recording of a second NMC disc (Christopher Fox: A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory). We also give a programme based on Cage, Wolff, Machaut and the Ars Subtilior for the South Bank’s ‘Fresh’ series, visit Dartington for the first time, and give an all-Fox recital at Huddersfield to celebrate the launch of our portrait disc, and the composer’s 50th birthday.

“EXAUDI are proving themselves a very versatile group: this concert juxtaposed medieval and contemporary works, sung with the sort of precision that shows how, in some ways at least, vocal music has come full circle…” The Times, on ‘Intimate Leaves’ at South Bank


Two significant performances of contemporary classics bring us national attention: Ferneyhough’s Missa Brevis at the Aldeburgh Festival, recorded by the BBC and later released on NMC, and Xenakis’ Nuits at London’s Spitalfields Festival. Other highlights include residencies at Ryedale Festival and Dartington, and a double-bill of Cardew’s Ode Machines and Mažulis’ ajapajapam at Huddersfield. A third disc, of Elisabeth Lutyens’ choral music, is recorded for NMC.

“There are some performances that you know will be etched on your memory forever, such is their intensity and power. The EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, a group of young singers conducted by their founder James Weeks, sang Brian Ferneyhough’s 1969 Missa Brevis with thrilling commitment and immediacy, revealing this masterpiece of modernism to be among the great settings of these archetypal texts.” The Guardian, on Aldeburgh Festival

“If only more concerts were like this: focused, no fat, risky and brilliant.” The Times, on Spitalfields Festival


Our fourth NMC disc (Howard Skempton: Ben Somewhen) is recorded in partnership with BCMG. We make our first two trips abroad (Madrid and Girona) with programmes including Sciarrino, Nono, Rihm, Scelsi and James Dillon’s Hyades. Four performances at Aldeburgh across the year include Pärt’s Stabat Mater and Schütz Sieben Worte with Fretwork, Castligione Hymne, Sciarrino Tutti i miraggi delle acque, Monteverdi and Gesualdo.

“This is music that few people are likely to hear more than once, but if that one time is a performance by EXAUDI they are not likely to forget it. Where else are there sopranos like these, guaranteed to hit the notes other choral singers cannot reach?” Financial Times, on Aldeburgh Festival


Our first engagement at IRCAM (Ferneyhough vocal works) and a first collaboration with London Sinfonietta (Birtwistle: The Last Supper) in Milan. At home, a varied year includes Rihm Sieben Passions-texte and Xenakis Nuits at Aldeburgh, and two performances at hcmf// including a major new Fox commission, …comme ses paroles… The premiere of Evan Johnson’s colophons… at Spitalfields is restarted after fighting breaks out in the audience.

“On a windswept, stormy Saturday afternoon above the swollen Blyth estuary there was to be found an hour of perfection. Weather patterns, musical patterns, a superbly attentive and almost cough-free audience with a group of superb singers in the incomparable setting of Blythburgh church – such were the ingredients of this golden hour.” EADT, on Aldeburgh Easter Festival


We pair Cage with Machaut in Leeds, Rihm with Gesualdo in Bruges, and provide the solo voices for Stravinsky’s Threni with CBSO. A primary-school project in Snowdonia produces moving performances of Skempton and others in Bangor, and Birtwistle’s melancholic On the sheer threshold of the night is twinned with Dowland and Ward at Aldeburgh. Also at Aldeburgh we are honoured to be the first ensemble to perform in the new Britten Studio in May. Our long-running EXPOSURE series begins at BMIC’s Cutting Edge series at The Warehouse, with music by Amber Priestley, Stephen Chase, Claudia Molitor, Linda Catlin Smith and others. The year ends with Enno Poppe’s Interzone in Paris with EIC, conducted by Susanna Mälkki.

“The week-long blitz of contemporary music that was fuseleeds09 offered many attractions, but nothing could match the intimate surprises of this early evening gig by EXAUDI, the British vocal ensemble that delights in programming the unthinkable…” The Times, on fuseLeeds


The premiere performance of the reconstructed Etude pour Espace by Varèse (with London Sinfonietta) and our first collaboration with Parisian ensemble L’Instant Donné (Pesson: Cantate égale pays) are our most significant concerts this year. We also perform Boulez’ cummings ist der Dichter with CBSO at Aldeburgh, and Finnissy’s Maldon with London Sinfonietta in the QEH.

“…La précision vocale et la beauté sonore des cinq solistes de l’Ensemble Exaudi sont un plaisir” concerto.net on Agora Festival, Paris


International concerts take us across Europe, including Bilbao (Finnissy, Scelsi), Witten and Udine (Gervasoni Dir – In dir with L’Instant Donné), Ghent (Sciarrino and Monteverdi), San Sebastian (Posadas), Strasbourg (new Eötvös with Ensemble Modern), Paris (Cage Hymns and Variations) and Cyprus. At home we make our Wigmore Hall debut (Pärt Stabat Mater, with Endymion) and take part in one of our most extraordinary projects, at Sizewell A Nuclear Power Station, Suffolk, in Netia Jones’ concert-installation Everlasting Light, singing Ligeti (Nonsense Madrigals, Lux aeterna), Vicentino, Ockeghem, Gesualdo, Lassus and Scelsi. Among other UK concerts, we perform Monteverdi’s Third Book of Madrigals at Spitalfields, Cage’s Song Books at Aldeburgh with sound artist Bill Thompson and students from UEA, and premiere Matthew Shlomowitz at Kings Place.


Our 10th anniversary, and Cage’s 100th. Many of our concerts celebrate his work this year, from intimate 4-voice recitals in UK universities to an anarchic Musicircus at Aldeburgh, more Cage/Machaut mashups at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, and our first appearance at the BBC Proms, in Ilan Volkov’s epic commemorative event. We premiere Joanna Bailie at Kings Place, Aaron Cassidy at the South Bank, Bryn Harrison at Darmstadt, and Ferneyhough (Finis terrae, with musikFabrik) in Paris and Cologne. Also with musikFabrik are two performances of Rihm’s monumental Vigilia, in Munich and Huddersfield. We slip in performances of our long-running English madrigal and Song of Songs programmes in Cheltenham, Cambridge and London, and launch our new Italian Madrigal Book project, featuring ancient and brand-new Italian madrigals, at our 10th birthday concert at Wigmore Hall. We record a disc of EXPOSURE commissions and premieres for HCR. Two tours, of Gervasoni’s comic opera Limbus Limbo, and of Opera Erratica’s ‘holographic madrigal opera’ Toujours et près de moi, round off our busiest year.

“Ten years of singing by James Weeks and Juliet Fraser’s group EXAUDI were celebrated on Sunday. No birthday cake: the excitement lay in forthright voices scaling pitches where only supersonic jets should fly and treating all complexity as a stroll in the park…Harmonies in Gesualdo’s Merce! piangendo grido  had the venom of a poisonous snake, while Monteverdi’s Vattene pur, crudel had enough drama for a three-act play. In everything, the clear unaccompanied voices were unprotected if difficulties arose. None did.” The Times, on Wigmore Hall


A tour of Gervasoni’s Dir – In dir begins the year in France and Switzerland. We sing more Italian madrigals in Antwerp, Ferneyhough in Porto, and premiere Posadas’ Tenebrae with EIC in Paris and Cologne. We spend another week in Paris teaching at the Manifeste Academie and working with Heinz Holliger on his Nicht Ichts – nicht Nichts. There are significant premieres by Cassandra Miller, Rytis Mažulis and Evan Johnson at EXPOSURE2013, and we initiate what is to become a major ongoing focus on Gesualdo’s late madrigals at a concert at Wigmore Hall commemorating the 400th anniversary of his death. At hcmf// we premiere Michael Finnissy’s astonishing Gesualdo: Libro Sesto, based on these works.

“One emerges from an Exaudi concert as if from a Finnish sauna, rigorously scrubbed and massaged, all lingering harmonic sludge swept away. You feel healthy, pure and courageous.” The Times, on Wigmore Hall


Gesualdo and Finnissy tour to Toulouse, Sciarrino and Alex Hills to Bilbao. At home we visit the new Tectonics Festival in Glasgow, working with Christian Wolff on Ashbery Madrigals and other works. James Weeks’ MURAL premieres at Spitalfields, and we bring Brumel’s Earthquake Mass to Aldeburgh in the company of noise musician Russell Haswell. At the BBC Proms we sing Birtwistle’s luminous Meridian, and at EXPOSURE premiere new works by Laurence Crane and Michael Oesterle, among others.


A winter residency at Aldeburgh Music is the catalyst for an intense live broadcast of medieval and contemporary works from Wigmore Hall, featuring Finnissy’s Kelir and music by Holliger, Machaut, Scelsi and Léonin. We perform to an audience of eight in St David’s Hall, Cardiff, and to a sold-out Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, in Mark Simpson’s The Immortal. James Weeks’ Mala punica and Walled Garden are performed at Spitalfields, and we sing Terry Riley’s ecstatic Olsen III in Amsterdam and at Café OTO. A second Wigmore Hall concert in December pairs Schütz’s Geistliche Chormusik with Christopher Fox’s new Trostlieder. We begin our annual performances of Masters student compositions at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, which becomes a fixture in our calendar from hereon, and we also begin a new partnership with City University, London, as an Ensemble-in-Residence.

“War in heaven tore the air asunder. The angelic harmony of the virtuous collided with the snarling of bickering backbiters. And then the music went backwards and forwards at the same time in a wild skirmish of musical and mystical warfare. This was Angelorum psallat by one Rodericus (c1400), the climax of a remarkable evening of vocal virtuosity in extreme music, very old and very new. No one does it better than the eight-voice ensemble EXAUDI…” The Times, on Wigmore Hall


We celebrate our long-standing friend and collaborator Michael Finnissy’s 70th birthday with a special concert at Milton Court, London, performing Cipriano and the world premiere, 38 years after its composition, of Tom Fool’s Wooing. We revive Gérard Pesson’s Cantate égale pays with Ensemble L’Instant Donné in Witten and Paris and record it for CD release. We premiere Jürg Frey’s first work for EXAUDI, Shadow and Echo and Jade, at the Principal Sound Festival in St John’s, Smith Square, London, and works by Andrew Hamilton, Newton Armstrong and Leo Chadburn at EXPOSURE2016. We also collaborate on the UK premiere of Beat Furrer’s FAMA with London Sinfonietta, in London and Huddersfield.


A year dominated by explorations of the Italian Renaissance avant-garde: we return to Wigmore Hall for our 15th anniversary concert, a double-bill of Weeks-Arcadelt and Sciarrino-Monteverdi-Marenzio. At Aldeburgh we debut our Chromatic Renaissance programme, with Vicentino’s microtonal madrigal fragments at the centre; in November we tour to Luxembourg, Milan and Naples with our Italian Madrigal Book programme, focusing on Gervasoni and Sciarrino, whom we meet in Milan as part of his 70th birthday celebrations. We also sing Crane in Hull (PRSF’s New Music Biennial), Miller in the Tate Modern Tanks (BBC Proms) and Ansgar Beste in front of the bar in the RFH Foyer (Nordic Music Days). James Weeks’ Mala punica is released on Winter&Winter, the Munich-based label with whom we will begin an ongoing association.


At Principal Sound festival in London we premiere Linda Catlin Smith (Uncertain) and for the BBC’s Open Ear series we perform Oestlerle (All words), Amber Priestley and Lorenzo Pagliei. We are resident ensemble at Voix Nouvelles, Royaumont for a second time, also working with Sivan Eldar on a site-specific work for the abbey garden, and partner with Music Theatre Wales on a UK tour of Pascal Dusapin’s opera Passion. Finally we bring Sciarrino’s Carnaval to hcmf// for its UK premiere, with Explore Ensemble, and our second Michael Finnissy disc is released on Winter&Winter.


The year begins with recording sessions for our Gesualdo madrigals disc in Orford Church, Suffolk, for Winter&Winter. Our association with Durham University as an Ensemble-in-Residence launches with an Italian Madrigals concert and student composition workshops. We then visit Barcelona for a programme of Bryn Harrison, Catlin Smith, Frey and Feldman, and premiere Geoff Hannan’s Pocket Universe at EXPOSURE2019 in Milton Court, London. The holographic madrigal opera Toujours et près de moi tours to Rotterdam and Valletta, and we take part in the UK premiere of Larcher’s The Hunting Gun at the Aldeburgh Festival. Our first performance of Berio’s Sinfonia takes place with the Helsinki Philharmonic and Susanna Mälkki in Helsinki; in October, we launch our Gesualdo Madrigali disc, gaining a Deutsche Schallplattenkritik prize and being named as one of BBC Radio 3’s best releases of 2019.


After our annual visit to Durham – premiering Fox’s Canti del carcere as part of a Gesualdo programme – the pandemic scuppers most other plans; in October we manage a socially-distanced, three-person programme, lonesingness, as part of an online edition of Aberdeen’s Sound Festival, and also record Frey, Monk Feldman and Catlin Smith in Broadcasting House’s Radio Theatre, for the BBC’s New Music Show.


Gradually the musical world comes back to life – our first project back is the recording and filming of James Weeks’ Book of Flames and Shadows in Orford in April. We then celebrate Laurence Crane’s 60th at Milton Court in May, and broadcast our Chromatic Renaissance programme live from Wigmore Hall. In spite of pandemic travel uncertainty, we make it to Cologne for a Gesualdo concert and again to Royaumont for Voix Nouvelles in August. In the Autumn we return to Paris for a performance of Boulez’ cummings ist der Dichter with EIC, visit the Listenpony series in London with new pieces by William Marsey and Louise Drewett, and record Fox for a new Kairos release (Trostlieder).


Our twentieth anniversary year begins in Durham Cathedral (Worboys: Presence/Absence), and continues in Ghent and Barcelona with Gesualdo-based programmes, before touring to the Wittener Tage with three new works by Mikel Urquiza, Chiyoko Szlavnics and Naomi Pinnock; these, plus a major new work by Lorenzo Pagliei (Marea flusso deriva) are repeated at hcmf// in November. In July we record Jürg Frey at the dead of night. At EXPOSURE2022 we premiere Josh Levine, Simone Corti and Sylvia Lim, and our 20th anniversary concert at Kings Place in December features premieres from Gloria Coates and Brendan Champeaux, alongside new arrangements of Hildegard hymns by James Weeks.


Our residency in Durham continues with an instalment of our Chromatic Renaissance programme; next we give the UK premiere of Eugene Birman’s controversial ‘documentary opera’ Russia: Today at Kings Place, and premiere associated pieces by Martyn Harry at Pushkin House, London. In March we contribute to online campaigning on behalf of the threatened BBC Singers – with whom we now share five members – with at least temporary success. We visit Tenerife for Berio Sinfonia and Gesualdo madrigals; at EXPOSURE we premiere Lawrence Dunn and Paul Newland, and return to the Aldeburgh Festival with Cassandra Miller (Guide), Michael Finnissy (Cipriano), Lutyens, Gibbons and Marenzio. We record music by Ansgar Beste in July. In November we visit Wien Modern, premiering Isabel Mundry with PHACE Ensemble, and celebrate Jürg Frey’s 70th at hcmf//.