Choral Conducting - Winner 2015
Gregory Batsleer’s involvement with choral singing began at age the age of nine as a member of the Manchester Boys Choir, an open-access secular choir incorporating a diverse repertoire and which toured both nationally and internationally.
The Manchester Boys Choir proved a formative experience for such a young vocalist, one of his highlights included being chosen at 11 to perform as a solo treble at La Fenice in Venice. In spite of later becoming immersed in the distinctive collegiate traditions and practices of UK-based choral singing while studying at school in Manchester and at Princeton University, his early experience (which so differed from the organist-choirmasters who directed the leading cathedral/collegiate choirs) had a profound effect on his development as a choral conductor.
Gregory began practicing as a conductor when he was studying in Princeton. He returned to the UK in 2008 to co-found and Musically Direct the Manchester Consort as well as taking up the role of Director of the Hallé Youth Choir. Gregory went on to direct and lead the Manchester University Chorus made up of a mixture of music students at the University and non-auditioned singers from the wider public. He graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2012, where he majored vocal studies.
His aim within his work as a Choral Conductor is, he explains, “to explore how choral singers and choirs can best use thier voices as instruments to express and communicate the wide range and complex set of emotions and values we have in music”.
His role as the Artistic Director of the National Portrait Choir (the UK’s only in-house choir in a UK gallery) has given him an opportunity to develop such ambitions with a wide-ranging repertoire and regular new commissions such as Ben Parry’s setting of Swinburne’s ‘Music:An Ode’. The Portrait Choir's recent performances of a specially created production entitled ‘Anonymity’, supporting the gallery’s commemoration of WW1, was praised for its innovative use of text, song, performance and portraiture to create a piece which worked to use each art form to its advantage and strengthen the emotional impact of the performance.
Gregory holds the post of Artistic Director of the Portrait Choir along with his position as Chorus director at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, a position he has held since 2009. In January 2015 he also became Chorus Director with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.