Conductor, Organist, Musicologist, and Recording Artist
Stephen Darlington is one of the United Kingdom’s leading choral conductors. He was Director of Music and Tutor in Music at Christ Church, Oxford, from 1985 to 2018, and will serve as the Interim Director of Music for The Choir of St. John's, Cambridge, in 2023 . 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 while also developing the College as a center of academic musical excellence. He was awarded a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by The Queen in the New Year Honours List, 2019.
Under his direction, Christ Church Cathedral Choir’s tonal quality was 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 programs, 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 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 favorite recording of 2018 in Gramophone magazine.
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. In March 2023, he will be the soloist for the Poulenc Organ Concerto with Nuremberg Symphony 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.
Stephen has a strong media profile on television, featuring in numerous documentaries and as conductor for television and film scores.
As Director of Music at Christ Church, Oxford (England), Stephen built a choral legacy revered for its excellence around the world.
His choral recordings and features as conductor for television and film scores have garnered awards including a Grammy nomination for his recording of An Oxford Elegy by Vaughan Williams.