In 2014, the Netherlands Chamber Choir was rehearsing a Psalm set by Benjamin Britten in Amsterdam’s Waalse Kerk. Not far from where they sang, Managing Director Tido Visser was viewing the church’s exhibition about the history of its adjoining monastery. It was there he learnt that in the late-15th and early-16th centuries, its monks used to recite all 150 Psalms over the course of a single day. When that became impractical, the 150 recitations began to take place over a week. The cogs started whirring, and he soon alighted upon an idea.
Clockwise from top left: The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, Netherlands Chamber Choir, The Song Company and The Tallis Scholars. Photos © The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, Kasimir Szekeres, Nick Rutter and Oscar Smith
“I thought to myself, there must now be hundreds of musical settings of Psalms by different composers. Virtually every composer from the past thousand years has set a Psalm to music. So wouldn’t it be amazing to hear a choir perform all 150 Psalms by 150 different composers in a similar timeframe? It would be like a monument to choral music.”
Energised by the boldness of such an undertaking,...