Patrick Allies goes from church spires to mixed choirs

Patrick Allies is a choirmaster with an eclectic CV

With an architect and art historian for parents, Patrick Allies spent his childhood being taken to see churches – to the point where they left their mark. Indelibly. ‘I didn’t want to be a priest’, he says, ‘so that left choral music’.

Starting as a boy treble at the Temple, he sang through his student years and spent 2010 as part of the first ever intake to Cambridge’s new, postgraduate choral studies department. Now he’s seriously in business as choir director with four ensembles to his name and a fifth about to start in January. Which isn’t bad for someone in his early 20s.

They’re a mixed collection, ranging from community choirs in Lambeth and Waltham Cross to an inner-city office choir whose repertoire embraces Dolly Parton.

But by complete contrast, he also runs - out of his parents’ house in Hampstead - a professional ensemble by the name of Siglo de Oro: a reference to the self-styled ‘Golden Age’ of 16th Century Spanish music typified by high-renaissance masters like Guerrero and Victoria.

Allies launched the choir in 2008, when he was all of 20; and to date its focus has been on the music its name suggests. But now Siglo de Oro is branching out – for a seasonal performance of Handel’s Messiah in Hampstead next week.

The notion of Messiah as a branching-out piece may sound silly; but as Allies says, ‘compared with what we normally sing, it’s modern. And we’re doing it in an exploratory, chamber-scale way, with just 13 voices and the same number of instrumentalists’.

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In other words, it won’t be like Messiahs at the Albert Hall. This will be intimate, forensic, and (Allies insists) something to ‘challenge people’s expectations of the piece’. He doesn’t mention pleasure, but I’m sure that’s on the schedule too.

Siglo de Oro’s Messiah at St Stephen’s Rosslyn Hill, Wed 7 7.30pm. 07984 449 937.