Swedish conductor Sofi Jeannin has been appointed as chief conductor of the BBC Singers, effective from July 2018.
Jeannin succeeds David Hill, who has been chief conductor for ten years (2007-17). Paul Hughes, the ensemble’s general manager, praised Hill’s ‘inspired leadership’ and confirmed that the ensemble would continue to work with him in future.
Before taking up the role, Jeannin will conduct the BBC Singers in a number of performances in the UK, including a special ‘Reformation Day’ concert as part of the 2017 BBC Proms in August and a programme of Handel with St James’ Baroque at Milton Court Concert Hall in May 2018.
Born in Stockholm, Sofi Jeannin studied music both in Sweden and France before gaining her MMus in choral conducting at the Royal College of Music, where she received lessons from Paul Spicer.
She has prepared choirs for Sir David Willcocks, Bernard Haitink and Peter Schreier, taught choral singing at the RCM Junior Department and sang with London Voices and Terry Edwards before pursuing as a professor of choral conducting at the Conservatoire Albéric Magnard in Évry, France.
She has been musical director of la Maîtrise de Radio France since 2008, and in 2015 was appointed musical director of the French Radio Chorus, the largest professional symphonic chorus in Europe.
She has developed a full-time choir school in the city of Bondy, north France, where she has musical and pedagogical responsibility of 180 choristers, has worked with the chorus and orchestra of Kinshasa, Congo, and is involved in El Sistema Greece. She regularly gives workshops and masterclasses around the world and has set up a new course of choral conducting at the Paris conservatoire.
Describing herself as ‘thrilled and deeply honoured’, Jeannin said: ‘The BBC Singers represent a performance level which is any conductor’s dream – they are a truly marvellous group and working with them is a joyful experience. The values of excellence, of a rich and varied season, of the closeness with the audiences in the halls and through our radio broadcasts are missions that one cannot treat lightly. To be entrusted with these responsibilities within the BBC is inspiring and humbling.’
Paul Hughes predicted ‘exciting times’ for the ensemble, adding: ‘The range of [Jeannin’s] experience and the exacting standards she demands have produced thrilling results with the Singers and I am absolutely delighted to welcome Sofi in her new role.