Antony has over 30 years’ experience in choral directing, founding TONUS PEREGRINUS while at New College, Oxford, and leading The Song Company, Australia’s national vocal ensemble, as Artistic Director for seven years. He is skilled in inspiring confidence and bringing out the best in all he works with, nurturing singers’ development through community workshops and training programs for emerging artists. Amateur and professional singers alike can refine their skills through Antony’s intimate musical knowledge, unique approach to historically informed performance from original notation, and extensive performance and recording experience in diverse genres. Antony is the inaugural William Byrd Fellow at Excelsia College in Sydney.
Antony Pitts was born in 1969 and is an international composer, conductor, sound designer, lecturer, developer, broadcaster, recording producer, and keyboard player, and recipient of the Radio Academy BT Award, the Cannes Classical Award, and the Prix Italia. One of several composers in his family, he sang as a treble in the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace, and wrote his first pieces down at the age of 8. At New College, Oxford, he was an Academic Scholar and later an Honorary Senior Scholar; he gained the joint highest mark in Moderations and First-Class Honours in Music. While still at New College, he founded TONUS PEREGRINUS, which today is an established ensemble in Britain and abroad, with a significant discography on Hyperion and Naxos. In 2004, Antony won a Cannes Classical Award for his interpretation of Arvo Pärt’s Passio with the ensemble.
In 2016, Antony moved to Australia to take up the role of Artistic Director of Australia’s national vocal ensemble, The Song Company, leading the ensemble for seven years. The following year, he established The Song Company’s SongCo LABs, in which emerging artists and accomplished amateurs took part in workshops, masterclasses, and ensemble singing alongside The Song Company’s artists. This was followed by the inception of the Ensemble Artist and Apprentice Programs, which provided further training, mentoring, and performance opportunities for emerging artists, including a rare opportunity to perform Antoine Brumel’s 12-part ‘Earthquake’ Mass from the original choirbook notation. Under Antony’s leadership, The Song Company explored new directions and collaborations, including commissioning many young and emerging Australian composers, and working together across genres and artforms as diverse as a progressive metal band from Melbourne, The Omnific, to Shakespeare scholar Professor Gary Watt. As well as working closely with and encouraging Indigenous creative artists and composers, The Song Company expanded its discography and filmography, including a vinyl album featuring an a cappella version of Gavin Bryars’s Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet and Antony’s own 25-part motet in homage to a canon from the Eton Choirbook, Transiens, and a semi-staged version of Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum in Circle of Virtue.
Antony’s music has been premièred at Wigmore Hall and Westminster Cathedral in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal in Berlin, as well as at more unusual venues and occasions such as Crossness Engines Pumping Station and the memorial events for former Soviet agent Alexander Litvinenko; his scores are published by 1equalmusic and Faber Music – notably XL, the companion 40-part motet to Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium – and recordings of his music, including several complete albums, are available on Challenge Records, Delphian, Hyperion, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Novum, Signum, and Unknown Public, and he has a considerable output of radiophonic works and acoustic art commissioned by and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and across the EBU. Antony’s oratorio-musical Jerusalem-Yerushalayim received a standing ovation both at its first performance in Northern Ireland and at its U.S. première in May 2012, and a specially abridged version of the work was premièred at the Australian Jewish Choral Festival in 2022. A studio recording under his direction, featuring TONUS PEREGRINUS, was remixed with narration by David Suchet and released in a remastered Jubilee Edition in 2022. Recent commissions include pieces for the Choir of New College, Oxford and a 50-part motet, XLX – Mente cordis sui, for Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, which premièred at Sydney Opera House in 2019. Antony is currently working with Adrian Self on a music theatre piece called The Process, inspired by Kafka, starlings, and social media, and completing his monumental Requiem for the Time of the End.
photocredit: Nick Gilbert