The Renaissance Society

The Renaissance Singers

Michael Howard

The Renaissance Society was founded in 1944 to promote the understanding and appreciation of plainchant, Renaissance polyphony and other types of vocal and instrumental music from the period. The founder was Michael Howard who was later to achieve distinction as the Organist and Master of the Choristers at Ely cathedral before holding other prestigious posts in the musical world.

The Renaissance Singers was formed at the same time as the performing arm of the Society, and apart from a period of silence in the 1980s has maintained an impressive schedule of concerts. Many recordings have been made-the last in February 1998. 
The success of the Singers is evidenced by the detailed and fascinating archive dating from July 1944, but it took 55 years for a wider role for the Society to emerge. 

In 1999 Saeculum was launched as a festival of early music and is the first major activity undertaken by the Society other than the running of the Renaissance Singers. The immediate success of Saeculum meant that in 2000 the scope was broadened beyond the running of a single annual weekend event and now Saeculum events take place throughout the year. They include cultural events beyond the staging concerts and include workshops for musicians and the appreciation of wine and art.

Aims and Objectives

The Rules and Constitution of the Society state the following objectives;

The objects of the Society shall be to promote, improve, develop and maintain education in and appreciation of the art and science of music in all its aspects, and in particular the sacred music, polyphony and plainchant, of the Renaissance Period, by the presentation of public concerts and recitals, the running of workshops, festivals, and by such other ways as the Society through its other suitable media committee shall determine from time to time.


The Renaissance Society's legal status is a Society with charitable status.

The Renaissance Singers is also a Society and achieved charitable status in 1994: Registration number: 101953


The Renaissance Society is structured as follows:

  • Chairman: Alistair Dixon
  • Treasurer: Anthony Damer
  • Secretary: Alison Burroughes
  • Artistic Director: vacant

The non-executive board comprises:

  • President: The Earl of Harewood


  • John Whitworth
  • Howard Williams
  • Bruno Turner
  • Stephen Willis
  • Michael Procter

The membership of the society comprises:

  • Life members
  • All members of the Renaissance Singers
  • All "Friends" of the Renaissance Singers

The Renaissance Singers

The Renaissance Singers is the performing arm of the Society, and is registered as a charity in its own right. Admission is by audition and the choir rehearses weekly during term time, giving six performances each year. In addition, workshops and some open rehearsals are hosted to encourage amateur singers who are not members of the choir to participate in discovering new repertoire from the Renaissance.

In the last few years the choir has made trips abroad to give concerts in Germany, France, Ireland, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Italy, and their warm reception in these countries is a reflection of the high esteem in which English choirs, both amateur and professional, are held on the continent.

In the programming of concerts, great emphasis is laid on the investigation of newly discovered works from the Renaissance period. The Singers have always valued the scholarly input of its members and directors,

The Friends of Renaissance Singers

In 1996 the Renaissance Singers founded the Friends scheme which enables regular audience members and singers who are not members of the choir to purchase tickets at a discount and participate in special activities that the Singers stage such as workshops, talks etc.


Saeculum operates as a Company limited by Guarantee.

The Renaissance Society is a registered charity number: 1073980