Our History

The Glasgow School of Art Choir was formed in January 2012 by Jamie Sansbury, at that time a third year architecture student, to provide somewhere for people at The Glasgow School of Art to come together and perform. The principle aim of the choir was to provide an audition-free ensemble that performs to a standard far above that of an average amateur group: this remains the primary objective of the ensemble to the present day.

At the choir’s first public performance there were 16 members but membership has risen steadily since its formation and we now have 115 singers who come from a variety of GSA backgrounds, from all three schools, as well as teaching and support staff, and alumni; in addition to people not affiliated with the institution.

In addition to performances twice a year as part of The Glasgow School of Art Concerts Series, the choir has performed at numerous other GSA events – including Sauchieholiday, Degree Show 2012 and numerous Burns Suppers – as well as the opening and closing events of the ELIA 2014 Conference as part of a joint choir alongside students from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

In April 2014 the choir performed the world premiere of “Making It New” at the official opening of the Reid Building at the GSA. The piece was commissioned by the choir especially for the event, with funding from Creative Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art. The piece was composed by Ken Johnston with lyrics by the then Scots Makar, Liz Lochhead.

In 2015 the choir was invited to perform at the EAIE Conference ‘Scottish Reception’ at The Old Fruitmarket.

The choir features on singer-songwriter, Raymond Meade’s album, ‘Whydolise?’, performing the final track, ‘Shine a Light on Me’; and the ensemble has also recorded the soundtrack to artist, Serena Korda’s exhibition, “Hold fast, stand sure, I scream a revolution” which was shown as part of the Glasgow International Festival in 2016.

In 2016 the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) awarded charitable status to the choir, and the ensemble became a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), No: SC046420.

In May 2016 the choir performed alongside Glasgow-based band, “A New International” at St. Luke’s, providing backing vocals for the group as well as performing a set individually. In June that year the ensemble recorded “Light Through Tall Windows”, a new choral work written about the Mackintosh Building, in the Mackintosh Library. The piece, written as a response to the fire which partially damaged the Mackintosh Building in 2014, was written as a collaboration between two GSA alumni and was released as a CD single in early 2017 to raise money for the Mackintosh Campus Appeal. It is available to order now from the choir shop.

In September 2016 the choir was selected as one of seven ensembles to take part in the 2016/17 Adopt a Composer scheme, which pairs amateur ensembles with a composer for one year, facilitating a series of workshops resulting in a brand new commission composed especially for the ensemble. The world première performance is recorded by BBC Radio 3 for broadcast during the following year. The GSA Choir worked in conjunction with Glasgow-based composer, Shona Mackay, whose new choral work, “Continuum”, was premièred at the choir’s fifth anniversary concert in May 2017. Adopt a Composer is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, and funded by PRS for Music Foundation and the Philip and Dorothy Green Music Trust.

In October 2017 the Glasgow School of Art Choir announced that it had commissioned composer, Jay Capperauld – one of Scotland’s most exciting and respected young composers – to compose a new choral work for the ensemble, to be premièred in Glasgow on 19 May 2018. Lyrics for the work come from the final stanza of Edwin Morgan’s love poem, “The Unspoken”, and the commission was made possible through the Buy a Bar of Music Campaign.

In 2019 the choir will be performing a specially commissioned choral work by renowned composer Sir James MacMillan, CBE, which will be premiered in the Mackintosh Building as part of the re-opening celebrations once the building has been restored, following the devastating fire in May 2014. The project has been made possible with the help of funding from Creative Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust and The Glasgow School of Art.