The Parliament Choir was founded in 2000 as a result of a conversation between Lord Filkin and Simon Over (then music director of St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster). The conversation focused on the difficulty experienced by Peers and Members of Parliament in joining a regular choir, because of the requirement to work in Parliament in the evenings, when most other choirs rehearse.
From that conversation, and subsequent discussions with other parliamentarians, a small choir was formed. Weekly rehearsals were held, with Simon Over as the choir's first music director, in St. Mary Undercroft, the chapel within Parliament. The choir gave its first public performance in St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, on 6th December 2000, singing Handel’s ‘Messiah’ with Emma Kirkby as soprano soloist.
Since then the Parliament Choir has expanded hugely both in numbers and in repertoire. Currently there are around 150 members, drawn mainly from the ranks of Peers, MPs and staff working in the Houses of Parliament. Those who have monitored its progress since the early days say that its standard of singing and performance has improved beyond recognition – this despite the fact that the choir has never auditioned its parliamentary members.
In 2010, its 10th anniversary year, the Parliament Choir performed for the first time within the Palace of Westminster (the official name for the parliament buildings), singing Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ and O’Neill’s ‘Of All Persons and Estates’ in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace. In November 2010, the choir took on one of its biggest challenges to date, in giving two performances of Benjamin Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ – the first in Coventry Cathedral on 13th November, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the Cathedral, and the second in Westminster Cathedral, London, on 17th November. 2014 and 2018 - with Bundestag Choir ... In 2020 …