The Tallis Scholars was founded in 1973 by its director, Peter Phillips. Through the group’s recordings and concert performances, it has established itself as the leading exponent of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world. Peter Phillips has worked with the ensemble to create, through good tuning and blend, the purity and clarity of sound he feels best serves the Renaissance repertoire, allowing every detail of the musical lines to be heard. It is the resulting beauty of sound for which the ensemble has become so widely renowned.
The Tallis Scholars performs in both sacred and secular venues, giving around 80 concerts each year. In 2013, the group celebrated its 40th anniversary with a world tour, performing 99 events in 80 venues in 16 countries.
The ensemble now looks ahead to its 50th anniversary in 2023–24. In 2020, Gimell Records celebrated 40 years of recording the group by releasing a remastered version of the 1980 recording of Allegri’s Miserere. As of the beginning of the cancellations caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the Tallis Scholars had made 2,327 appearances, worldwide.
Current season highlights include performances in Australia, New York and Boston, Amsterdam, Zurich, and Paris; tours of Italy; a number of appearances in London; and the group’s usual touring schedule around the USA, Europe, and the UK. In a monumental project to mark Josquin des Prez’ 500th anniversary celebrations, the Tallis Scholars sang all 18 of the composer’s masses over the course of four days at the Boulez Saal in Berlin in July 2022.
Recordings by the Tallis Scholars have attracted many international awards. In 1987, the group’s recording of Josquin’s Missa La sol fa re mi and Missa Pange lingua was named Gramophone magazine’s Record of the Year, the first recording of early music ever to earn this coveted honor. In 1989, the French magazine Diapason gave two of its Diapason d’Or de l’Année awards for the recordings of a mass and motets by Lassus and for Josquin’s two masses based on the chanson “L’Homme armé.” The recording of Palestrina’s Missa Assumpta est Maria and Missa Sicut lilium received Gramophone’s Early Music Award in 1991; the group received the 1994 Early Music Award for its recording of music by Cipriano de Rore; and the same distinction again came in 2005 for a disc of music by John Browne. The was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2001, 2009, and 2010. In November 2012, its recording of Josquin’s Missa De beata virgine and Missa Ave maris stella received a Diapason d’Or de l’Année and in the group’s 40th anniversary year, it was welcomed into the Gramophone “Hall of Fame’ by public vote. In a departure for the ensemble, during the spring of 2015, the Tallis Scholars released a disc of music by Arvo Pärt called Tintinnabuli, which received great praise worldwide. The group’s latest recording of Josquin masses, including Missa Hercules Dux Ferrarie, was released in November 2020, winning the BBC Music Magazine’s much coveted Recording of the Year Award and the Gramophone Early Music Award in 2021. This disc was the last of nine albums in the group’s project to record and release all Josquin’s masses before the 500th anniversary of the composer’s death in 2021.