The Cambridge Singers are a general repertoire mixed-voice choir, one of the best known in the compact disc era, who were formed in 1981 by John Rutter. Rutter, born in 1945, has spent his life in choral music. He was a chorister (boy singer) in Highgate School, and was a choral scholar at Clare College, Cambridge. (Choral scholars are students of the given college who receive a scholarship after winning an audition for the college's chapel choir. While the student may be pursuing a degree in any subject, they receive a strong music education as part of it, and are granted the degree in return for participating in daily services at the college chapel during the school term.) Rutter went on to become Director of Music at Clare College from 1975 to 1979. While still a student he had begun composing, and it was to allow time for composition that he resigned his position at the College.
In 1981 he founded the Cambridge Singers expressly as a professional chamber choir for recording sessions. The initial nucleus of the group comprised seven former members of the Clare College Choir. All additional members had also been choral scholars in British colleges.
In 1984 Rutter founded the Collegium Records label for the express purpose of recording the Cambridge Singers. This was at the very beginning of the compact disc era, and the Cambridge Singers had one of the first major successes for a small independent label in their recording of the original orchestration of Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, and other music by Fauré. The choir's beauty of tone and the exemplary recording established both the label and the choir as top representatives of their type. Soon Collegium released the Singers in a recording of John Rutter's own Requiem, a work much in the vein of the Fauré work, consolidating the reputation of the choir and the label, and arousing world-wide interest in Rutter's choral compositions, many of which are now frequently performed by choirs around the world.
The Cambridge Singers are still primarily a recording ensemble, but they do make concert and church appearances. "Cambridge Singers" is also the name of a well-regarded concert choir in the Los Angeles, California area, based in the city of Pasadena. ~ Joseph Stevenson