Founded in 1964 by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and having celebrated its 50th Anniversary, Coro Gulbenkian has a full symphonic formation of around 100 singers, but it can also appear as a smaller vocal ensemble, according to the nature of the performed musical works. Thus the Coro Gulbenkian may appear as an a cappella ensemble, performing 16th to 18th century Portuguese polyphony, or join the Orquestra Gulbenkian or other orchestras to perform the Classical, Romantic and Contemporary choral-symphonic literature. It has also performed (and often premiered) many 20th century works by Portuguese and international composers.
Coro Gulbenkian has been frequently invited to collaborate with major international orchestras – such as the London Philharmonia, the Freiburg Barockorchester, the San Francisco Symphony, the Orchestra of the XVIII Century, the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, the Baden-Baden Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Czeck Philharmonic, the Strasbourg Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lyon and Orchestre de Paris, among others –, working with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Colin Davis, Emmanuel Krivine, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Frans Brüggen, Franz Welser-Möst, Gerd Albrecht, Istvan Fischer, Michael Gielen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, René Jacobs, Theodor Guschlbauer and Leonard Slatkin.
Besides its regular season in Lisbon and its national tours, Coro Gulbenkian has repeatedly toured Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Macao, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States of America (New York) and Uruguay. In the 1990’s, a close partnership between Coro Gulbenkian and the Orchestra of the XVIII Century and its conductor Frans Brüggen led to a series of international tours including numerous performances in Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and China (Hong Kong) and included CD live recordings such as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for Philips, within Frans Brüggen’s complete Beethoven cycle.
In addition to these international tours, with either the Orquestra Gulbenkian or other orchestras and ensembles, Coro Gulbenkian has collaborated with important music festivals around the world, including performances at the Eurotop Festival (Amsterdam), the Veneto Festival (Padua and Venice), the City of London Festival, the International Music Festival of Granada and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. In 2010, Coro Gulbenkian embarked on a tour of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, with the Freiburg Barockorchester conducted by René Jacobs, with semi-staged performances in Brussels (Palais des Beaux Arts), Lisbon (Gulbenkian Grand Auditorium) and Paris (Salle Pleyel), which were acclaimed by the public and the critics. In 2011, Coro Gulbenkian performed at the Royal Festival Hall, in London, with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, a performance which featured Bartók’s Cantata Profana, within an annual series dedicated to the music of Bartók. In 2012, Coro Gulbenkian was a guest artist at the Auditório Nacional de Música in Madrid, Spain, and performed three concerts of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Orchestre National de Lyon, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, in the Auditorium ONL in Lyons, France, the last of which was recorded and broadcasted live on the channel www.medici.tv. Recent international engagements include five performances of Richard Strauss’ Elektra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Patrice Chéreau, at the Festival de Aix-en-Provence, as well as concerts in Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, with the Real Orquesta Filarmónica de Galicia.
Coro Gulbenkian has recorded extensively for Philips, Archiv-Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, Cascavelle, Musifrance, as well as FNAC-Music, performing a wide-spanned repertoire from Early-Renaissance polyphony to Xenakis, either a cappella or with different orchestras. Several of these albums received international awards such as the «Berlioz Prize» of the French Académie Nationale du Disque Lyrique, the «Grand Prix International du Disque» of the Charles Cross Academy or the «Orphee d’Or», amongst others. It also recorded, for Portugaler label, works a cappella by XVI-XVII century composers Pero de Gamboa and Lourenço Ribeiro, as well as Vilancicos Negros of the XVII century, from the Monastery of Santa Cruz de Coimbra. Recent releases include a CD of Portuguese Christmas Songs, which obtained unanimous acclaim of both the public and the critics.