2020 has been a year of change for everyone. Amid a global pandemic, economic changes, and political imbalances, I also left my London home to move to San Diego, arriving just in time for lockdown.
As much as this year has been a huge adjustment, one of the hardest parts was leaving behind my beloved chamber choir Lumen, which was founded in London in early 2016.
Lumen was, at the time, a completely new amateur chamber choir, which grew and evolved into 16 volunteer singers, focusing on choral polyphony - and I genuinely had no idea if it would be a success or not; I didn't even know if anyone would audition!
However, over the years, the achievements have been great.
We sang six concerts at our home of St John on Bethnal Green, in Central London, ranging from Christmas choral favorites to Tudor anthems, spiritual music for easter, and new choral works written especially for the choir.
We performed for the investiture of Bishops, sang evensong at St Georges Windsor Castle and St Edmundsbury Cathedral, and in 2018 recorded the world's first album devoted to brand new choral music, which has been featured on Classic FM, BBC Radio 3, KUSC (and available on Spotify) - and even got us an invite to sing mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
However, throughout this has been the enthusiasm of the members of Lumen, and their keenness to craft something beautiful with every new piece we sang, to learn and understand the origins of the music and the purpose of the writing, and transform all of that into beautiful concert repertoire
So, while Lumen lives on in London, it's now turn for me to start Stellarum in San Diego. I bring a bold vision of how choral music can be both an opportunity for people to come together, sing together and learn together, finding camaraderie in the shared purpose of creating music, but also to surprise and delight new audiences with ancient and modern choral music from around the world that they may not be familiar with.
This is the mission, and this is the time, and I'm excited for the journey and the opportunity to create something great in Stellarum.
- Benjamin Thiele-Long, Founder and Director