Conductor 1964 – 2002
Patron of the choir, alongside the currently serving Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
Dr Christopher Robinson CVO CBE was educated at Rugby and Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar. After a period as Organist and Master of the Choristers at Worcester Cathedral, where he was also conductor of several Three Choirs Festivals, Christopher Robinson moved to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where he was Organist and Choirmaster until 1991. He then held until 2002 the prestigious post of Organist and Director of Music at St John’s College, Cambridge, a choir with an international reputation for excellence. He made many highly-acclaimed recordings with the college choir.
He was conductor of the City of Birmingham Choir from 1964 to 2002, and of the Oxford Bach Choir from 1976 to 1997.
As well as conducting most of the large-choir repertoire with the City of Birmingham Choir, there were also concerts of special note. For example, Christopher Robinson’s expertise in and affinity for Elgar’s music produced several highly praised performances of The Dream of Gerontius. In 1981 he conducted Messiaen’s La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jesus Christ and in 1989 two highly acclaimed performances of Tippett’s Mask of Time. The Choir gave a widely praised first performance in England of the Jacobite Rising by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
We were delighted to work with Christopher again in 2016 for a CD recording of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, transcribed for organ and performed by David Briggs.
Alongside many accolades, he holds honorary degrees from the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University and is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. He has been Chairman of the Elgar Society and President of the Royal College of Organists and President of the Friends of Cathedral Music.
In 1992 the Queen bestowed on him the honour of Commander of the Victorian Order for his services at Windsor Castle, and in the summer of 2002, the Archbishop of Canterbury made him a Lambeth DMus. He became an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in Autumn 2003 and was honoured by Her Majesty again when he received a CBE in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List.
Since retirement from St John’s College in 2003, he has continued to be active as a conductor, composer, keyboard player and mentor to young musicians. In 2006 he was Acting Director of Music at Clare College and from 2015-17 was Mentor to the Organ Scholars at Downing College. He continues to fulfil regular commitments in Denmark.
On 16 April 2011, a group of former Choral Scholars and Choristers sang Evensong to celebrate his 75th birthday, conducted by Dr Robinson. Listen to the service here (link is external).
You can read more about Christopher Robinson’s tenure as Conductor in our history pages.