Aurora Nova were founded by Patrick Craig in 1996 to perform a concert of sacred music for women's voices in London, raising money for charities supporting victims of domestic violence and breast cancer.
Made up of some of the finest choral singers in London, their voices make up the top lines of many of this country's finest groups including the Tallis Scholars, the Sixteen, the Gabrieli Consort, the Kings Consort and the BBC Singers.
The following year Aurora Nova was invited to become the first all-female professional choir to lead the Sunday services at St Paul's Cathedral. This debut caused considerable interest in the national press and led to appearances in the Independent newspaper and the news programme London Tonight.
Since then 18 women have sung over 60 Sundays at the Cathedral, encompassing a vast array of sacred repertoire. The group has always championed new music and has commissioned a dozen new works, including pieces by Dobrinka Tabakova, Elizabeth Winters, Philip Cooke, Katherine Dienes, Bill Ives and Joanna Marsh. In 1998 the group toured North America to great acclaim.
Since 2009 Aurora Nova has performed regular Orchestral Masses in July with the City of London Sinfonia, including a spectacular new arrangement of Gounod's Messe solennelle de St Cecile for the opening weekend of the Olympic Games in 2012.
In 2013 the group celebrated the anniversaries of Francis Poulenc and Benjamin Britten with a Holy Week Meditation in St Paul's featuring music from Dialogues des Carmelites, and a Britten 100th birthday concert in St James's Church, Piccadilly including Ceremony of Carols and a stunning arrangement of Rejoice in the Lamb.
2014 began with a celebration of the life and works of John Tavener in what would have been his 70th birthday month, and went on to feature new commissions from Eugenio Fagiani and Paul Crabtree.
2015 saw Aurora Nova celebrating the 60th, 70th and 80th birthdays of Bob Chilcott, John Rutter and Arvo Pärt in three appearances at St Paul's during the summer holidays. They also gave the first performance of Elizabeth Winter's Aurora Nova Service and the London premiere of Cecilia McDowall's Missa Mariae.
2016 began with tributes to Bernard Rose, Roger-Ducasse, and Naji Hakim and continued in the summer with performances of a new Jazz Mass by Bob Chilcott, and another performance of Gounod's St Cecilia Mass featuring Elizabeth Meister.
Aurora Nova celebrated twenty years of singing at St Paul's in 2017. Celebrations began with a joint Evensong with Oxford's liturgical girls' choir Frideswide Voices on April 23rd. This was thought to be the first ever service sung by a joint choir of children and professional adults in the classic Cathedral Choir formation which was entirely female. Aurora Nova also celebrated their work with the City of London Sinfonia in a performance of Haydn's Little Organ Mass in July featuring the internationally renowned soprano, and founder member of Aurora Nova, Carolyn Sampson.
2018, the Year of the Woman, kicked off with a concert celebrating female composers on International Women's Day on 8th March featuring our newest commission by Joanna Forbes L'Estrange. To promote this concert the group sang on Jamoké Fashola's InSpirit show on BBC Radio London on Sunday 4th March. Aurora Nova made history again at St Paul's Cathedral on 8th April 2018 in presenting the Cathedral's first ever complete Sunday of all female composed repertoire. In August the group gave the World premiere performance of a new setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis by Bill Ives in his seventieth birthday year - The Aurora Service.
In 2019 Aurora Nova performed new music by Gareth Wilson and Angus McPhee. In July we were delighted to present our first performances of important works by Lili Boulanger and Joseph Rheinberger which featured harpist and friend of the group, Gabriella Dall'Olio. 2020 began with an important joint Evensong with Frideswide Voices, the girls' choir at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford. Together we sang Britten's In the bleak midwinter and a brand new setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis by Kim Porter.
After the longest break to date due to Covid restrictions, Aurora Nova returned to St Paul's on 29th August 2021 to celebrate the 50th Birthdays of Joanna Forbes L'Estrange and Rupert Jeffcoat, the 70th Birthday of Cecila McDowall and the 500th Anniversary of the death of Josquin. They spent two days in Salisbury in July recording works by female composers for use on the Multitude of Voyces website. At the end of September they sang chant as part of Martin Randall's Divine Office experience in Oxford. As part of this week long celebration of choral music, Aurora Nova also gave a concert featuring the sacred music of Francis Poulenc and his French contemporaries.