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National Portrait Gallery to have choir in residence

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image captionGregory Batsleer is chorus master with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

The National Portrait Gallery in London is to have a choir in residence - a first for any museum in the UK.

The Portrait Choir will perform a range of pieces in gallery spaces that relate to portrait themes and exhibitions.

Artistic director Gregory Batsleer said it was "an exciting new venture for choral music in the UK".

The three-year residency is due to begin with an inaugural performance on 28 June, part of the gallery's Late Shift programme.

"It has long been an ambition of the National Portrait Gallery to have a choir in residence," said the NPG's Pim Baxter.

The initiative, she continued, would enable the gallery to demonstrate "how portraiture and the human voice can complement each other".

Batsleer, currently chorus master with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, said he hoped the choir would become "an integral part of the National Portrait Gallery's work".

"The Choir in Residence programme aims to provide our visitors with new ways of appreciating portraiture and music," said the Manchester-born 24-year-old.

Featuring up to 22 members from some of Britain's most prestigious music conservatoires, The Portrait Choir will commission and perform one new work each year.

Gallery staff and visitors, mentored by experienced professional singers, will have the opportunity to take part in community singing and youth singing days.

There are also plans for up to two opera productions over the next three years, as well as engagements outside the gallery.

The choir will perform two daytime concerts on 29 June that will feature a newly commissioned work by composer Ben Parry.

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