There cannot be many people who pass along the River Thames who haven’t seen the stone‐carved inscription ‘Carolus Rex’ on the famous King Charles II Court, now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (Formerly, Trinity College of Music.).

The director of the ensemble Carolus Rex, Sophia Vaughan, had always enjoyed choral work, in particular church music and rarely‐sung modern music and wanted to find like‐minded singers who would be happy to experiment and perform to a very high standard. She was soon joined by other vocalists with a wide range of musical experience.

After its foundation in 2003, this innovative ensemble performed at numerous venues to great acclaim. Audiences at St George’s, Southwark, Worth Abbey, Kensington Palace and the Turkish Embassy delighted in their rich offering of music.

The group’s initial inspiration was The Sixteen and King’s College Cambridge, but the aim was to be different. Their developing repertoire was exciting, challenging and eclectic. They performed the works of notable composers such as Duruflé, Vaughan Williams, Carl Rütti and Eric Whitacre. Sea Shanties were a specialty for HRH Princess Anne’s dinner in the Painted Hall, Square and traditional church music. Carolus Rex performed at St Martin in‐the‐Fields to a capacity audience.

The group's album 'As Torrents in Summer' was released in 2008.
Superb. One word which, as I see it, accurately describes the concert given by Carolus Rex on March 13, 2008, at St. John's Church, Greenhill. Having had the pleasure of first hearing this excellent group perform in Harrow at Christmas 2007, I was very much looking forward to hearing them again on their return to this venue for their Easter concert. The group's four performers were Felicity Hayward (soprano), Sophia Vaughan (alto), Robert Smith (tenor), and Edwin Pitt Mansfield (bass). Carolus Rex started the first half of the concert with a goosepimple-inducing performance of "Weep, O mine eyes" by John Bennet (c. 1575-1614), and continued with works by Tchaikovsky, Rubbra, Gasparini and Mozart. Their singing was impeccable, most of it done a cappella (without accompaniment). Their tuning was incredibly accurate, and the quality of each of their voices, both on their own and in harmony with each other, left us all mesmerised as we listened to them. Sophia Vaughan displayed a wonderfully sensitive voice in her Rubbra solo, while Edwin Pitt Mansfield's fine Mozart Kantate solo was accompanied at the piano by the group's excellent tenor, Robert Smith, who displayed great versatility in so doing. The second half brought us works by Parry (a setting of the "Crossing the Bar" poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson), as well as works by Mozart, Duruflé, J.S. Bach, and Pitoni. Mozart's Exultate Jubilate, written when he was just seventeen, is well-known for its tricky coloratura writing. Not a problem for Felicity Hayward, the soloist in the work, who negotiated the difficult technical passages with calm expertise and wonderful musicality. The final solo of the recital belonged to Robert Smith, who, in addition to some superb singing, and his piano accompaniment performance mentioned earlier, now sat down at the organ to play the Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 by J.S. Bach. His was a performance marked by great clarity in the notes and marvellous musicality, expertly handling the different sounds and nuances the organ at his disposition had to offer. I was left particularly impressed by this performer's incredible versatility ... in one concert, he performed as a tenor, a pianist and an organist - well done indeed. Carolus Rex have been a revelation in both their recent performances here in Harrow ... I wish them every success, particularly so with their just-recorded new album of choral music, which will be available to buy from the month of May onwards.
Vlad Bourceanu