We're pleased to announce the details of this year's Chorister Open Day which will take place on the afternoon of Saturday 18 June, 4-6pm. If your son is aged somewhere between two and six, loves singing, and you're interested in the possibility of his being one of the Choristers of the Choir of New College Oxford, then this is the day for you - please do come along! More information about the day, and the registration form, can be found here.
A photographer from the Daily Telegraph visited us on Saturday. The images were published as part of this article:
The purpose of New College Choir is, fundamentally, to pray for the soul of the Founder, William of Wykeham. But we also exist to serve the college as it is currently constituted - that is, the current body of students, staff and fellows - and the wider community, whom we welcome as guests. For many in our congregation, firm religious conviction seems impossible, but the music and language of Evensong provide both a valuable respite from the quotidian, and perhaps a means of access to something otherwise intangible...
Photo by Nick Rutter
As our final two webcasts of term, we've put up a live recording of both our Advent and Christmas carol services, for all those who couldn't make it, or who need a fix of New College Choir over the vacation - after all, you can never have too many carol services on Christmas Eve...
The orders of service for both webcasts are available below, so as to help you enjoy, and participate in, the service.
(Also, on a technical note, we've upgraded our streaming system - the player now uses HTML5, meaning that a consistent webcast experience will now be delivered regardless of OS or browser.)
Christmas Carol Service - the service booklet is also available in pdf format.
Advent Carol Service - if the document reader below isn't working, the service booklet is available in pdf format.
New College Choir Carol Services 2015
Sunday 29 November at 5.30pm
Sunday 6 December at 3.00pm
Due to enormous demand, we regret that there are currently no more tickets available for the Christmas Carol Service on 6 December.
However, a very few antechapel (restricted view) tickets are still available for this Sunday’s Advent Carol service – please email email@example.com for details.
There are generally returns on the day, so all those still interested in attending either service may want to queue at the antechapel entrance for any spare seats. Both services will also be available afterwards as webcasts.
Tickets are still available for the concert on Tuesday 8 December - the Choir of New College Oxford will be singing at Dorchester Abbey, in a Festival of Readings and Music for Christmas, in aid of the Home Farm Trust. More information on this event, and a link to buy tickets (via Eventbrite), is on our Upcoming Events page.
Today history was made by the girl choristers of Frideswide Voices. Making their debut in Oxford's oldest choral foundation, they were joined by the New College clerks and conducted by Robert Quinney.
Frideswide Voices was founded last year, and is flourishing under the direction of Will Dawes. We are not the first foundation to host them - in fact, we were beaten to it by both Magdalen and Christ Church, and the girls have also sung at Queen's, Oriel, Trinity, and many times at Worcester - but we hope it won't be long before they return. We certainly have many reasons to welcome them; not least, the fact that several of the Frideswide girls are sisters of current or former New College choristers. It was good to see many relations, friends and supporters in the congregation this evening.
Below, Frideswide Voices in rehearsal, singing music by Purcell. The photograph was taken (without flash so as not to distract the choristers!) by Nancy-Jane Rucker.
...[a] more than agreeable border-crossing, centuries-spanning recital...
Choir & Organ
Those of us who make music on a regular basis, as our job, know that the small irritations and difficulties of life often intervene, making it difficult for us fully to give ourselves to – and, in the case of a conductor, fully to involve others in – the task. But there are also times when everything comes into perfect balance, and the music flows unimpeded, lifting us above and beyond ourselves. At those times I think of David Trendell.
David died one year ago, at the age of fifty. Much has been written about him, and the world hardly needs another testament to his warmth, wit, conviviality, erudition, or any of the many other attributes that spring to mind. Nevertheless, I’ve hijacked the New College Choir blog to add my voice to the many, after a year of saying nothing in public about David, but thinking about him perhaps every day. (David was never a member of New College Choir, though he did sometimes sing in it while a postgraduate at Oxford, and even occasionally directed the choir in Edward Higginbottom’s absence – an experience he much enjoyed.)
Music flowed unimpeded from David. Nothing seemed ever to stop it, and nothing was ever a barrier to his sensuous expressivity. Not for him the mean proprieties of ‘style’; he treated music of any genre or era with the same relentless focus – mostly articulated through gesture, not words – on line and expression. Byrd and Brahms, Rogier and Howells never sounded identical – how could they? – but all benefitted from the same attention to the text, and to the direction and inner life of each phrase. David’s work proposed a telling critique of the cult of ‘specialism’. Good music, of any kind, was all the same to him.
The first choir I saw David direct was a group of boy choristers at the Edington Festival. From a disparate bunch of sixteen trebles, drawn from eight different choirs, he immediately – I mean immediately – drew unanimous, cohesive, shapely singing. It was difficult to see how he was achieving this: not by telling them what to do; not by correcting them; not by making ‘points’ about the music. Nothing in my prior experience could explain this magic, but gradually the realisation dawned: David was (simply - but there's nothing simple about it) taking their combined experience, encouraging them to connect individually with the music, and thus enabling their transformation into an ensemble greater than the sum of its parts. I do my best to achieve this every day, and sometimes I think I might be almost as good as David, who did it for a few years running, during his summer holiday. And that, of course, was a tiny part of a life filled to the brim with musical experience and achievement. One need only listen to one of his recordings with the Choir of King’s College, London to witness a group of young musicians brought to heights of virtuosity and interpretative maturity, remarkable by any standard.
Perhaps what I’ve written might be taken to suggest that David was some kind of dumb savant, from whom music flowed because it was his only means of expression. No; he was a superbly articulate man. How could he have been otherwise, blessed with keen intelligence, a vast resource of knowledge, and little if any inhibition?
What else? David wore good clothes, badly. He was splendidly unkempt, and I can’t help but take the irrepressibility of his physique, incapable of being controlled even by Jermyn Street collars and Harris tweed cuffs, as a metaphor for the insatiable appetite for life he demonstrated in so many ways. To those who think Church music can only be devotional if it is demure, and to other Roundheads, he was a gloriously Cavalier provocation. A one-off, his influence nevertheless continues to extend through any musician who came into contact with him.
One year on, it may be time to say goodbye to David Trendell, much as one would like to believe that the next meeting – a drink, supper perhaps, do you know La poule au pot? – were just a few weeks away. The good news is that it will never be possible to forget him.
By mid-May, preparations for our trip to Rome were apace - the librarian's table groaning under the weight of music booklets bearing the papal arms, the song room resounding with Palestrina (amongst others), and, at the end of May, we had the treat of a visit by the Cappella Sistina, for a joint rehearsal for this exciting event - as well as being treated in turn to a Eucharist sung largely by the Clerks, including the magnificent Duruflé Messe 'Cum jubilo', and then joining with them in singing Parry's 'My soul, there is a country'. Radio Vaticana had an article about the event here.
Click here to see our dynamic, full-screen report on the visit, with photos.
This is a Beta concept - one we're considering integrating into our new website - we'd welcome feedback, positive or negative: please send any thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Choir of New College Oxford is delighted to announce that we have been invited by the Holy See, and the Cappella Musicale Pontificia Sistina, to the Vatican City at the end of June.
On the evening of Saturday 27 June, we will give a joint concert with the Cappella Sistina in the Sistine Chapel.
Then, on the morning of Monday 29 June, we will sing, with the Cappella Sistina, at the Papal Pallium Mass for the Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul, celebrated by His Holiness Pope Francis, in St. Peter's Basilica.
For information on timings and tickets, please see the relevant section of our Upcoming Events page.
The Choir of New College Oxford last visited Rome, by invitation of the Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra, in December 2010: you can read Edward Higginbottom's news post concerning that tour here.