We’re recruiting for new members to join us in October. Please sign up for an audition here by filling in this form.
We have also set up a new YouTube channel. Please subscribe if you want to see the choir's latest recordings as well as live streams from Somerville Chapel.
As well as the following special events, there is the regular service of Choral Contemplation on Sundays during term at 5.30 to which you are all most welcome:
Friday 7th February, 6pm-6.45pm, College Chapel
Choral Scholars' Recital
This annual event is a lovely opportunity to hear the Choral Scholars (including the Chloe and Helen Morton Scholars) of the College Choir perform as soloists, accompanied by our Organ Scholars and Margaret Irene Seymour Award holders. The performance will include works by Bach, Händel, Schubert, Butterworth, and Elgar.
Friday 21th February, 6pm-7pm, College Chapel
Dante and the Music of Purgatory
During this interdisciplinary event, Katie Bastiman (4th year linguist and Choral Scholar) will guide us through the music of Dante’s Purgatory, looking at the psalms and hymns that Dante cites and why they are significant within the context of the poem. The College Choir will sing settings of these texts to music including MacMillan's Miserere, Howells' Collegium Regale Te Deum, and Tallis' Te Lucis ante terminum. Join us to learn about this celebrated Italian poet, and the importance of music for the structure, tone, and significance of his work.
Sunday 8th March, 5.30pm-6.30pm, College Chapel
Music and Readings for Lent and the Spring
In this special event, the choirs of Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville College combine to celebrate International Women’s Day, in the 100th year of Women being allowed to graduate from Oxford. The event will feature music by Amy Beach, Sarah Quartel, Rafaella Aleotti, Sarah MacDonald, Judith Weir and Greta Tomlins.
Wednesday 11th March, 7.30pm-10pm, College Chapel
Bach: St John Passion
The biannual performance of Bach’s masterpiece is always a highlight of the college’s musical life. Featuring the Oxford-based professional period-instrument orchestra The Instruments of Time and Truth, a professional Evangelist, and soloists from the choir, this great work is a must see event. It tends to be very well-attended, so do please reserve your tickets as soon as you can.
Matthew Thomson: Evangelist
Benjamin Thompson: Christus
Arthur Landman: Pilate
Oliver John Ruthven: Continuo
The Instruments of Time and Truth
The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford
Will Dawes: Conductor
Tickets £10 (£5 for students) via firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 18th June, 7.30pm, College Chapel
Saturday 1st May 2021, from 3.30pm, College Chapel
In addition to the above events, you might like to know about the following larger plans.
One of our ambitions is to increase the number of pieces in our repertoire by female and non-binary composers, so I’m delighted that the College has part-sponsored a major new venture from Mutitude of Voyces, who are publishing compilations of music composed by female composers. We are performing numerous pieces from Volume 1 of this series (SATB anthems) this term and are also in discussions to be the primary sponsor of a volume of Secular music for SATB choirs
After our ground-breaking tour to India in December 2018, we’re heading abroad again this year, this time to Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau between the 11th and 21st July. As in India, the trip will comprise major concerts, alumni receptions, and outreach.
Would you like to sing with us from October? We are looking for altos, tenors and basses (sorry, sopranos!) to join our choir! Things to look forward to in the upcoming year include a tour to Singapore and Hong Kong, a performance of the Bach St John Passion, Christmas carols in the Cotswolds and much more.
Regular commitments on Thursdays and Sundays.
For more information, please click here.
The academic year 2018/2019 has culminated with a packed last few days for our choir. On Thursday we had the final concert of term, and on Friday it was leavers' dinner, at which we sang and said our goodbyes to some of our longest-standing choir members.
Then, on the Saturday, we had our very first choir reunion. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces back again and we are already looking forward to the next reunion in 2 years’ time.
As we are now facing a big gap until the beginning of the new academic year, Somerville Choir will be embarking on a mini-tour of the Channel Islands this month, from the 9th to 14th August!
Starting with a small concert at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Centre on 10 August, we'll be going on to perform at the Chateau on 11 August – both these events will take place in Jersey. Then, on August 12th we'll catch the ferry to Guernsey, where we will perform in the Town Church that evening.
Two videos have been added to the choir's YouTube channel:
John Taverner: Mater Christi sanctissima
Shenandoah (arr. James Erb)
Herbert Howells: Before me, careless lying
It is the beginning of a new term and, exam season notwithstanding, the Choir of Somerville College has some exciting events planned. Our upcoming concerts for the next two months are as follows:
Performance as part of the Little Clarendon Street Festival, 7.30 pm
Organ Scholar Recital, 6pm, Somerville College Chapel
Commemoration Service, 2.15 pm, Somerville College Chapel
Concert (Love and Loss: Madrigals old and new), 8 pm, Somerville College Chapel
Additionally, we are excited to announce that our first Choir Reunion will be taking place this term on Saturday, June 22nd. This event is aimed at any former members of Somerville College Choir since 2001 and will include a concert at 5.30 pm in the College Chapel.
Also, anyone attending the choral and organ scholarship open day on Saturday 11/05/2019, do make sure to reach out to our Director of Chapel Music, Will Dawes, who will be running the warm-up session. He will be happy to answer any questions you might have about joining Somerville College Choir.
We are delighted to let you know that there will be a reunion for all former members of the Choir of Somerville College since 2001 taking place in the College on Saturday 22nd June from 2pm onwards. The event will be based around an informal concert in the College Chapel at 5.30pm that afternoon, with arrival at the college between 2pm and 2.30pm, followed by a rehearsal and pre-concert refreshments. Half of the concert will be given by the current choir, with choir alumni invited to join for the remainder of the concert.
Guests are more than welcome to attend, but if you'll be bringing guests please email email@example.com before the 10th June to confirm names and numbers so that we can have enough refreshments available. There will be no charge for those attending the day, aside from what is spent at the Royal Oak after the concert, where food and drinks will be available for purchase.
We'll also publish a document on this website, detailing names of those we're in touch with, confirmed attendees, and names of people for whom we have no contact details. Do please let us know if you can help tracking people down, as we’re very keen to re-establish contact with alumni.
Please click here to RSVP. Even if you’re not able to join us on this occasion, it would be great to hear from you so that we can update our records and so that the 2021 event (the 20th anniversary of the choir’s formation) can be at least as successful!
Choral scholarships are an ideal way of combining academic studies with high-caliber choir singing. Each year, Somerville offers around five Choral Scholarships to applicants wishing to read any subject. We are looking for enthusiastic singers with voices in the soprano, alto, contraltos, tenor and bass range to join our choir. During term time, rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings and regular performances take place each Sunday. In addition, there will be further performances, both in the college and abroad. Choral Scholars are expected to be leaders of the choir, both musically and socially, and in return receive generous funding for singing lessons, frequent solo opportunities, and regular free meals.
Organ Scholars at Somerville are provided with generous funding for organ and conducting lessons, and are guaranteed rooms in college for the duration of their course. The primary function of the Organ Scholar is to play the organ and accompany the choir in rehearsals and performances, however, depending on each Organ Scholar's personal priorities, there are opportunities to sing with the choir, direct the choir and experience orchestral conducting.
For more information on applying for a Choral or Organ Scholarship, please visit the following part of the University admissions website. If you are interested in applying for a Choral or Organ Scholarship at Somerville, please contact the College’s Director of Chapel Music, Will Dawes, who is very happy to meet with interested parties at any convenient time.
Director of Chapel Music Will Dawes writes about the Choir’s tour to India last December:
On Monday 10th December, 30 singers and two organ scholars set off from Heathrow to begin a trip that would take in Mumbai and Goa, and see us giving concerts, working with hugely talented yet underprivileged local children, and absorbing Indian culture.
The atmosphere on our journey from Mumbai airport to our hotel was distinctly quiet, with the group taking in the sights and sounds of this densely populated mega-city. From the bikes weaving skillfully between cars and trucks, to the elegant Haji Ali Mosque surrounded by water, a vast outdoor laundry and the bright posters everywhere in Roman and Devanagari script, there were reminders everywhere that this was a city that mingled millions of people, of different faiths and cultures, living in close proximity.
For one day, we were tourists, visiting the sixth-century Elephanta caves. Our guide was truly brilliant at showing us round the caves, which mostly consist of monuments and iconography dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. We also encountered some extremely cheeky monkeys – one of which pinched a bottle of soda from the group!
From a musical point of view, we gave three concerts in three very different venues: The first was in the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai: in a 1,000-seat performance space featuring a pipe organ – one of only a handful in India.
We had some challenging and contemporary pieces to start with, but eventually branched out into real Christmas favourites such as The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ding dong! merrily on high and Away in a Manger. These all went down a treat, with plenty of whoops and cheers!
The second concert was at the Mehboob studios, in a barn of a Bollywood film studio which could well have been an aircraft hangar. After a concert of music on the theme of water (including works by Palestrina, Holst and arrangements by several former Kings Singers), we were able to enjoy the sounds of traditional Indian instruments such as the tabla and santoor, the latter an Asian dulcimer, playing alongside a Western jazz trio in the open air.
After travelling to Goa, the third concert was performed in the 17th century Church of St Francis of Assisi. There was no electricity, it was swelteringly hot, and we had several animal friends join us both physically and vocally during the concert, including pigeons, bats, dogs, and a rat that ran straight through the choir whilst we were singing. Coupled with the colour of the lights, and the glorious stonework the sound of the music was sublime.
The undoubted highlights of the trip were our workshops with the charities Songbound and the Karta Initiative. The latter was a cross-college effort with choir, tutors, and principal all combining to give 30 bright and personable 16-17 year olds a morning interacting with members of the University. The sessions that we had with the children from Songbound – which uses music to make a difference to the lives of some of India’s poorest children – will live long in the memory. We spent an hour in each session teaching them songs, learning from them, sensing their great joy at making music when the rest of their days were known to be troubling.
It was a pleasure for us to be part of such an extraordinary trip and to be able to act as ambassadors for both the College and wider University. As a college choir, we have arrived back with those memories and experiences firmly in our thoughts. The trip reminded us that Somerville is part of a global community, with alumni and well-wishers all around the world. Through the shared enjoyment of music, I hope that we strengthened the ties between Somerville and our friends in India. I’m thrilled that we’re already considering the next tour. More on that soon…
First-year experimental psychology student, Miriam Remshard:
When I joined the choir, I did not know of the plans to do a tour of India. So, when I received my first email in September informing me that I would be travelling to India in less than four months, I was excited to say the least. Seeing a country which is so different to the UK was an incredibly eye-opening experience. From the hot and humid climate, the animals (such as cows and goats) standing in the middle of the road, the hectic traffic, to the friendly, smiling and welcoming people, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. There are many memories I will cherish from this tour. For me as a first-year student and new to the choir, it was a really special event and a fantastic opportunity to get to know the other members of the choir a lot better. Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to our next tour!
We are thrilled to announce that this morning (24th November) we have reached our crowdfunding target of £10,000! A huge thank you to everyone who has supported this initiative so far. We are immensely grateful for this generosity and for your making this tour possible for all the choir.
Our campaign remains live until Friday 30th November, so it’s not too late to support us if you haven’t already, please do so here: https://somerville.hubbub.net/p/indiachoirtour2018.
We look forward to updating you on our activities during the tour, and thank you once again!
The Somerville College Choir
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The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford