Mulled wine and merry song: a strong mix of mixed choirs

Alice Chilcott, William Hewstone, Rose Washbourn, Chase Smith 23 January 2015

Sidney Sussex

Sidney’s mixed-voice choir, led by Dr. David Skinner, specializes in early music, and is the only Oxbridge choir to sing a Latin Choral Vespers service. In December, we conducted a successful tour to Innsbruck and Maria Saal in Austria, performing in a sell-out concert on the final night. We also found time to record for an Austrian TV documentary, which will air in the new year.  

2015 promises to be an exciting year, with an April premier and recording of Johann Baptist Wanhal’s Requiem at St John’s Smith Square in London, and a new piece commissioned for us from our composer in residence, Eric Whitacre. We are looking forward to packed tours to Rome in the spring and, in the summer, the East Coast of the USA, including a performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall.  

Sidney is also jumping on the “embrace the digital age” bandwagon, with a new website in   the pipeline, so you can like us on Facebook, or participate in #choirbanter on Snapchat. Or you could always do that old-fashioned thing of actually coming to our services.

Homerton

Homerton College’s Charter Choir was founded just four years ago, when the College gained its Royal Charter. Now 20 singers strong, it is composed of undergraduates, PGCE students, and postgraduates.

In line with Homerton’s reputation as Cambridge’s youngest and friendliest college, the choir has matured rapidly under our Director, Dr Daniel Trocmé-Latter, journeying regularly to Cathedrals across England and performing with other Cambridge choirs. In December 2014, we released our first CD, Audite Finem, including a Peter Maxwell Davies setting of Carole Anne Duffy’s poem, Homerton.

After visiting Norwich and Southwark Cathedrals last year, this term the choir will sing in St. Edmundsbury Cathedral on 31 January, perform in Great St Mary’s in Cambridge for the 1 February University Sermon, and welcome Churchill Choir for a joint evensong and formal on 24 February. After an adventurous tour to Ireland last year, including stops at Christ Church and St Patrick’s Cathedrals, this summer we will spend 10 days on tour through Monaco, Nice, Cannes, and Grasse, finishing with a performance at Montecarlo Cathedral. We’re shifting from a pint of Guinness to a glass of the local red.

Corpus Christi

Having gone through five Directors of Music in as many years (our last even fled the country to escape us), it’s unsurprising that Corpus Choir has learnt to laugh in the face of adversity. We may be amongst the most light-hearted college choirs, but we do take our singing seriously.

The past year’s highlights have included services at Southwark and Liverpool Cathedrals, joint events with other Cambridge choirs and, most notably, our summer tour to Vienna. The tour was a civilised affair of concerts and services in the Stephansdom, Hofburg Palace, and Schonbrunn Palace, and private tours of the Cathedral’s museum – oh, and getting embarrassingly drunk in a small village monastery (which ended with one member returning to our hostel escorted by Viennese Police, but we don’t dwell on that).

With a new and committed director, who has reined us in to some degree, we have a great year of singing ahead. Members of the choir past and present have included an ex- President of the Footlights and half of Corpus’ University Challenge team so, if you want to join this star-studded line up, auditionees are always welcome!

Gonville & Caius

Caius Choir is one of the most beautiful choirs in Cambridge, but also one of the most sociable (we are known, for good reason, as the ‘unofficial’ drinking society of Caius…) Our precentor is the affable and stunningly adept Dr. Geoffrey Webber, who is equally at ease conducting an eight part Byrd Mass as with brewing his famous mulled wine. Conducting at Caius since 1989, Dr. Webber has built the choir’s reputation on both its professionalism and specialism in reconstructed pieces of music, most recently in the choir’s CD In Praise of Saint Columba: the Sound World of the Celtic Church.

Last year’s highlights included tours to Brazil and Hong Kong, a concert in the Royal Albert Hall in collaboration with four other Cambridge choirs and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and a concert in London’s St. Marylebone Church to promote the release of our Christmas CD – Dormi Jesu. There is much to be excited about in the coming year as well, with joint evensongs at Sidney Sussex and St. Johns, a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3, a concert in the St. Alban’s Festival, a summer CD recording, and a tour to Sardinia.

The choral scholars have recently founded two a capella groups, the Caius Men and the Gonville Girls, which perform at various venues throughout the year. Both feature fresh arrangements and new compositions by choir members. With aspiring opera singers and musicians of all kinds, these are certainly two groups to watch.