Exeter College Choir consists of approximately twenty singers drawn from the College and University. The Choir’s main purpose is to sing the three weekly choral services in Exeter Chapel. These allow singers to explore the width and depth and breadth of the choral repertoire, performed to the highest standard in a spectacular building, with thoughtful and invigorating liturgy. The Choir also records CDs, makes annual tours, gives concerts, and engages in community based activities, such as workshops for local school children.
In 1995 the Choir was refounded, replacing boy trebles and male countertenors with female sopranos and altos, and since then has excelled in the standard, quality, and scope of its performances.
Exeter College offers one Organ Scholarship every other year and twelve choral scholarships, known as academical clerkships to students who study at Exeter. The rest of the Choir is made up of choral bursars, who are drawn from across the University. To find out more, read about organ and choral awards here.
The Choir of Exeter College remains the only choir in either Oxford or Cambridge to sing three Evensongs a week under the sole direction of an Organ Scholar and is widely regarded as one of the finest student ensembles in the country. The Choir has recently toured Germany, Italy, Barcelona, and Paris. In 2014 they visited the East Coast of the USA, singing in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and New York, Malta and Sicily, and in Summer 2017 Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. The Choir also regularly leads Evensong services at home in the UK, having visited Westminster Abbey and Exeter, Truro, and St Paul’s Cathedrals. To mark the 700th anniversary of Exeter College’s foundation in 1314, the Choir was heard on BBC Radio 4 for a week of daily services and produced a landmark world-premiere CD recording of Stanford’s Mass in G on EM Records. This disc was widely acclaimed, with Gramophone describing the Choir’s singing as “fully professional…with real delicacy, detail and momentum”. Due to popular demand, a second edition of this disc was released in June 2016 that includes the complete set of Parry’s Songs of Farewell, along with a new commission by Paul Edwards. The Choir has recently released a very successful CD, On Christmas Night, which is available for purchase, download, and on Spotify.
The choir has fostered a close association with the Oxford University Philharmonia, Oxford’s professional symphony orchestra, with whom they were invited to appear in an operatic gala concert given by world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming at the Sheldonian Theatre. The two ensembles also collaborated in April 2014 in a programme entitled ‘Sir Hubert and his Contemporaries’, which celebrated the college’s illustrious alumnus, Sir Hubert Parry. Other concert endeavours have seen the choir involved with The Brandenburg Festival, The Oxford Lieder Festival, and The Orgelbüchlein Project, performing repertoire including the Duruflé, Fauré, Rutter, Howells’s and Mozart’s Requiems. Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir, Tippett’s Five Negro Spirituals, and specially commissioned works from leading contemporary composers such as Cecilia MacDowell and Jonathan Dove. The choir has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, and ClassicFM.
To listen to the choir’s latest CD, On Christmas Night, on Spotify click here.
Organ Recitals take place every Tuesday during term time at 1.10 pm. With free admission, and a regular audience, these feature an exciting array of players comprising visiting cathedral organists, London and international recitalists, other Oxford Organ Scholars and Directors of Music.
The organ scholar provides music for three services a week in the chapel as well as rehearsing and conducting the choir. In addition, Exeter College has a programme of lunchtime organ recitals, which are organised by the organ scholar.
The current organ scholar is Bartosz Thiede.
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