Christ's College Chapel Choir
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Christ's College Chapel Choir is a mixed-voice ensemble based at Christ's College, Cambridge, England. Its raison d'être is, as it has always been, to sing services in the College Chapel. Choral Evensong is sung on Thursday and Sunday Evenings during Full Term, and Choral Eucharist services take place on a less frequent basis. More generally, the Choir makes an important contribution to the life of the College, singing at feasts, weddings, memorial services and other occasions. Further to this, the group also pursues an exciting range of activities outside College, performing concerts in Cambridge and around the UK, recording CDs, and broadcasting.
Director of music
The choir is led by David Rowland, who was Organ Scholar at Corpus Christi College.[when?] During his third year he assisted the Organ Scholar at Kings by playing regularly at services. After graduating in 1978 he pursued research in Cambridge, while still playing the organ and in 1981 he won the prestigious St Alban's International Organ Competition. In the following year he was a major prizewinner at the Dublin International Organ Competition. Subsequently David became a lecturer in the music department of Glasgow University and then Director of Music at Christ's College Cambridge, where he has conducted the choir for the last twenty-two years. More recently, from 2002-4 he conducted the Welsh National Youth Choir. In addition to conducting he records, broadcasts and performs regularly in London's South Bank concert halls and in many other venues nationwide, on harpsichord, organ and early piano. David joined the staff of the Music Department of the Open University in 1989, where he is currently Professor of Music and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He pursues research into the performance practice of the early piano, and in particular into the career of Muzio Clementi, on which subjects he has written four books and other scholarly material.
The choir undertakes a major international tour each Summer. The group has visited the USA, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and many European countries over the last few years. Most recently the choir toured the United States of America for a second time, entertaining audiences from Burlington, Vermont to Washington D.C. by way of Boston Massachusetts, Newport, Rhode Island, Nantucket, Massachusetts, New York, New York and many other prominent towns en route over the course of three weeks. The choir usually undertakes a smaller localised tour of a region of Great Britain during the Easter vacation, in order to raise funds for a trip abroad.
The Choir has been reviewed by critics internationally. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised their "accomplished and satisfying" performance, enjoying their "particularly robust sonority", in a "living artistic experience". The Toronto Star described its musicianship as "dazzling". The Hong Kong Times wrote of the "rich sounds and emotions" offered by a choir which "exploits its potential to the fullest", and Canberra's Muse magazine praised the Choir's "very polished performance" and its "rich and even mixture of parts".
- Quam Dilecta: French Romantic Choral Music (2012) Sacred music by Fauré, Saint-Saëns and others.
- Requiem - A thanksgiving for life, Choral works by Sir Philip Ledger (2010) A collection of anthems and carols by the British composer Philip Ledger alongside his Requiem - A thanksgiving for life
- Scarlatti (2009) Sacred music by father and son Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti
- Of a Rose (2007) Carol settings by Britten and Leighton
- Stanford Magnificat for Double Chorus, Parry Songs of Farewell (2004)
- Howells Requiem, Britten Rejoice in the Lamb (2002)
- Music of the Tudors (2001) Including Tallis' Lamentations of Jeremaiah
- Sacred music by Gibbons and Purcell (2000)
- Romantic church music from Europe (1999) including music of Brahms and Fauré
- Kodály Missa Brevis, Motets by Liszt and Bruckner (1998)
- Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts (1997) Funeral Music and Laments from 16th and 17th century England.
The choir is an institution with several interesting traditions. Although the choir has existed for more than 500 years many of these have emerged in the last 25 years. There are two exceptions to this, the first being the use of red cassocks. This is an honour only open to choirs of royal foundation. The second is the Bass Curry, first recorded by John Milton (an alumnus of the college) who described 'Basse Currie' as when 'the singing-men of the quire do joine to delight in curried mutton and also in mulberrie chutnie; a joyful repast'. This text is very highly disputed. It has been suggested, although there is no evidence for this, that Milton's mysterious rustication from Cambridge may have been due to irreligious acts (hardly in keeping with his training for religious ministry) carried out at said 'Basse Currie'.
- "The Choir of Christ's College, Cambridge". Professor David Rowland, Director of Music.
- Biography of David Rowland at the Open University
- Concerts and Tours, Christ's College Choir official website
- Tour of the East Coast of the USA, Summer 2009, Christ's College, Cambridge, UK.
- Review, Philadelphia Inquirer