0 Schools sing out to celebrate 10th Anniversary Outreach Concert in Christ Church Cathedral

10th Anniversary Outreach Concert in Christ Church Cathedral

10th Anniversary Outreach Concert in Christ Church Cathedral10th Anniversary Outreach Concert in Christ Church Cathedral

Six primary schools from across Oxfordshire joined pupils from Christ Church Cathedral School and the Cathedral Choristers for the 10th Anniversary Outreach Concert in the Cathedral.

A record number of people attended this year’s concert on Monday, which celebrated the fact that more than 50 local schools have been involved in the project over the past decade.

The children performed two pieces of music written by composer John Madden for the occasion.

Christ Church Director of Music Dr Stephen Darlington said: “When we first started this project ten years ago, we could not have imagined the huge number of children who have since been involved.”

The Outreach project is a joint venture between Oxfordshire County Music Service and Christ Church Cathedral School. It is funded by Christ Church Cathedral School and aims to encourage more singing and instrument playing in primary schools and provides training for music teachers.

The schools involved this year were Appleton, North Hinksey, New Hinksey, West Oxford, St Francis, Botley, and Christ Church.

Pete Hughes, Oxford Times, 28 June 2017

Please click here to view this article on the Oxford Times website.

 

0 Former Christ Church chorister receives literary award and glowing reviews for “The Matter of the Heart”

The Matter Of The Heart by Thomas Morris

We were thrilled to learn that one of our former choristers, Thomas Morris, had won an RSL Jerwood Award and has received critical acclaim for his book The Matter of the Heart. After completing his time as a Christ Church chorister, Thomas went on to Winchester, then returned to Christ Church to study for a degree in Music. He had a long career as a BBC radio producer, spending his last five years at the BBC as producer of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time, before leaving to write full-time.

His book tells the story of cardiac surgery in eleven landmark operations, and demonstrates how a pioneering generation of doctors in the early twentieth century overcame a longstanding belief that the heart was out of bounds to the scalpel. Please click here for further details.

Thrilling… The “dizzying” story of heart surgery is every bit as important as that of the nuclear, computer or rocket ages. And now it has been given the history it deserves…

Sunday Times

Thomas Morris does for the history of cardiac surgery what The Right Stuff and Hidden Figures did for the space race… The book is – appropriately – pulse-thumpingly gripping and will be enjoyed by anyone who, in any sense of the phrase, has a heart.

Mark Lawson

Tremendous. An exhilarating sweep through ancient history and contemporary practice in surgery of the heart. It’s rich in extraordinary detail and stories that will amaze you. A wonderful book.

Melvyn Bragg

Crammed full of compelling characters and dramatic scenes, this book gets to the heart of a fascinating matter and demonstrates why it matters so much.

Thomas Wright, author of Circulation

0 Three Choirs Evensong – rehearsal in Christ Church Cathedral

Rehearsal for Three Choirs Evensong

Some photos of the rehearsal for the Three Choirs Evensong which took place on Saturday 6 May 2017 in Christ Church Cathedral. We were delighted to welcome the choirs of Magdalen College and New College to join us in singing the service. The combined forces of the choirs numbered nearly 100 men and boys, and they were directed by Mark Williams, Robert Quinney, and Stephen Darlington. Josef Laming and Alexander Pott played organ music before the service, and Clive Driskill-Smith played during the service and afterwards. We were also delighted to see among the congregation many members of the Federation of Cathedral Old Choristers’ Associations, who were visiting Oxford and Christ Church for their Annual General Meeting.

0 Christ Church Cathedral School graded as ‘Excellent’ in recent inspection

Choristers in Tom Quad

Christ Church Cathedral School has emerged with flying colours from a recent inspection. The School received a glowing report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) in which they were awarded the highest grade – Excellent – for both Academic Achievement and Personal Development.

The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Reverend Professor Martyn Percy, Chair of Governors, has welcomed this outstanding report: “The School has rightly been praised for its excellence”, he said. “All the staff and pupils, under the leadership of the Headmaster, Richard Murray, will be very pleased that all the achievements of the School and its ethos have been singled out for particular mention. We warmly welcome the report, and all that it affirms.”

Please click here to read an article about this in the Oxford Times.

0 The Sun Most Radiant features on BBC Radio 3 Record Review

The Sun Most Radiant - cover artwork of CD by Christ Church Cathedral Choir

The performance draws you into its heart…

Andrew McGregor, BBC Record Review, 18 February 2017

We are delighted that for the second time in four months, Christ Church Cathedral Choir has been featured on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review, on this occasion for the fourth volume of music from the Eton Choirbook, The Sun Most Radiant. To hear the feature on BBC iPlayer, please click here, and you will find the feature at c.1:36:20.

The other recording recently featured on Record Review was Francesco Durante’s Requiem in C minor. Please click here for further details.

 

0 Review of Durante Requiem in Gramophone

durante-requiem-cd-cover

We are delighted to receive another great review of our latest CD! Please see below or click here for the online version.

Francesco Durante (1684-1755) made a profound mark on musical culture in early-18th-century Naples. His pupils at the city’s prestigious conservatories included Pergolesi, Traetta, Piccinni and Paisiello. A renowned composer of sacred music, Durante wrote at least three Requiems; an elaborate setting in C minor dated 1746 was probably written for Rome’s S Giacomo degli Spagnoli (in the Piazza Navona) to commemorate the recently deceased Philip V of Spain. More than 50 manuscript copies are dotted around the world, some of them written out as late as 1871, but the work has never been published. It has been edited for this recording by Stephen Darlington, who praises the way Durante’s music combines ‘mastery of counterpoint with an elegance of melody, a richness of harmony and a structural instinct’.

Sometimes singing in five parts and elsewhere in eight, Christ Church Cathedral Choir are on superb form in this skilfully woven music. The assured boy choristers are balanced elegantly with the unforced ease of the adult lay clerks. Durante’s string accompaniments are astutely varied and played by Oxford Baroque with perfect sincerity and stylistic finesse; an obvious dramatic trick is reeling downward spirals that insinuate hints of fire and brimstone in ‘Dies irae’ and ‘Quid sum miser’. The only departure from economical orchestral scoring is a subtle pair of natural horns used to splendid effect in ‘Tuba mirum’, an attractive soprano aria sung limpidly by Alexandra Kidgell. The plaintive quintet of soloists (drawn from The Sixteen), anguished choral supplications and Oxford Baroque’s players are articulately expressive in the vivid contrasts during ‘Ingemisco tamquam reus’. The suspension-laden passages for solo voices in ‘Lacrimosa’, unfurling choral lines in ‘Benedictus’ and imaginative harmonic twists in ‘Libera me’ all reveal hints of why the 18th-century music historian Charles Burney acclaimed Durante as the greatest harmonist of his time.

David Vickers, Gramophone, January 2017

 

0 Ghislaine Reece-Trapp shortlisted in this year’s Radio 3 Christmas Carol Competition

Ghislaine Reece-Trapp

A carol newly composed by Ghislaine Reece-Trapp, former Organ Scholar at Christ Church, has been shortlisted in this year’s Radio 3 Christmas Carol Competition. Radio 3 challenged amateur composers to create music for a modern version of a medieval English poem: ‘Alleluia! A new work is come on hand’. They were looking for carols of up to four minutes long written for four voices. Ghislaine’s entry can be heard at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4GqSnwVKhmb5DtNl7XFTBDF/radio-3-carol-competition-2016 (the 4th of 6th finalists).

Voting closes at 5pm tomorrow, 21st December.

0 The Sun Most Radiant – ‘utterly cool brilliance which blossoms into transcendent radiance’

The Sun Most Radiant - cover artwork of CD by Christ Church Cathedral Choir

We are delighted to receive two further appreciative reviews of our recent release, The Sun Most Radiant, Music from the Eton Choirbook, Vol. 4, in BBC Music Magazine and in Gramophone.

The Eton Choirbook, compiled around 1515, contains around 60 works by composers associated not only with Eton but also with the Chapel Royal and other institutions. It has never been recorded complete (a five-CD set by The Sixteen is the most comprehensive), and this latest disc from the ongoing Avie selection contains two first recordings – Browne’s Salve Regina II and Horwood’s Gaude flore virginali. These really are brilliantly composed works, and Stephen Darlington and the Christchurch Choir understand them better than most. In the case of Browne’s Salve Regina I, for example, the long, rhapsodic lines are given the time, direction and acoustic space to unfold organically and with clarity. They transpose the piece up a tone, as do The Sixteen on Coro, which gives it brightness, but the latter scramble through it in 11 minutes while Christchurch take 15. A similar deft spaciousness comes in this version of Stratford’s Magnificat when compared with the Tonus Peregrinus attempt on Naxos. Of the two premiere recordings, the Horwood item works best with the choir representing the trio sections with an utterly cool brilliance which blossoms into transcendent radiance at the entry of the full choir.

Anthony Pryer, BBC Music Magazine, December 2016

With this instalment of music from the Eton Choirbook, the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral sets out to rival The Sixteen’s five-volume anthology from the 1990s. Already it seems to me that they surpass it technically – which is remarkable considering the inevitable changes of personnel that time imposes on a choir with boy trebles – and interpretatively. As I noted of Vol 3 (11/14), they have also worked their way through those Eton pieces that had not been recorded before, and the quality of their performances has changed my appreciation of several ‘minor’ composers for the better.

Volume 4 is the most satisfying of the set since the first. Even by the standards of previous instalments, Stephen Darlington’s tempi are surprisingly relaxed, especially in duple-time sections. Judged by the clock one might even call them slow, but the textural detail is so clear that the abiding impression is of deliberation rather than ponderousness. The trebles have stamina and poise, and they understand how to shape their lines, as may be heard in John Browne’s Salve regina I and William Horwood’s Gaude flore virginali (the latter being new to the catalogue).

The adult cast is perhaps the strongest of the set so far: their reading of the Magnificat by one ‘William, Monk of Stratford’ is more nuanced than The Sixteen’s, so that a work that had seemed to me relevatively undistinguished comes across far more favourably. Browne’s Salve regina I (with trebles) has had several fine recordings but his Salve regina II for adult singers is the only one of his completely transmitted pieces that had never been committed to disc. Less immediately striking than its counterpart, the subtle interplay of its lines is increasingly absorbing the more one listens to it. Had more of Browne’s music survived, I have little doubt that he would be considered the equal of Dunstable and Taverner, and possibly even Tallis. As it is, no other Eton composer equals his technical resource or imagination. But there are still a couple of his motets left to record: dare we hope for a Vol 5?

Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’, November 2016