Choir Report 2009-2010

The whole community of College, Chapel and School was shocked and saddened by the death in September of the Dean of Chapel, Ian Thompson, who had been a pastor to and friend and supporter of so many of us. The choral scholars sang at the Requiem Mass held on the eve of his funeral, and the whole Choir was able to pay tribute in the subsequent Memorial Service: both these services were attended by a large congregation. We were exceptionally fortunate during the year, in these circumstances, to have Richard Lloyd Morgan as Acting Dean, assisted by the former Dean of Pembroke, Brian Watchorn: these two have continued to conduct chapel services with great dignity, and to be a firm source of support and encouragement to the Choir.

Easter at King’s and Concerts at King’s are now well established in the calendar and the Choir plays an important role in these. Alongside them, the Choir has enjoyed a varied sequence of concerts, broadcasting and recording: this activity, as always, being informed and inspired by the singing of regular chapel services. The College’s resident string quartet, the Dante, has continued to enhance Sunday morning Eucharist once a term by accompanying a mass setting.

Abroad the Choir has visited Germany twice, failed to reach Budapest in December because of snow, and travelled to three French festivals in the summer. There have been two visits to the Royal Albert Hall: the annual Christmas concert with the Philharmonia was followed in May by an appearance of the choristers as part of an evening in honour of my predecessor but one as Director of Music, Sir David Willcocks (Honorary Fellow). Sir David conducted the Choir in a CD recording to mark his 90th birthday which is due for release in November 2010. One of the great benefits of being in the Choir is that opportunities for widening musical horizons come along quite regularly. For the present members to sing under David’s direction was a great experience. They also had the chance to perform with Bryn Terfel and the Philharmonia Orchestra in February, and to give three concerts during the year with the leading period instrument orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music. The composer, James MacMillan, conducted his Westminster Mass at the Maundy Thursday service, and heard the Choir, with the Philharmonia Chorus and the BBC Concert Orchestra and Mark Stone (KC 1987) in a performance of his St John Passion the following day, which was broadcast live by BBC Radio 3. During the year, the Choir also sang at the Senate House on the occasion of the University’s Loyal Address to H.M. The Queen, following which the choristers presented a Choir CD to Her Majesty, who told them that she always listens to and watches the annual Christmas broadcasts.

In July the Choir visited the College’s largest living, Prescot, Lancashire, where the Vicar and parishoners offered a very warm welcome. A concert at Chester Cathedral followed, as well as a performance in Chapel of Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, a work later given in France, and at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Stephen Cleobury

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