Choral collaboration at Somerville College Oxford

By Doug McIlwraith, Director of Music

Last Saturday 23 singers from the chamber choir joined the choir of Somerville College Oxford to sing choral contemplation. Somerville College is a little different from other Oxbridge colleges as although they have a chapel, they are non-denominational, which means the services are not religious but are a bit like the Jaws we have at Bedales. In fact, there are many similarities between our two communities and we share many of the same values, which meant that we felt quite at home when we arrived.

The choirs sang a challenging programme of music depicting the passing of the hours throughout the day, from the darkness before the dawn to daybreak, noon and evening. Block 5 student Joel Edgeworth started the service with a piano solo based on the jazz standard Stella by Starlight, and then the combined choirs sang Sure on this Shining Night by the American composer Morten Lauridsen, O Radiant Dawn by the Scottish composer James MacMillan, Silent Noon (with a stunning solo by Florence Pohlschmidt) by Vaughan Williams, My Spirit Sang all Day by Old Bedalian parent Gerald Finzi, before finishing with Evening Hymn by the Victorian composer Henry Balfour-Gardiner.

The music was interspersed with poetry readings of works by Shakespeare, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Jenny Joseph, Eleanor Wilner and Emily Dickinson, and Joel and Block 4 student Siena Marcos Bancroft Cooke performed these with confidence. Will Goldsmith also gave a reading and sang with choirs alongside Natalie and Doug, and many thanks to Matilda McMorrow for accompanying us on the trip.

It was inspiring to sing with the Somerville undergraduates and we had a chance to talk to them over coffee and find out a bit more about college life. For all those thinking about choosing a university, it was good to reflect on how a community supports its students and the intimate confines of Somerville College reminded us of the supportive community we have here at Bedales.

Singing Evensong at Queens’ College, Cambridge

Queen's-College-Cambridge

By Sampson Keung, 6.2 and Music Don

On Wednesday, the Bedales Choir had the opportunity to go to the University of Cambridge and join the Choir from Queens’ College for their Evensong service in the college chapel. It was a wonderful experience to sing in a beautiful chapel with fantastic acoustics.

Repertoires from the evening included Dyson’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimmitis in D, as well as Haydn’s Insanae et vanae curae. The service was conducted by Eton College’s former Director of Music, Ralph Allwood, who, some will remember, visited Bedales in October 2019 for a sight reading workshop. The audience enjoyed the high quality of singing from the choir, who were accompanied by a former organ scholar from Cambridge, and we were all impressed by his virtuous performance.

As well as the Evensong service, we had the chance to take a tour around the University of Cambridge with Old Bedalian Josh Mazas, who is currently studying at [college]. Thank you so much to Doug McIlwraith for organising this amazing trip, and Jo Mayhook-Walker and Phillip Guy-Bromley for their help with the choir.