The College Chapel dates back to the end of the thirteenth century and stands at the heart of our ancient College as a witness to Christian worship over almost 750 years. Today the Chapel is home to a lively and diverse Christian community which continues this faithful offering of worship with daily services during term time. Visitors are welcome to join members of the College at all our services. Each year a number of Mertonians get married here, and the Chapel is also a popular venue for concerts and plays. To find out more, contact the Chaplain, Simon Jones.
The Choir of Merton College is one of Oxford's leading mixed-voice choirs. The thirty singers are undergraduate and postgraduate students at Oxford University and study a range of subjects. The choir's principal focus is the sung services in the thirteenth century chapel at Merton College, which in addition to concert tours and recordings, makes for a busy schedule. Recent tours include France (2009, 2010 and 2011) and in the USA (2011), as well as giving numerous concerts in the UK. Recent performances have included Tallis's Spem in alium in the Beaujolais Festival, Mozart's Requiem in St Germain-des-Prés, Paris, Orff''s Carmina Burana in the St Jude's Proms, the premiere of David Briggs's Messe Solennelle in St Paul's Cathedral and a concert in St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh. During 2013 the choir sang in Westminster Abbey and toured in Sweden. The choir plays a leading role in the annual Passiontide at Merton festival, including performances of Bach's St John Passion, Handel's Messiah and Arvo Pärt's Passio in 2013. The 2014 festival will see the premiere of Gabriel Jackson's The Passion of the Lord.
The choir are the 2014 New Music partners of Choir & Organ magazine. In partnership with the magazine we are holding a Composition Competition, with a prize of £1,000, sponsored by Rhinegold Publishing Ltd. Full details of the competition and how to enter can be found on the Choir & Organ website.
The choir's recordings on the Delphian label include In the beginning, featuring music by Gombert, Weelkes, Holst, Copland and Jackson, which was named 'Gramophone Choice' in the December 2011 edition of Gramophone. Advent at Merton, released in November 2012, spent six weeks in the specialist classical charts. The choir has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and recorded for the BBC series Story of England. In February 2013, the choir were filmed for BBC's Music & the Monarchy.
The choir displays a strong commitment to contemporary music, having given first performances of new pieces by Ešenvalds, Dubra, Jackson, Martin, McDowall, Skempton and Tavener over recent months. In 2014, when the college celebrates its 750th anniversary, the choir will give the first performance of the Merton Choirbook. A recent collaboration with OUP was the fiftieth anniversary concert of 'Carols for Choirs', and in 2012 the choir began an association with Faber & Faber.
Information about booking the Chapel for concerts and recordings is available to download. For any further enquiries, please contact the Chapel Administrator, Rachel Fright.
Sunday Times, December 2012
Gramophone, December 2011
Guardian, October 2011