The Choir of Merton College, Oxford, in 2015 - Photo: © John Cairns - www.johncairns.co.uk

The Choir of Merton College

The Choir of Merton College is one of Oxford’s leading mixed-voice choirs and sings the services, during term-time, in the thirteenth century chapel. The choir consists of thirty undergraduates and post-graduates, many of whom hold choral scholarships at Merton College. Tours have included France (2009, 2010, 2011, 2016, and 2017), the USA (2011, 2014, and 2016), Sweden (2013), and Italy (2017). Recent performances have included Duruflé’s Requiem in Gloucester Cathedral, as part of the Cheltenham Music Festival, 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 première of David Briggs's Messe Solennelle in St Paul’s Cathedral. Regular appearances in London include concerts at Cadogan Hall, St John’s Smith Square, and The Temple Church.

The choir plays a leading role in the annual Passiontide at Merton festival, including performances of Bach's Mass in B minor, St John and St Matthew Passions, Handel's Messiah, MacMillan's Seven Last Words, and Arvo Pärt's Passio. In the 2014 festival the choir gave the premiere of Gabriel Jackson’s The Passion of our Lord.

The choir's debut CD In the Beginning featured music by Gombert, Weelkes, Holst, Copland and Jackson and was named 'Gramophone Choice' in the December 2011 edition of Gramophone; Viri Galilaei was named as a Critic’s Choice of 2016 by Gramophone; and their most recent recording, O Holy Night, is a disc of Christmas music made with the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra. A new recording of choral music of Richard Allain will be released later this year. Merton College Choir regularly broadcasts live on BBC Radio 3. Particular highlights have included a broadcast of Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia as part of the composer’s centenary celebrations in 2013, and two broadcasts in 2017, the second of which was Choral Evensong from St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. The choir was filmed for the BBC series Music & the Monarchy.

In the last few years Merton College Choir has given first performances of new choral works by Judith Weir, John Tavener, James MacMillan, Jonathan Dove, Ēriks Ešenvalds and Cecilia McDowall, and in November 2014 gave the première of a new motet by Sir Harrison Birtwistle.  The choir spent 2014 in a 'new music' partnership with Choir & Organ magazine, and enjoys a relationship with Faber & Faber as 'choir in association'.

Press

  • "Tuneful, delicate, articulate, and attentive" Church Times, July 2018
  • "this choir is a 2008 creation, yet has quickly gained distinction" Sunday Times, December 2013
  • "the superb performances are characterised by a phenomenal sense of control and restraint, with every note carefully crafted and bathed in the radiant acoustic of the college chapel" Church Music Quarterly, March 2014
  • "one of the UK's finest choral ensembles" Gramophone, December 2011
  • "outstanding" Guardian, October 2011

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