Merton College Music Society

Ensembles: Kodály Choir and the Fidelio Orchestra

About the Society

The Merton College Music Society serves the students, faculty and staff of Merton College and the University of Oxford by supporting a non-auditioned choir and a non-auditioned orchestra, and by producing a bi-weekly series of student and professional recitals. The public concerts and recitals take place in Merton's 13th-century Chapel and the TS Eliot Theatre as well as in the Mure Room, overlooking Rose Lane.

Kodály Choir

The Kodály Choir is one of the oldest functioning non-auditioned choirs at Oxford University. In 1960 Kodály himself conducted the choir in the performance of his Te Deum while he was at Oxford to receive an honorary doctorate. Currently the choir rehearses weekly for a performance at the end of each term in Merton Chapel, alongside — and often with — the Fidelio Orchestra. Recent performances have included Mozart's Requiem, Fauré's Requiem and Handel's Coronation Anthems.

Fidelio Orchestra

The Fidelio Orchestra is a friendly and welcoming non-auditioned college orchestra which performs to a good standard. Rehearsing weekly on Fridays from 4:00-6:00pm at the College (with the customary biscuit break around 5:00pm), it gives a termly concert in the Chapel. Recent repertoire has included Schubert's 'Unfinished' Symphony No.8, the Chaminade Flute Concertino, and Brahms' Hungarian Dances. Concerts are well-attended and often followed by a drinks reception.

Tom Fetherstonhaugh (2016) and Athena Hawksley-Walker (2016) at the Holywell Music Rooms - Photo: © Benjamin Nicholas

This past academic year has been an exciting time for the Merton College Music Society, with many students, both Mertonians and not, getting involved with the College’s music-making.

Michaelmas term saw a number of excellent lunchtime recitals in the TS Eliot Theatre, including the Freshers’ Concert, which demonstrated the diverse musical talent of Merton’s new student intake. Hilary term brought with it not only a copious amount of ice and snow (making the Chapel too cold for Fidelio Orchestra to play in at one point), but also the Oxford & Durham Jazz Off – an event that Oxford clearly won – and the MCMS Showcase Concert, giving students from all years a chance to perform in front of the Warden.

Trinity began with a bang as Tom Fetherstonhaugh (2016) and Athena Hawksley-Walker (2016), performed Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas Nos. 5 and 7 live on Radio 3. Furthermore Fidelio Orchestra were given a chance to show off their skills in the College Chapel, playing a selection of movements from Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat major. MCMS’s involvement with Oxford’s a cappella groups continued, with the TS Eliot hosting The Oxford Commas for their annual Trinity Term Concert – an occasion whose smooth running I owe to the brilliant efforts of my Co-President, Lucy Gibbs (2017). I think most who attended would agree that the combined talent of both Kodály Choir and Merton Chapel Choir was displayed fully in this year’s Merton Big Sing; the performance of such choral classics as I was glad and Jerusalem providing a fitting end to the musical events of the term.

Next year, we very much looking forward to expanding our horizons, while continuing the tradition of lunchtime recitals, with plans to independently organise a selection of larger-scale musical events. Lucy and I would like to thank Ben Nicholas and all the other musicians for their continued involvement and support, and we excitedly await the new talent arriving in October.

Will Thomson (2017)
MCMS Co-President 2017-18