The academic year 2015-16 saw a great range of musical activity organised by the Merton College Music Society (MCMS). Throughout the year, weekly lunchtime recitals were held in the TS Eliot Theatre, including performances from all nine of Merton’s Music undergraduates and other musicians from Merton and beyond. Particularly notable were the recitals in Trinity Term by our three Music finalists, Peter Shepherd (piano; 2013), Tom Herring (bass-baritone; 2013) and Alex Ho (piano; 2013), all of whom offered performance at Finals, as well as an excellent evening piano recital given by History and Russian second-year Sofia Vaz Pinto Simoes Coelho (2014). At the end of Michaelmas Term, the TS Eliot Theatre also hosted a well-attended evening of Christmas jazz and cocktails, with appearances from Merton secondyears Olivia Williams, Peter Thickett and Lila Chrisp (all 2014).
The Kodály Choir and Fidelio Orchestra, MCMS’s unauditioned student-run ensembles in conjunction with University and Oriel colleges, rehearsed and performed termly recitals in Merton Chapel. The Kodály Choir was conducted throughout the year by Music first-year Freddie Crowley (2015), while the Fidelio Orchestra performed under the batons of Alex Little (2015; Junior Organ Scholar), Theophilus Kwek (2013; History and Politics), Seung-Eon Yoo (Univ 2013), and Benjamin Nicholas (Reed Rubin Director of Music).
The Michaelmas recital included a full performance of Schubert’s 5th Symphony by the Fidelio Orchestra and a varied programme from the Kodály Choir, including music by contemporary composer Alec Roth. Hilary Term saw an unprecedented collaboration between choir and orchestra to perform a new orchestration of Purcell’s ‘Bell Anthem’, Rejoice in the Lord Alway, as well as a rendition by the Kodály Choir of Evening Song by Zoltán Kodály, after whom the choir is named. The Trinity recital rounded off the year with orchestral music by Walton and Haydn and a choral programme ranging from music by Thomas Tallis to arrangements of Bridge over Troubled Water (Paul Simon) and Close to You (The Carpenters).
Next year, MCMS hopes to expand and draw in Mertonians as well as students from across the University to participate in the Kodály Choir and Fidelio Orchestra, to provide wider opportunities in a secular context for unauditioned singing and playing in Oxford. Next term we will continue to host weekly lunchtime recitals in the TS Eliot Theatre, and the Fidelio Orchestra is planning to perform Schubert’s 8th ‘Unfinished’ Symphony at the Michaelmas recital in late November.
Freddie Crowley (2015)
Merton College Music Society President 2016-17