Members of the Music Society rehearsing in the antechapel in 2017

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. All are welcome.

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.



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