26th February 2020

Selwyn College Choir

Selwyn College Choir

Selwyn College Chapel Choir has led worship in the College Chapel since its foundation in the last decade of the nineteenth century. For the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, the all-male choir of undergraduates was directed by the Organ Scholars, and sang daily Choral Evensong. For occasional larger works, the men borrowed sopranos and altos from Newnham College, the women’s College across the road from Selwyn. The mixed choir, formed in 1976 with the admission of women to Selwyn, now consists of up to twenty-eight singers, Choral Scholars (called Choral Exhibitioners) and volunteers, and the choir’s link with Newnham continues to the present day. Most of the choir members are undergraduates or graduates at Selwyn or Newnham, with a few volunteers from other colleges, and they read a variety of subjects including Music, English, Natural Sciences, and Engineering.The choir is conducted by the Director of Music, who is assisted by two Organ Scholars, who are normally undergraduates at Selwyn.

John Armitage Memorial Trust (JAM), Selwyn Choir has premiered major new works by some of the UK’s foremost composers, including Jonathan Dove, John McCabe, Gabriel Jackson, Paul Patterson, Judith Bingham, Steve Martland, and Adam Gorb. The choir regularly works with international guest conductors, recently including Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Mark Elder, David Hill, Sir David Lumsden, Judith Clurman (Juilliard School, New York), Grayston Ives, Andrew Carwood, Christopher Robinson, Nicholas Cleobury, and Peter Godfrey (New Zealand National Youth Choir).

The choir has made a number of recordings, for labels including Priory, Herald, URM, Kevin Mayhew, and Regent Records, with whom they work most frequently. They have made something of a niche for themselves recording single-living-composer discs, and have released several, including discs of works by Colin Mawby, Paul Spicer, Paul Edwards, Gary Higginson, Alan Bullard, and Phillip Cooke. Currently in production are recordings of works by John Hosking, and another Alan Bullard disc, as well as a popular Christmas disc. The choir’s most recent release is “The Eternal Ecstasy” featuring music by Paul Mealor, Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, John Tavener, and James MacMillan, and other proponents of the so-called Choral Ecstatic Style, which was featured on Classic FM, and spent three weeks in the specialist charts. The title track, a setting of words from the Ecstasy of St Theresa, was commissioned specially for the disc from Phillip Cooke. Planned for the future are first recordings of choral music by the composers Mark Gotham, Benjamin Ponniah, and Iain Quinn.

Cambridge Filmworks filmed the choir singing both a seasonal and secular piece. The films capture the Choir’s performances as well as life at Selwyn College and the stunning Chapel architecture via aerial filming.

To find out more about Selwyn College Choir please visit: https://www.sel.cam.ac.uk/about/chapel-and-choir

Cambridge Filmworks

Cambridge Video Productions



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