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Artist Hyperion Records
Jesus College Choir Cambridge

Jesus College Choir Cambridge

Jesus College Cambridge is distinctive in maintaining two choirs: the Chapel Choir, dating from the foundation of the College in 1496 and re-founded and endowed in 1849, which is made up of boy choristers and adult male singers; and the College Choir, formed in 1982 following the admission of women undergraduates, which has female sopranos and altos. The adult male singers form the ‘back row’ for both choirs. Each ensemble has developed a distinctive reputation and repertoire, while combining for key events and large-scale projects in the College Chapel (which dates back to the twelfth century) and elsewhere, all under the direction of Richard Pinel, Director of Music since 2017. Whilst their principal responsibility is to sing for services in the College’s ancient and beautiful Chapel, the Choirs regularly collaborate with professional orchestras and instrumental ensembles, including Britten Sinfonia, Fretwork and the Saraband Consort. The Choirs also have an expanding discography, recording for the Signum label. Their latest disc, Byrd|Britten, was released to critical acclaim in February 2017, entering the UK Specialist Classical Charts in the top ten. Praised by The Sunday Times in July 2014 for their 'exquisite blend and shape' the choirs have given recent concerts in Malta, Italy, Germany, France and the USA. In 2017, the Choristers of the Chapel Choir performed in Britten’s War Requiem in Saffron Hall and collaborated with prog-rock band Big Big Train in a chart-topping Christmas single. In March 2013 the College Choir undertook a pioneering project in the slums of Mumbai with the charity Songbound, continuing that international educational work with a tour of Sri Lanka in December 2014, and South Africa in July 2018. Members of the College Choir study a wide array of subjects and the boy choristers, aged 8 to 14, are drawn from local schools.

The College Choir sings two services of Choral Evensong each week and regularly performs at College feasts, additional services and concerts throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. Recently, the Choir has given critically acclaimed performances of Bach’s St John Passion, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle; participated in the BBC Proms as part of the University’s 800th anniversary celebrations; and recorded broadcasts for BBC TV and Radios 2, 3 and 4. The Choir also has a rapidly expanding discography. Praised by The Times for their 'energy, verve, immaculate tuning and beguiling tone', Jesus Choral Scholars enjoy an exciting schedule of European and long-haul travel: the Choir has given recent concerts in Hong Kong and China and will performed in the National Arts Festival of South Africa in July 2018.

The all-male Chapel Choir is one of only three college choirs of its kind in Cambridge, and is highly regarded. It is thought that boys may have sung in the Chapel from the foundation of the College in the fifteenth century, but in 1849 the Choir was re-endowed and provision was made for 'six singing boys' to adorn the worship of the newly-restored Chapel. Since then, trebles from all over Cambridge have volunteered to sing for College services. The College does not maintain a choir school, but instead recruits choristers from a wide range of local schools.

The Chapel Choir sings for two of the four Choral Evensongs each week, and also participates in services, events and concerts outside of the usual weekly routine. Performances have taken the full Choir to venues as diverse as the Abbaye de Solesmes, France and the Nicolaikirche in Leipzig and, more recently, in Edinburgh and Dunblane. In 2008, 2010 and 2012, the trebles collaborated with the Choir of King’s College and the Academy of Ancient Music for performances of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. The Choir also leads singing days which see hundreds of local schoolchildren visiting Jesus College Chapel to take part in vocal workshops and a final concert.

Occasionally, the College and Chapel Choirs join together for services and concerts, forming an ensemble of nearly fifty singers, known as the Combined Choirs. Recent projects have included Mahler’s Third Symphony in King’s College Chapel under Paul Daniel; two Christmas Celebration concerts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by John Rutter; Britten’s St Nicolas with Britten Sinfonia; Fauré’s Requiem and works by Poulenc and Rodney Bennett, also with Britten Sinfonia; Bach’s St Matthew Passion in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Monteverdi’s Vespers with His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, and Haydn’s 'Nelson' Mass with the Saraband Consort. The combined choirs toured Germany together in July 2012, performing in Arnstadt, Bad Langensalza, Halle and Leipzig. In December 2012 they undertook a tour of the west coast of the United States of America, performing in Seattle, Portland, Oakland and San Francisco, in July 2015 appeared together in Lille, France and in December 2016 they travelled to Italy.


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