World-famous choir release 100th recording to mark 150th anniversary of St John’s Chapel

To celebrate the launch of the new album, Classic FM will live stream the Choir’s Evensong in Chapel to its Facebook page

Choral classics from the past two centuries will feature on the new album from the Choir of St John’s to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the College Chapel.

The construction of a new Chapel at St John’s in 1869 was intended to reflect the College’s royal status as a foundation of Lady Margaret Beaufort, philanthropist and mother of King Henry VII. The grand Victorian building was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, a renowned Gothic Revival architect, to replace a modest Tudor chapel which was itself a rebuilding of a thirteenth-century Hospital of St John. Consecrated on 12 May 1869, the now-famous tower of St John’s, which stands at 163 feet tall, is still a dominant feature of the Cambridge skyline and is visible from miles around. It attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Interior of the College ChapelThe interior of the Chapel at St John's

The choir’s hotly anticipated new album features choral classics from the past 150 years

St John’s has a distinguished tradition of religious music and the Chapel has been home to the St John’s Choir since the 1670s. One of the finest collegiate choirs in the world, the choir is known for its rich, warm and distinctive sound, and it is loved by millions from recordings, broadcasts and nearly 100 concert tours. The main duty of the choir is to sing the University of Cambridge term time Evensong services in Chapel.

The choir’s hotly anticipated new album, Locus Iste, features choral classics from the past 150 years such as Fair is the heaven by William Harris and Hymn to the Virgin by Benjamin Britten, alongside more modern musical commissions and contributions from College alumni and students.

The music on the album has been carefully selected by Andrew Nethsingha, Director of Music and Director of the Choir, to mark each of the ten-year periods since the consecration of the Chapel, showcasing some of the most exciting and moving pieces of their respective eras.

The choir recording Locus Iste

The Choir of St John's recording the new album Locus Iste in the College Chapel

"This new recording celebrates 150 years since the consecration of the College Chapel and contains 15 contrasting pieces across that 150-year period"

The CD illustrates both historic and modern life at the College and Chapel, including an anthem by Dr Christopher Robinson, former Director of Music at St John’s. The second commissioned piece on the disc is Alex Woolf’s motet, O vos omnes. Woolf won the BBC Composer of the Year competition in 2012 while still studying Music at St John’s. He went on to graduate with a First.

The cello solo of Swayne’s piece is performed by current St John’s College student Laura van der Heijden, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition in 2012 – the same year as Woolf. She is currently performing at world-class venues all over the world, whilst completing her Music degree at St John’s.

Mr Nethsinga said: “We are excited to be releasing the choir’s 100th album, 60 years after the Choir’s first LP for the Argo label. This new recording celebrates 150 years since the consecration of the College Chapel and contains 15 contrasting pieces across that 150-year period.”

The Old and New Chapel

A photo taken after the completion of the new College Chapel with the old Chapel still standing in front of it

To celebrate the launch of the new album, Classic FM will live stream the Choir’s Evensong in Chapel to its Facebook page on Friday, April 26 at 6.30pm. Viewers of the video stream will be able to hear two tracks from the new release - Adam lay ibounden by Giles Swayne and Jesu, grant me this, I pray by Christopher Robinson.

Locus Iste will be available from 26 April 2019

 

Published: 26/04/19

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