Choral and Chapel Music
There is a palpable buzz of excitement about choral singing at Marlborough. The Chapel Choir – currently comprised of around 65 auditioned singers from all year groups – is one of the most high-profile pupil groups in College.
The foremost responsibility of the Chapel Choir is to lead the worship in the beautiful, vast, Neo-Gothic College Chapel. The choir sings at the weekly College Eucharist or Morning Prayer on Sunday mornings, as well as on major occasions such as the Advent and Christmas Carol Services (see article from Wiltshire Life), Prize Day and Commemoration services, Confirmation, Remembrance and Old Marlburian Club Day. The repertoire is varied in terms of style and genre, from plainsong to music from the present day (see Music Lists below). In recent years the choir has been fortunate enough to enjoy workshops led by Matthew Owens (Wells Cathedral) and with the King’s Singers.
The choir enjoys frequent performance opportunities outside College, most recently to sing Evensong at Winchester and Gloucester Cathedrals and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The choir also sings annually at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Members of the choir also have the opportunity to tour regularly. A tour to Bayeux and Paris (including St-Eustache and Notre Dame) was highly successful, and was the basis of an article written by the Master in the Daily Telegraph (see article from the Telegraph below). At the end of the 2016 Michaelmas Term, the choir took a programme of advent and Christmas music to Poland, performing five very well received masses and concerts in Kraków and the surrounding area. Click here for a full report.
A CD of the choir was released in 2011 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the construction of the College Chapel. In September 2015 the choir recorded a CD of Advent and Christmas music, available from the College.
Many members of the Chapel Choir have gone on to win Choral Scholarships at various universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. Prospective applicants in the Lower Sixth are invited to join a special programme aimed to improve sight-reading and aural awareness in preparation for the auditions which happen either during their Upper Sixth year or once they have started at their university of choice.
Parents, both current and prospective, and guests are always welcome to join us at Chapel services when the choir sings; please see the Music Lists below for details.
The recently re-founded Chamber Choir is a small group of the school’s most senior singers; all Upper Sixth members of the Chapel Choir are invited to join. The Chamber Choir performs a mixture of sacred and secular repertoire to a high standard.
The performance opportunities enjoyed by the Chamber Choir are many and varied, from Chapel services, to concerts in College and externally. One of the highlights of the Chamber Choir’s calendar is the early-morning performance of madrigals on May Day atop the Bradleian Arches in the College Court.
The Compline Choir is a group formed of the finest singers in the school in the Remove, Hundred, and Sixth Form, by invitation. Many of these singers are ex-Cathedral choristers, the repertoire aiming to challenge and reward the brightest and most talented, beyond the diet of the Chapel Choir. They sing Compline at least one evening a term, alongside other performance opportunities. Most past members of the Compline Choir have gone on to win Choral Scholarships at universities.
The Junior Singers is a choir specifically for girls in the first year at Marlborough. A group of between twenty and thirty Shell girls meets every week in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms, working towards concert performances and Chapel services, including the Advent Carol Service. They sing a mixture of sacred and secular repertoire, including songs from musicals.
In 1934 the College Musical Society performed a large-scale choral work with orchestra in Chapel, establishing a tradition that continues today. Now made up of nearly 300 members, the Marlborough College Choral Society has, in recent years, performed major works such as Requiems by Verdi (2015), Mozart (2014), Brahms (2013), Fauré, Dvorak and Rutter, as well as Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation, and Bach’s St. John Passion and Mass in B minor.
For information about the concert of joining the Choral Society, please contact the Music Department Administrator via the details listed below.
In 2013, a choir of members of staff was founded. Comprising of around 30 members of Common Room, the Beaks’ Choir leads a Sunday Chapel service in the Michaelmas Term, and has sung a service of Compline.
Get in Contact
For further information about choral music at Marlborough, or to join the Choral Society, please contact Amanda Brown: (01672) 892481 or email@example.com
Music in Chapel
Marlborough’s vast Neo-Gothic Chapel, designed by Bodley and Garner and consecrated in 1886, is at the centre of College both physically and spiritually. Collective worship has been offered on this site since the College’s foundation in 1843. The Chapel Choir, made up of around seventy 13 to 18 year-olds, enriches services by singing anthems, motets, psalms, canticles, and masses at the weekly College Eucharist or Morning Prayer. The diet of music is varied – from plainsong to music of the present day – and appropriate to the time or season. We are proud to present some of these performances on the website as part of the College’s ongoing mission and outreach, for the benefit and enjoyment of parents, OMs, friends of the College, and any other interested parties.
These recordings are ‘as live’ and unedited, sung by teenagers on a Sunday morning; please forgive any coughs, sneezes, creaky pews, suspect ensemble, eyebrow-raising tuning, or plain old-fashioned wrong notes! They are not presented as concerts or polished CD-like recordings, but as warts-and-all slices of our worship. Listeners are able to experience something of what it is like to be with the College community in Chapel on a Sunday morning. Unless noted, the fine 2006 von Beckerath organ is played by the College Organist, Mr. Ian Crabbe.
More information can be found on the twice-termly music lists. We very much hope you enjoy listening.
• Wiltshire Life article – “Eat, pray, love, play rugby, and sing out loud”