This has been an important year for me personally celebrating my thirtieth anniversary conducting the College Choir and in October I will celebrate twenty-five years as Director of Music. I was thrilled to welcome back former choir members from three decades to our Gloria! concert in March with an alumni chorus joining our current choir, accompanied by Prime Brass and alumnus organist Dr Stephen Rose, to perform Rutter’s ever-popular Gloria. The packed concert at St Mark’s Church was followed by a choir reunion dinner in college, where ninety or so singers helped me celebrate thirty years at Wolfson. We ended the evening with everyone in the dining hall singing Amy Beach’s beautiful anthem, Peace I leave with you. I may have shed a tear or two.
The music returns
It is this year that has finally felt like ‘normal’ again following the post-COVID delay in return to participation in and attendance at events. Concert attendance is back to pre-COVID numbers with almost 3,000 people attending Wolfson music events this year, and choir numbers are very healthy again with a large and supportive student membership.
Our PhD students have performed at lunchtime concerts, organized new music performances, premiered recordings of their PhD compositions or given talks on their work through the Humanities Society.
Wolfson College Music Society (WCMS) President, Saman Samadi has just released an album Thus spake earth of compositions written as part of his PhD thesis.
Wayne Weaver (Music PhD candidate) gave a fascinating talk on his research on music in eighteenth-century Kingston and the life and works of the Anglo-Jamaican composer Samuel Felsted (1743-1802). We look forward to reading the finished journal article in Eighteenth-Century Music later this summer and to a future performance of Felsted’s oratorio The Dedication.
Undergraduate music student Lily Blundell has conducted or played in various University musicals and wrote and performed a one-woman show at the Corpus Playroom. She also accompanied Wolfson students at lunchtime concerts and sang in ensembles. This August another of her musicals will be performed at the Camden People’s Theatre.
Wolfson on the University stage
Brian Moore Accompanist Scholar, Patrick Pan, was a finalist and prize-winner in the University Concerto Competition, playing Prokofiev - Piano Concerto no. 3, mvt. 1. At his prize-winners concert he performed the entire Prokofiev Concerto with the University Symphony Orchestra at West Rd Concert Hall. Patrick gave a farewell recital in June before leaving for further studies in the USA.
WCMS Secretary & Choral Scholar, Jessi Rogers, performed in the University’s Musical Society Gala, and sang roles in several shows including Kiss me Kate, Chess, and Mr Burns. Next term she will direct Drowsy Chaperone at the ADC Theatre.
Concert highlights have included our Saturday lunchtime concert series with performances by students ranging from classical piano through to music theatre and jazz. Our Jazz & Madeira concert welcomed back alumnus pianist Franz Nowak, and Early Music & Madeira treated a full Lee Hall to music of the Scottish Baroque, directed by Dr Dan Tidhar. Dynamic young vocal ensemble, The Swan Consort, directed by Anita Datta presented a programme based on Bird Song from the Renaissance through to the modern day.
The College Choir diversified its repertoire exploring many new works by female contemporary composers, and enjoyed trying new styles, including Reena Esmail’s Tarekita, a fusion of Hindustani and Western Classical music at the Diwali concert. Our Garden Party performance was somewhat dampened by a torrential downpour, but spirits remained high as we sang in the Club Room instead of the gardens, encouraging the large (wet) audience to join us in a performance of a song from the Brazilian Rainforest.
The Mary Bevan Recital wrapped up the year including some thrilling playing by the winner and runner-up of the University Concert Competition. Madeleine Brown (piano) and Jenny Ryan (Oboe), accompanied by pianist Alex Trigg. They gave virtuosic performances to a large audience, including Jane Bevan, daughter of the late Prof Hugh, and Mary Bevan.