The Choir primarily exists to sing for Evensong in the College Chapel on Thursdays and Sundays during term time, but also participates in numerous other performance opportunities throughout the year. These include termly concerts which mainly involve performances of larger works with orchestra, special services and events, and regular overseas tours and residencies at English Cathedrals. We have a special link with Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, and exchange visits occur from time to time.
The Choir is mixed-voice group, with the majority being Choral Scholars who are selected in competitive auditions prior to their entry to the University. On occasion, vacancies arise for able musicians from the wider University and city community and are filled through a process of rigorous selection. Succesful candidates are provided with singing tuition, free Formal Hall on Thursday evenings, and a generous scholarship.
Details of how to apply to join the choir can be found here. The choir is led and directed by a professional Director of Music, assisted by two undergraduate Organ Scholars.
The choir’s concert repertoire has included Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium, which was performed with The Cardinall’s Musick. The choir has also performed with the Oxford Camerata, Merton College Choir, and Keble College Choir. Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem (Op. 48) has also been performed in recent years, along with Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s Magnificat and our biennial performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. St Peter’s is very fortunate to have good relations with several well-known contemporary composers: Dr Andrew Gant is a member of the teaching staff of the College, and works have also recently been written for the Choir by Philip Cooke and David Goode. The Choir also counts widely known names in the choral and conducting worlds as friends: Paul Spicer and James Lancelot are frequent visitors, as well as the Choirs of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, whilst Ralph Allwood conducts an annual masterclass with the choir.
The Choir is known for its level of excellence and its members are especially prominent in the wider University and city music scene. All of the University and city churches’ professional choirs number St Peter’s singers among their ranks, as does the University’s foremost chamber choir Schola Cantorum. Members of the Choir can regularly be seen in the cast lists of Oxford’s opera scene, and St Peter’s is one of only two Colleges to put on its own productions: recent performances have included Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneus.
Instrumental and Orchestral music feature highly as well, with leading members of both Oxford University Philharmonia and Orchestra being members of the Choir, and recent Organ and Choral Scholars having been heavily involved in directing Oxford’s major orchestras. The student run College Music Society organises a weekly lunchtime recital series as well as more substantial evening concerts.
The Choir have many other talents and interests away from music: recent members have combined their scholarships with rigorous academic study, participation in University level sport, student politics and journalism, drama, radio, the Officer Training Corps and a whole host of activities besides, as well having an active social life!