Girton is unique among Cambridge colleges in the richness and diversity of its musical life. With no fewer than six senior members directly involved with music, the College provides unmatched support for Music students and, equally, for those non-Music students interested in performance.
The College’s musical life is based around a weekly recital series, termly orchestral concerts, and the activities of the prize-winning Chapel Choir. In addition, we host lighter musical events, such as jazz evenings and the annual Girton pantomime.
In addition, we provide world-class practice instruments: four grand pianos (including a Steinway Model B, one of the best in the University), a Milan Misina double-manual harpsichord (regularly used in concerts and professional recordings), two organs (a small continuo instrument, and a much admired four-manual, mechanical-action Swiss organ), as well as pianos for all Music students.
In 2002 we acquired a new four-manual mechanical-action organ, constructed by the outstanding Swiss firm, St-Martin. It was conceived as a versatile instrument, equally at home in Baroque, Romantic, and twentieth-century repertoire, and is widely acknowledged to be among the best instruments in Cambridge.
Top international soloists such as Guy Bovet and David Sanger have been impressed with the organ, calling it “marvellous”, “splendid”, and “spectacular” and it is in popular demand as a practice and teaching instrument among the great and the good.
- Bourdon 16
- Montre 8
- Flûte à cheminée 8
- Prestant 4
- Flageolet 2
- Fourniture IV-V (Extrait: 1 1/3)
- Bourdon 8
- Flûte à fuseaux 4
- Doublette 2
- Sesquialtera II (Extrait: 2 2/3)
- Mixture III (Extrait: 1 1/3)
- Cromorne 8
- Flûte harmonique 8
- Gambe 8
- Voix céleste 8
- Flûte octaviante 4
- Octavin II (Extrait: 2)
- Hautbois 8
- Basson 16
- Trompette 8
- Cornet V
- Accouplements: IV/I; III/I, II/I, III/II
- Soubasse 16
- Principal 8
- Bourdon 8
- Octave 4
- Basson 16 (Solo)
- Tirasses: IV/P, III/P, II/P, I/P
Girton College Chapel Choir
Girton College Chapel Choir is an international-prize-winning choir of some 25 members, which has grown in prominence over the last ten years, due to its impressive musical standards, regular recordings, and ambitious, exciting touring schedule. One of the main attractions to students is the combination of low time commitment and high musical standards.
During Full Term, the Choir’s principal function is to sing the liturgy in Girton’s Chapel. This includes Choral Evensong every Sunday, and Compline (a beautiful, meditative evening service) every Tuesday, and Vespers every Friday. For this, the Choir rehearses just twice a week.
The Choir contributes significantly to College life, often singing at College occasions such as the Foundation Dinner and the College Feast; dining at these functions is another of the perks for the Choir.
Girton Choir is one of the most accomplished, committed and exciting choirs in Cambridge. As you can see elsewhere, the benefits of membership are wide-ranging and exciting; the limited time commitment is not only compatible with almost any Tripos subject, it also allows serious musicians a great deal of scope to be proactive in the College’s vibrant and innovative musical life.
We offer an opportunity to escape the stresses of Cambridge term through its visits to major churches throughout Britain; recent visits have included the cathedrals of Bristol, Ely, Lincoln, Canterbury, Exeter, Norwich and Lichfield, and Westminster Abbey. This year the Choir will sing services on trips to Salisbury Cathedral and St George’s Windsor.
Recent foreign tours have included Israel & Palestine, Canada, Portugal, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Germany, Slovenia, France, Ireland, Switzerland and Spain.
The Choir has had the privilege to work regularly with distinguished and exciting guest directors, including, in recent years, Judith Clurman (Juilliard School, New York), Dr Christopher Robinson, Tim Brown and David Lowe. This year there are plans for the Choir to work with musicians from world-renowned ensembles the Sixteen, Magnificat and I Fagiolini.
The Choir also benefits from collaborations with musicians from professional ensembles such as the London Mozart Players, Xacona, members of the Gabrieli Consort and the Cambridge University Collegium Musicum; the Choir also collaborates regularly with eminent guest directors such as Christopher Robinson, Judith Clurman, Tim Brown and David Lowe. There are plans this year for the Choir to work with members of the Sixteen, Magnificat and I Fagiolini, as well as enjoying ongoing collaborations with, and invaluable support from, the College’s Musicians in Residence.
The Director of Chapel Music, Gareth Wilson, is always delighted to meet with prospective candidates for Girton Choir at any time. Singers are welcome to get in touch by email. You are encouraged to come and visit Girton, to see what the College has to offer, and hear the Choir in action.
The Choir sings a full Choral Evensong (Sunday), Compline (Tuesday), and Vespers (Friday) each week, and rehearses for this and other major feasts – such as Eucharists on Ascension Day and Ash Wednesday – just twice a week.
The Director of Chapel Music, Gareth Wilson, is responsible for running the Choir, and for looking after the training and development of the Organ Scholars, as well as the vocal and musical progress of the Choral Scholars.
Despite the limited time commitment, the Choir’s repertoire is extremely varied – ranging from twelfth-century plainchant by Hildegard von Bingen to world premieres by composers including Nico Muhly and Jonathan Rathbone. Rising composers Tim Watts, James Lark, Elizabeth Croad, and Elizabeth Coxton have written several pieces for the Choir, as have both current and recent Organ Scholars. Services can also involve instrumental contributions, including Bach cantatas with a Baroque ensemble, Mozart masses accompanied by a string quartet, and Renaissance polyphony with ensembles of early brass instruments.
- Tuesday: 20:00 rehearsal, for Compline at 21:00 (the Choir divide into smaller groups for this service so as to spread out the workload)
- Wednesday: 18:00 rehearsal (until 19:20)
- Friday: 18:00 rehearsal, for Vespers at 18:45
- Sunday: 16:00 rehearsal, for Evensong at 17:30
Girton Choir has one of the most ambitious international touring schedules of all the Cambridge choirs. Recent destinations have included Israel & Palestine, Portugal, Canada, Japan (twice), Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Girton Choir tours always allow time for sightseeing and cultural visits as well as singing; in Australia, for example, the Choir sang on the set of Neighbours, and on the Choir’s most recent tour to Israel & Palestine, the Choir sang at an orphanage in Bethany and visited a refugee camp in Bethlehem.
The Choir often visits major cathedrals during term time, offering a welcome change of scene during a busy term, and the chance to sing services in some of the country’s greatest buildings. The College contribute's generously to the Choir’s activities; domestic tours cost the members nothing, and international tours are heavily subsidised.
As well as the Choir’s concerts on tour, concerts in College afford the Choir the opportunity to sing ambitious, non-liturgical repertoire, often with orchestral accompaniment. Recent performances have included various Bach cantatas, verse anthems by Purcell and John Blow, Brahms’ A German Requiem, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Mozart’s Requiem and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms.
- A tour to Israel & Palestine accompanied by brass students from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, culminating in a recording of Palestrina and Ingegneri, released on the Toccata Classics label in early 2019.
- A tour to Portugal accompanied by an ensemble of historic brass instruments from the Royal Academy of Music, culminating in a recording of Renaissance polyphony, released on the Toccata Classics label in March 2018 to considerable critical acclaim.
- A tour to Canada accompanied by an ensemble of historic brass instruments from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, culminating in a recording of Lassus’ 5-part Requiem in Toronto, released on the Toccata Classics label in April 2017.
Girton College Choir have produced their fourth album for Toccata Classics, to view/purchase the back catalogue, visit our Girton College shop, using link below: