Dec 11, 2017

The Choir of Gonville and Caius College - Cambridge University, UK


The Choir of Gonville and Caius College is the offspring of the highly musical tradition and history of the University of Cambridge. The University, brimming with musical talent, gave birth to a choir of men and boys at the end of the nineteenth century. It was founded by Charles Wood, a celebrated composer of Anglican Church music of the time.

Wood played a central role in shaping the University’s musical identity. After attaining a teaching position in Gonville and Caius College in 1889 as an organ scholar, he quickly moved on to become a fellow in 1894, as the first Director of Music and Organist. Through several musical events, he revived the musical soul of the College.


The tradition of the choir started by Wood was taken forward by his successor, composer Patrick Hadley. Under Hadley, the choir went on to become an exclusively undergraduate male choir. Peter Tranchell, who succeeded Hadley, took over the choir and made it into a mixed choir in the year 1979. The choir has been headed by Geoffrey Webber since 1989.

The choir has only grown under Webber. Apart from heading the choir, he is also responsible for helping in the establishment of the Master’s degree program in Choral Studies in 2010. He established the Cambridge Organ Scholars’ Forum in 1990. The Forum runs masterclasses and other events for Organ Scholars across the University.


The Choir Today


The Gonville and Caius College Choir is famed as one of the finest choirs in the UK and perhaps in the world. Apart from the services that happen year-round in Cambridge, the choir travels around the globe on a packed schedule, with events including concerts, recordings, broadcasts and tours. Concerts on home ground include prestigious festivals like Aldeburgh Festival and Spitalfields Festival in London. The choir has performed everywhere from the Americas to Asia, from churches to concert halls. The choir has also sung in collaboration with several professional orchestras, like the Philharmonia Baroque of San Francisco (Handel), l’Orchestre National Bordeaux-Aquitaine (Bach, Haydn), the Aurora Orchestra (Schubert) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Holst).

The research projects undertaken by students who form the choir often end up in the form of CDs. They have commissioned and performed music with celebrated artists like Judith Weir, James MacMillan, Richard Causton, Gabriel Jackson and Robin Holloway. The quality and innovative approach of the choir has resulted in international recognition, through excellent reviews. It has been featured as a Critics’ Choice in Gramophone magazine and Choral CD of the month in the BBC Music Magazine.

Broadcasts of Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3 have included a diverse set of programmes, ranging from Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox music to Tallis’s Spem in alium and a service of music composed entirely by students at the College, to South African music broadcast from Johannesburg.


A Ceremony of Carols


A Ceremony of Carols, performed by the choir, is a magical collection of music for upper voices and solo harp by the renowned English composer, conductor and pianist, Benjamin Britten. It acts as a centrepiece for this varied collection of music for Advent and Christmas.

Traditional carols are performed alongside French Romantic favourites by Berlioz and Adam (‘O holy night’) and works by much-loved composers of the time: Carl Rütti, Bob Chilcott and John Rutter. The performance includes seventeen pieces of beauty including, ‘O come, o come, Emmanuel’ (Descant Geoffrey Webber), ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ (Gauntlett/Mann), ‘L'Adieu des bergers’ (Hector Berlioz), ‘Coventry Carol’ (Stuart Macrae), and ‘Christmas Bells’ (Roderick Williams), to name a few.


Hong Kong Performance

This prestigious Choir is coming to Hong Kong in December with their brilliant compositions. A truly mesmerising evening is being brought to you by Christine N Concerts, whose reputation speaks for themselves! The choir will be performing A Ceremony of Carols in the Concert Hall of Hong Kong City Hall, Central on Monday, 18 December at 8pm.

The Hall will be livened up by A Ceremony of Carols, the magical composition by Britten, performed by the extremely talented young men and women of the Choir of Gonville and Caius College.



Come join other Mozaic members to get into the Christmas season and listen to a wonderful evening of Carols.


More Details



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