The Choirs and Music of St Mary's Church, Warwick

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Music at St Mary's

Since the first choir was founded in 1123, music has filled this magnificent mediaeval church of St Mary, Warwick.  Choral singing is one of Britain’s richest traditions and a vibrant, living heritage which is often the preserve of our great cathedrals.  The fine choirs of this church are precious; they transform and inspire worship and enrich the community of Warwick.

The English choral tradition remains central to music at St Mary’s Church and today’s flourishing choirs enjoy an international reputation.

St Mary’s Church is a popular venue for a range of high quality concerts and other events, welcoming performers from across the UK and the world.

The Gentlemen of the Choir

The Gentlemen are all experienced musicians and are committed unpaid volunteers. Most are in full-time occupation, ranging from teaching and social work to positions in the computer and motor industries. Teenagers, who have continued to sing in the “back row” following service in the treble line, sing alongside senior citizens, and the social life of the Choir is all the healthier for the broad range of experience brought to it.

St Mary’s Scholars

St Mary’s Scholars is an auditioned adult chamber choir and was formed in 1998 to sing the services in the Church when the other choirs are on holiday. However, it has gone from strength to strength and now performs regularly in venues further afield. The busy schedule of tours and concerts has included an authentic performance – using period instruments – of Handel’s Messiah in collaboration with Armonico Tributo Baroque Orchestra and some of the country’s finest soloists.

They have twice been to Paris, where they were invited to sing for High Mass at Notre-Dame. Their repertoire has included works such as Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Walton’s The Twelve, and Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, and they have taken part in public performances of several commissioned new works. The Scholars have also raised thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Relief.

For more information on St Mary’s Scholars or on how to join, please contact the Assistant Director of Music:

Mark Swinton, Assistant Director of Music
+44 (0)1926 403940 (option 3)
adofm@stmaryswarwick.org.uk

Collegium

Collegium was formed by Simon Lole, then Director of Music for St Mary’s, in 1986. After continuing to develop under the leadership of subsequent Directors of Music, it is now conducted by Oliver Hancock.

The choir usually gives three main concerts a year in St Mary’s Church, and also occasionally takes part in services and gives performances in Warwick and elsewhere. It has engaged in a variety of other activities, including visits to Verden, Warwick’s twin town in Germany, participating in a BBC ‘Top Ten Hymns’ broadcast from Birmingham Town Hall, and also contributing to a recording of Christmas music produced by the St Mary’s Choirs. Collegium participated in a BBC ‘Songs of Praise’ broadcast from St Mary’s Church, and formed part of the ‘Murallennium’ choral celebration of the millennium in Warwick Castle.

Collegium has joined with other local choirs and orchestras, presenting Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Berlioz’s Messe Solennelle, Philip Wilby’s A Passion for our Times, and Handel’s Messiah (including two joint performances with St Katharine’s Church, Braunschweig, Germany) and Alexander’s Feast. More recently, Collegium joined the Choeur Josquin des Pres of Villebon-sur-Yvette, near Paris, for a performance of Finlandia and Fauré’s Requiem.

If you are interested in joining, please email the Chairman:

Mary Clark, Collegium Committee Chairman
maryclark@john-lewis.com