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Q is for…Queen’s College, Oxford

Today, 17 December, we are in Oxford once again, visiting Queen’s College.

View our complete Advent Calendar here

Queen’s is a little different from many of the college choirs we have featured so far, in that it is a mixed-voice choir. Rather than employing trebles for the top part, the choir has a soprano line of female voices. Twenty of the thirty singers are Choral Scholars who are students of the college. There are also Choral Exhibitioners from other colleges and two professional Lay Clerks.

The choir has earned the reputation of being one of the finest university choirs in the UK and performs, records and broadcasts extensively in the UK and overseas.

Today the choir is getting ready to return to Oxford for the ‘Carols from Queen’s’ concert on Friday and the Boar’s Head procession on Saturday. ‘Carols from Queen’s’ (already sold out) features music by Michael Praetorius, Judith Weir, Cecilia McDowall and others, as well as audience carols.

Queen's College Chapel Choir, Oxford

‘We’ll be singing Toby Young’s The Owl in the Carols from Queen’s concert, and I’m looking forward to setting the owl soaring.’

‘I love the McDowall Now may we singen: it’s so moving.’

On Saturday they will sing the Boar’s Head Carol (which comes from Queen’s) in a ceremony going back to the College’s medieval foundation: a bass soloist leads the procession into the college hall, followed by chefs carrying the boar’s head, and then the choir. Before the ceremony there is a recital of Christmas music in chapel for old members of the College.

It’s been a wonderfully busy month of Christmas music for the choir. The current Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine features a free full-length cover CD of Christmas music recorded by the choir, including Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols.

Queen's College Choir with their CD for BBC Music Magazine

Earlier in December, they performed Messiah with the Academy of Ancient Music, marking the start of an ongoing relationship with the orchestra, and in the same week they gave a concert of Christmas music for Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel and restaurant Le Manoir aux quat’ saisons.

You can listen to Queen’s College Choir here:

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