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Cantate pueri

Three-Day Course
from April 7th - 9th 2008 at Magdalen College School, Oxford
Course Director
Matthew O’Donovan
Eton College

Scholarships to the Bath 1-week RSCM Residential Course were awarded to

Stephen Parkinson (Goring St. Thomas of Canterbury) &
April Reading (Aylesbury St. Mary the Virgin)

Daily programme started at 9.30 am and ended with a service in Magdalen College Chapel at 4.15 pm, and the day ended at 5 pm (5.30 pm on the third day). Some choristers were invited to sing Evensong in Christ Church Cathedral on the following Saturday.

Report by Matthew O'Donovan
Nearly ninety choristers from churches throughout the diocese attended this year's Three-Day Course on 7-9 April, and, as ever, were able to develop an impressively high standard of singing. While some of the repertoire was familiar, much of it was new to them and some was highly demanding. Perhaps the greatest technical accomplishment was the choristers' mastery - with no little vocal agility - of the virtuosic aria "How joyful is my heart" ("Wie freudig ist mein Herz"), the last movement from Bach's vivid Cantata no. 199 for solo soprano, which, by the end of the course, they sang with gusto. From a purely musical perspective the canticle setting, in two parts and for the most part in canon, provided them with a challenge of a different nature. Other composers represented included Johann Schein, G. F. Handel and George Dyson, and there was the usual array of Easter carols and hymns, and three Psalms. Each day ended with a service in the beautiful surroundings of Magdalen College Chapel.

The choristers faced the challenges of the week with great enthusiasm and energy; credit must go to their four inspiring housemasters: Kirsty Anderson, Kathryn Burningham, Kirsty Anderson, Ray Cook and Richard Leach, whose expert coaching and exacting standards contributed much towards the musical success of the course. Particular thanks are due to Richard Leach, who acted as organist for the duration. Head Chorister Jenny Hodgson and her effective team of House Captains kept a close eye on the choristers' processions, which were dignified and decorous. Special thanks are due to Philip Bowcock, the course administrator, for his patience and determination behind-the-scenes; we are also most grateful to Revd Ron Lloyd and Revd John Paton for acting as our chaplains at the services, and to Gillian Cook, who took the role of Matron.

We were pleased to be able to award scholarships to two of the choristers: April Reading (from St Mary the Virgin, Aylesbury) and Stephen Parkinson (St. Thomas, Goring), enabling them to attend an RSCM residential course in August. Additionally, thirty-two of the choristers were invited to sing evensong at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 12th April.


COST: £39

Matthew O'Donovan

holds music degrees from Oxford University and King's College London. He teaches Academic Music and is Director of Lower Chapel Music at Eton College, a post he combines with a variety of freelance work as a choir trainer, singer, organist and writer about music.

Music list for the course

Reports on
Easter Course 2007,
Easter Course 2006 and
Easter Course 2005

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