Monday 14 March 2022

Passiontide at Merton

The Dobson organ at Merton College Chapel
The Dobson organ at Merton College Chapel

After two year break, the Passiontide Festival is back at Merton College, Oxford, encompassing not only performances in Merton College Chapel from Benjamin Nicholas and the choir of Merton College, but visits from a variety of musicians and a large scale concert to open. The weekend of events begins on Friday 8 April 2022 with Mozart's Mass in C minor performed in the Sheldonian Theatre with Benjamin Nicholas conducting Merton College Choir, Merton College Girl Choristers and Florilegium with soloists Rowan Pierce (soprano), Katie Bray (mezzo-soprano), James Oxley (tenor) and Giles Underwood (bass).

Other events over the weekend of 9 and 10 April 2022 include two recitals on the mechanical action Dobson organ (built in 2014) in the chapel, Margaret Philips performing an all-Bach programme and Owen Chan in Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm, plus the Gesualdo Six in a programme mixing Tallis, Byrd, Gesualdo and Victoria with Judith Bingham and Cheryl Frances Hoad, and services of Evensong, Compline and Eucharist with music from the choir of Merton College including Cheryl Frances-Hoad's The Merton Responses (one of several new works arising from her position as Merton’s visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts, see my interview) and RVW's Mass in G minor.

The festival ends with Benjamin Nicholas conducting the choir, with organist Stephen Farr, in a programme that pairs music by Byrd, Purcell and Poulenc with James MacMillan's Miserere and the world premieres of two works by Francis Grier.

The Passiontide festival was launched at Merton College in 2010, after the the re-forming of the choral foundation in 2008, and the same year Benjamin Nicholas was appointed organist and director of music. The choir currently sings services on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday with the girl choristers (drawn from a range of ten local schools) singing Evensong Wednesday.

Download the Passiontide at Merton Brochure [PDF], further information from the Passiontide page on Merton College website.

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