As the latest issue of BBC Music Magazine puts Sidney on its Cambridge Choir Tour, we profile the Chapel Choir and music in the College.

The Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine celebrates the quality and diversity of choral singing in Cambridge.  It may be something of a surprise to the magazine’s readers - though not to friends of the College - that Sidney Sussex sits alongside its more famous neighbours on the musical map of Cambridge. 

Dr David Skinner, Osborn Director of Music, recalls that when he arrived at Sidney in 2006 there was no high-profile musical tradition at Sidney, but the Chapel Choir has quickly developed its own sound and specialist repertoire.

David highlights Latin Choral Vespers, sung each Wednesday in Full Term.  The service allows the choir to explore some lesser known renaissance music, David’s own particular specialism.  He has recently signed up with the music publishers Edition Peters to edit a new early music catalogue, and it is clear that the choir has a particular affinity with this music.  With their Thomas Tomkins CD the choir became the first Oxbridge choir to be voted as Editor’s Choice and CD of the Month in the magazine Gramophone.  The choir’s new CD, a recording of Thomas Weelkes with the instrumental group Fretwork, will be released in the spring.

But it is not only early music that features at Sidney. The contemporary composer and conductor Eric Whitacre was recently appointed as our Composer-in-Residence, a post which will see Eric involved in the musical life of the College and Cambridge for another five years. Eric has written especially for the Choir and it is clear in their collaborations that they have found common inspiration. In an interview with James Naughtie, also in the Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine, Whitacre talks about being drawn into and by the seasonal flow of Chapel services.

In the final week of term the Choir will sing at two special Carol Services for Advent and Christmas before heading to Austria to sing in Tanzenburg on 4 December.

You can follow the Choir on Twitter and Facebook. The Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine is now on sale.

This is an archived news story, first posted in 2011.

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