Join the Oxford Bach Choir!

I am really looking forward to joining the OBC. The audition was so much fun and Ben created such a nice atmosphere.”

“We have loved being part of the choir, and have many wonderful memories of singing beautiful music in stunning venues across Oxford with you all.”

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Seeking New Choir Members

Following our two sell-out concerts this term, we are now recruiting for the start of 2023. There are vacancies in all voice parts, but tenors and basses would be particularly welcome. Auditions, which are very informal, will be held in January 2023 with our Director of Music and Conductor, Benjamin Nicholas in central Oxford.

Membership for all full-time students is free!

If you would like further information or to arrange an audition, please send a note our Membership Secretary, Pia,  at any time, membership@oxfordbachchoir.org.

The following section should give you what you need to know about singing with us. See also the FAQs.

The Choir

The Oxford Bach Choir is a large mixed voice choir with a great choral tradition.  If you are thinking of singing with a choir in Oxford, we promise a wonderfully rewarding experience.  We are a friendly and committed group of up to 150 singers, who rehearse, mainly, during Oxford university terms, under the direction of Benjamin Nicholas, Director of Music at Merton College.

As a member of the Oxford Bach Choir, you would perform in one of the most respected amateur choirs in the country.  You would meet like-minded people who share an interest in music and experience the thrill of performing with international, professional orchestras and soloists.  Our concerts, including our popular annual carol concert, usually take place in Oxford’s famous Sheldonian Theatre, and in other venues around Oxford.

 

2023 programme

In March we will perform Beethoven’s magnificent Missa Solemnis in the Sheldonian Theatre, with the London Mozart Players.  Then in June we perform in SJE Arts Centre a programme of J.S. Bach’s  Komm, Jesu, Komm, Scarlatti’s  Stabat Mater and Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G.  

In early December 2023, for the first concert in the 2023-24 Season, we return to the Sheldonian Theatre to perform two 20th century masterpieces, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Weill’s Carmina Burana.  The year finishes in traditional fashion with our annual Carols for All.  All concerts will be conducted by Benjamin Nicholas.

 Rehearsals

Rehearsals take place on Monday evenings in central Oxford, with an additional rehearsal during the week before the concert and one on a Saturday morning mid- term.  During Covid-19 restrictions, the choir switched to rehearsing online. Last season rehearsals took place with full Covid-19 risk assessments and Covid-secure protocols in place.

Auditions

Admission to the choir is through a personal audition with Benjamin Nicholas.  The audition is informal, with the sole aim of recruiting accomplished singers, and those with potential, to join existing choir members. Your audition would last around 10 minutes and consist of singing a short, prepared piece of your choice, some scales or arpeggios, and sight-reading from a vocal score (further details in FAQ).

Get in touch!

If you are interested in joining the Oxford Bach Choir, we would love to hear from you!

Please email Pia at membership@oxfordbachchoir.org with your name, a contact number, a couple of lines about your musical experience, and if relevant, the voice part you have sung before (soprano 1/2, alto 1/2, tenor 1/2, bass 1/2) and we will get in touch with you.

Currently, there are no membership fees for full-time students.

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Questions & Answers (the FAQs)

Who sings in the OBC?

We are a choir of around 150 people from all walks of life, many from Oxfordshire but some travelling from further afield.  Undergraduates and graduates, people from business, the public sector, professionals, visiting academics, young and old, make up the choir.

When do we rehearse?

Rehearsals generally take place over nine weeks of the university term. These are held once a week on a Monday evening from 7.30 to 9.30pm. There is an additional mid-term rehearsal held on a Saturday morning, and one on the Thursday or Friday prior to the concert.

Where do we rehearse?

In the University Catholic Chaplaincy in Rose Place, St Aldate’s, OX1 1RD

What is the commitment?

There are three main performances a year in December, March and June. In general, the expectation is that members will commit to all three concerts. There is also a family Carol Concert at Christmas, a lively, participatory event in which we hope most members will be able to sing.

Rehearsal attendance is important to maintain the high standard required to sing with professional soloists and orchestras.

Where are the concerts held?

Our main venue is the Sheldonian Theatre www.sheldonian.ox.ac.uk in central Oxford, but we also hold concerts in St John the Evangelist Church, Iffley www.sje-oxford.org,  and Oxford Town Hall www.oxfordtownhall.co.uk. In recent years we have also sung in London’s Royal Festival Hall and in Gloucester Cathedral.

How do I join?

Membership is by audition. If you would like to apply, please email your details (‘Get in Touch’ section, above) to Pia, Membership Secretary, membership@oxfordbachchoir.org, and we will get in touch with you.

What happens at the audition?

 Auditions are taken by Benjamin Nicholas, the Choir’s Music Director and are very informal. They last no more than ten minutes and consist of singing a short, prepared piece of your own choice, some scales or arpeggios, and some basic sight-reading from a vocal score. If you are unsure what to sing, bring something you know and are comfortable singing, e.g., an extract from a choral work (Fauré Requiem is a popular choice), a short aria, song, or a hymn.

When are auditions held?

We hold rounds of auditions three times a year before and at the beginning of each term. Usually the first rehearsal of term is also an open rehearsal, when prospective members are able to try out the Choir.

Auditions for the 2023 season will be held from 11th January and the first rehearsal is on Monday 16th January. Please contact Pia, the membership secretary for specific times and dates.

How good do I need to be?

Both polished singers and beginners showing potential, are very welcome at audition. You do need to be able to read music. Auditions are very informal and friendly, designed to allow you to show your potential. Many people worry about the sight-reading, but this will be of a standard type, and you will get help from the piano, and not be left to flounder.

Can I try out to see if this is for me?

Yes, please do! You are welcome to come along to any of our rehearsals except for those closest to the concert. Contact Pia, membership@oxfordbachchoir.org, to arrange this.

What are the membership fees?

The membership fee for the spring and summer terms of 2023 is £219, with a discounted rate of £109.50 for those aged under 30. Full-time students currently benefit from free membership.

A discount rate may be offered if there is difficulty paying the full amount.

Subscription rates for 2023-24 season, from September, have not yet been set.

What about the social side of the choir?

Choirs are a great way to meet like-minded people and each rehearsal is followed by an informal get together in a nearby pub. We have social events through the year, and we also participate in Oxford University’s open weekend for alumni.

Can I help?

Most definitely. In any way, however small. If you have any skills that might be useful, please speak to one of the Trustees when you join.

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 Questions & Answers for Students

How many student members are there?

We are very keen to audition students and currently we have over 20 student members singing in the choir.

How much does it cost?

Membership is currently free for students.

What about vocal scores?

The choir librarian organises the purchase and hire of scores. There is no hire charge for students.

Can I come and try a rehearsal?

Yes! You will be welcome to try out any of our rehearsals in the earlier part of each term. Contact Pia, the membership secretary (membership@oxfordbachchoir.org) in advance, so that she can arrange music and space for you.

Is the performance in term time?

Rehearsals and concerts are held within the university term, except for the Carol concert, which takes place closer to Christmas.

How easy is it to get to the rehearsal and concert venues?

All our venues are in central Oxford, with the exception of St John the Evangelist Church, which is a part way along the Iffley Road.

Can I miss any rehearsals?

Yes, but all choir members are expected to attend most rehearsals, so that we can maintain a high standard for public performance.

How good do I have to be to audition?

Both polished singers and beginners showing potential, are very welcome at audition. You do need to be able to read music. Auditions are very informal and friendly, designed to allow you to show your potential. Many people worry about the sight-reading, but this is quite standard, and you will get help from the piano, and not be left to flounder.

Are there any social activities?

Choir members tend to gather at a pub after rehearsals on Mondays. There is usually also a post-concert party.

Our student reps

We have two great student reps, Becky and Caroline, who will help with any queries as well as organise social activities.

More information…

For more information about joining Oxford Bach Choir please contact Pia, our Membership Secretary at membership@oxfordbachchoir.org

 

 

Benjamin Nicholas