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Benjamin Nicholas brings considerable experience to this new role, having worked with numerous choirs and orchestras including the City of London Sinfonia, BBC Singers, Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, CBSO, The Trondheim Soloists and The Holst Singers in works such as Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Verdi’s Requiem, Holst’s Savitri and Berlioz’s Te Deum.

Benjamin Nicholas appointed as Principal Conductor

The Oxford Bach Choir is delighted to announce that it has appointed Benjamin Nicholas, Director of Music, Merton College, Oxford as their Principal Conductor with effect from October 2018.

Ben has worked with the choir several times in the past, most recently last term when he rehearsed and conducted them in an exhilarating performance of Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Peter Gilliver, Chairman of the Oxford Bach Choir said, “I’m delighted that the Oxford Bach Choir has appointed Ben Nicholas as its new Principal Conductor. He is a fantastic musician, who brings both passion and expertise to the music he conducts; the Choir already has first-hand experience of what an enormous pleasure he is to work with, and the marvellous music-making that he can produce with us.”

Of his appointment, Benjamin says “I am thrilled to have been appointed Principal Conductor of the Oxford Bach Choir. I enjoyed working with them last year and look forward to my appointment starting in the autumn. I have long been aware of the important role the choir plays in Oxford’s musical life and it is very exciting to be part of the choir’s future.”

Benjamin was a chorister in the Choir of Norwich Cathedral before holding organ scholarships at Lincoln College, Oxford and St Paul’s Cathedral. As an undergraduate he was Conductor of The Oxford Chamber Choir, and in 2000 held the post of Director of Music of St Luke’s Church, Chelsea.

At the age of twenty-three he became Director of the choir of men and boys at Tewkesbury Abbey where he remained until 2012. From 2011-2016 he served the Edington Music Festival, firstly as conductor of the Schola and then as Festival Director.

As Director of Music of Merton College, Oxford, Ben’s work with the choir has been acclaimed through recordings on the Delphian label and broadcasts on the BBC, the most recent of which was a broadcast on Radio 3 from St Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican.

He has directed the choir on tour in the USA, Sweden, Italy and France, and in world premieres of music by Birtwistle, Chilcott, Dove, Jackson, MacMillan, Tabakova and Weir. As an organist, he has appeared with The Tallis Scholars, and his most recent recording, of Elgar’s organ works, was described by The Sunday Times as ‘a musical achievement… captivating”.

2018 Concerts with Gloucester Choral Society – by invitation

We are delighted to have been invited by Gloucester Choral Society to join them in the performance of two concerts in May 2018 as part of the Parry and his Pupils Festival, to mark the centenary of Parry’s death in 1918.

Parry was born and raised in Gloucester and was, at the time of his death, President of Gloucester Choral Society. Both performances are with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Adrian Partington.

The concerts feature Parry’s I was glad, originally written for the coronation of King Edward VII, Ode on the Nativity and Jerusalem, but also celebrate Parry’s legacy through the works of two other great British composers: the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Parry’s former pupil, Vaughan Williams and (only in the Royal Festival Hall concert) Elgar’s Cello Concerto, who learnt much of his craft from studying articles Parry wrote for Grove’s Dictionary of Music. The Gloucester concert also includes another work by one of Parry’s former pupils – Holst’s Hymn of Jesus.

But, you might ask, what connection has OBC with GCS or Parry, apart from the fact that many of us have friends in both choirs? Well, GCS’s conductor, Adrian Partington, who is Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral, has not only been conductor of GCS for almost 10 years, but he has had a long association with OBC for even longer. Over 25 years, he has been both accompanist at rehearsals, played the piano or organ at concerts and events, and was also our Associate Conductor before taking the post at Gloucester Cathedral.

Oxford Bach Choir certainly had a number of connections with Parry during his lifetime. In 1948, we commemorated the centenary of Parry’s birth as follows:

In our March 1948 concert we performed; Job, Blest Pair of Sirens and Jerusalem

  • In May 1948 we gave the world premiere of Vaughan Williams’ Prayer to the Father of Heaven, written especially in Parry’s memory for the occasion. In addition, the “Cantata Section” of the choir performed some of Parry’s shorter choral works, at a concert in Exeter College Chapel.
  • We have also sung Blest Pair of Sirens and the Songs of Farewell a number of times since the 1940s.

With all these connections, we are all looking forward immensely to this collaboration, and we hope that this will be the start of many future joint projects.

Dates and Tickets

5 May

Gloucester Cathedral

10 May

The Royal Festival Hall

Hubert Parry and Oxford Bach Choir

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry was Professor of Music at Oxford from 1899-1908.

Oxford Bach Choir collaborated with him on several occasions:

  • February 1905, Parry conducted Oxford Bach Choir in a performance ofBlest Pair of Sirens.
  • December 1908, the choir took part in a performance of Parry’s The Glories of our Blood and State and Job
  • June 1917, Oxford Bach Choir gave the world premiere of one of the Songs of Farewell; “Lord, let me know mine end” in the presence of Parry, conducted by our then conductor, Hugh Allen
  • 1919, Oxford Bach Choir took part in the first performance of the complete cycle of Parry’s Songs of Farewell.

Concerts with Gloucester Choral Society

We are delighted to have been invited by Gloucester Choral Society (GCS) to join them in the performance of two concerts in May 2018 as part of the Parry and his Pupils Festival, to mark the centenary of Parry’s death in 1918.

These concerts will be on 5 May 2018 in Gloucester Cathedral and on 10 May 2018 at the Royal Festival Hall, both with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Adrian Partington. Parry was born and raised in Gloucester and was, at the time of his death, President of Gloucester Choral Society.

The concerts feature Parry’s I was glad, originally written for the coronation of King Edward VII, Ode on the Nativity and Jerusalem, but also celebrate Parry’s legacy through the works of two other great British composers: the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Parry’s former pupil, Vaughan Williams and (only in the Royal Festival Hall concert) Elgar’s Cello Concerto, who learnt much of his craft from studying articles Parry wrote for Grove’s Dictionary of Music. The Gloucester concert also includes another work by one of Parry’s former pupils – Holst’s Hymn of Jesus.

But, you might ask, what connection has OBC with GCS or Parry, apart from the fact that many of us have friends in both choirs? Well, GCS’s conductor, Adrian Partington, who is Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral, has not only been conductor of GCS for almost 10 years, but he has had a long association with OBC for even longer. Over 25 years, he has been both accompanist at rehearsals, played the piano or organ at concerts and events, and was also our Associate Conductor before taking the post at Gloucester Cathedral.

Oxford Bach Choir certainly had a number of connections with Parry during his lifetime. In 1948, we commemorated the centenary of Parry’s birth as follows:

  • In our March 1948 concert , we performed Job, Blest Pair of Sirens and Jerusalem
  • In May 1948 we gave the world premiere of Vaughan Williams’ Prayer to the Father of Heaven, written especially in Parry’s memory for the occasion. In addition, the “Cantata Section” of the choir performed some of Parry’s shorter choral works, at a concert in Exeter College Chapel.
  • We have also sung Blest Pair of Sirens and the Songs of Farewell a number of times since the 1940s.

With all these connections, we are all looking forward immensely to this collaboration, and we hope that this will be the start of many future joint projects.

Jonathan Dove – For An Unknown Soldier; An Airmail Letter from Mozart

November 2016

Oxford Bach Choir took part in the recording of “For an Unknown Soldier”. We are delighted to announce that the recording has now been released (as of 4 November 2016) on Signum Records and has already been featured on Radio 3.

Buy the CD via easyfundraising and support OBC.