During my time in Cambridge I sang with two different chapel choirs, and I’ve recently been reminded of both.
First was a memorial concert near Bath to mark 20 years since the death of William Walls, for whom I sang for a year when he was organ scholar of Christ’s College. During that year I came across a lot of the church music repertoire for the first time, especially canticle settings, of which I’d done very few until then. He was an enthusiast especially for the music of Samuel Sebastian Wesley (I sang on a recording Christ’s choir made which was believed to be the first complete recording of the service in E), and I was among a group of his friends and relatives who sang Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, as well as The Silver Swan by Gibbons.
The following weekend I was invited to Cambridge to join the choir of my College, Corpus. The main chapel organ, paid for from a generous bequest, is too large and loud for the rather small space it is in, and a new chamber organ was being dedicated to offer a gentle alternative. A few former members came back to sing Howells’ Coll Reg Communion setting in the morning, and rather more to do Dyson in D and Stainer’s I Saw the Lord at evensong. We also had tea on the Master’s lawn and a short demonstration recital of the new organ thrown in. Still Pimm’s after Evensong in summer, though not the legendary ‘choir strength’ Pimm’s of my day, the result of the serving staff leaving us to mix our own drinks. It was a shame no one else from my time was there, and if another reunion is organised (as is quite likely) I will try to round up a few contemporaries. It was good though to see the two kneelers I made still going strong. And somewhere along the way I volunteered to do a history of the choir, at least as far back as my student days, probably in the form of a timeline.