Bob Chilcott, as conductor, and John Rutter, as producer and engineer, join forces with some talented freelance professional singers in a church in Highgate, London every February. For three days these singers become The Oxford Choir, formed to record Oxford University Press’s latest choral publications so that choral directors worldwide can discover new repertoire. Clothed in thick jumpers and scarves, the choir sings through a few carols to get everyone warmed up. The expertise of the singers means we can record from the very first sing-through, with a few extra takes to find the style which suits each piece and to cover errors and extraneous noises. It may be cold in February but at least we are not troubled by the sound of birdsong and lawn mowers!
The atmosphere is friendly and high-spirited, with energies kept flowing by the provision of cake, sandwiches, and warming tea. The singers enjoy the variation of repertoire, from tricky unaccompanied church anthems, to joyous carols, or lounge-style close harmony songs. In three days, with Bob and John working their magic, the choir producing consistently high results, and the OUP support team putting on the kettle and turning pages (and hitting the odd percussion instrument!), we end up with a couple of great-sounding CDs which are sent around the globe to choral directors, teachers, and singers eager to search for new inspiration for their choral concerts and services.
Download all the music recorded at these sessions completely free on our website, or listen on Soundcloud with the Choral Highlights 2015 and Christmas Choral Highlights 2015 playlists. Discover beautiful new works by John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, Will Todd, Gabriel Jackson, Alan Bullard, Malcolm Archer, Sarah Quartel, Cecilia McDowall, Jonathan Willcocks, Mack Wilberg, Matthew Owens, Howard Helvey, Michael Berkeley, and Pete Churchill.
Featured image: Spire, St Michael’s Church, Highgate Village. Photo by Julian Osley. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.