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Image of A group of choir members wearing deep red choir robes, walking across a lawn
Credit: Nick Rutter

Choir launches new competition for young composers

The Choir of Jesus College has launched a new annual competition for young composers, offering a prize of £500 and a premiere performance by the Choir.

Open to anybody born on or after 1st January 1995, entrants should submit unperformed, original pieces which will be judged by the College’s Director of Music, Richard Pinel, and composer and arranger Grayston Ives.

The annual prize has been created thanks to the generosity of former Choral Scholar Max Hadfield. He said: “We hope young musicians will be inspired by our competition to create new special spiritual works for the Jesus College’s Choir, and have the thrill of hearing them performed in our lovely Chapel to our own high standards."

Richard Pinel said: “Jesus College Choir continues a choral tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Our Chapel is beautiful and ancient and much of the repertoire that we enjoy comes from times past. However, this is a living tradition and it is equally important to champion new music. Therefore I am delighted to be able to launch this initiative, and am extremely grateful to Max Hadfield for his support.”


There is a prize of £500, and this year a first performance at an Evensong in Easter Term 2020 by the College Choir.


  1. This year composers are required to set the text (below) by St John Henry Newman.
  2. The work should be scored for an SATB choir (with divisi up to SSAATTBB permitted, bearing in mind the rehearsal time available to a busy collegiate choir), either a capella or with organ accompaniment.
  3. The piece should last for no more than 6 minutes, when taken at the metronome mark at the head of the score.

Set text

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shades lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done; then Lord, in thy mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.


  1. The score, which must be printed, should contain no identifying marks of the composer. It should be accompanied by a sealed envelope containing the identity, and contact details, of the composer.
  2. The competition is open to anybody born on or after 1st January 1995.
  3. Applications should be sent by post to Ms Alice Kane, Jesus College, Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BL.
  4. The envelope should be marked ‘Composition Competition’.
  5. The deadline for submissions is Monday 2nd March and the winner will be notified by Monday 30th March.

Terms and conditions

  1. Submitted pieces should be as yet unperformed and be the original work of the composer.
  2. The compositions will be judged by a panel including Richard Pinel (Director of Music, Jesus College) and Grayston Ives.
  3. The panel reserve the right to not award any prize and their decision is final in all matters.
  4. Copyright of the music remain with the composer on the following conditions:
    1. Jesus College Choir retain the right of first performance of the winning entry until July 31st 2020
    2. Jesus College Choir retain the right of first recording of the winning entry until July 31st 2025
  5. Composers may only submit one entry.
  6. There is no entry fee.
  7. Entries are sent at the composers’ own risk, and we cannot return any material submitted.
  • Professor Clare Chambers influences Select Committee report on body image


    Evidence from Professor Clare Chambers, Fellow in Philosophy at Jesus, has influenced the UK Government’s Women and Equalities Committee report on body image.

    The report by the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) sets out recommendations to tackle the harms of poor body image and to increase the number of people in the UK who view their appearance positively.

    It cites oral evidence from Professor Chambers, speaking in her role as a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. In its evidence, the Council urged the WEC to consider how equality legislation – specifically the Equality Act 2010 – could be used to support the inquiry’s aims.

    Reflecting on the range of harmful impacts stemming from negative body image, and the high prevalence of negative body image, Professor Chambers remarked that “body image is both a public health issue and an issue of equality and discrimination”.

    Giving oral evidence, Professor Chambers noted that norms of appearance often reinforce discrimination and inequality based on protected characteristics such as sex, race, and disability. She stated, “Since all these characteristics are protected under the Equality Act, I do think there should be scope for using the existing legislation, the full range of powers under that Act, to enforce, advise and guide on challenging appearance-based discrimination wherever it occurs.” 

    The WEC subsequently recommended that the EHRC should produce guidance for individuals seeking to use the existing Equality Act legislation to challenge appearance-based discrimination. It stated that this work should be completed within three months.

    In addition to equality legislation, the Council’s evidence also cast a spotlight on the role of social media in addressing body image concerns. It suggested that as a first step in tackling body image pressures, social media companies should fund research so they can understand the impact their platforms are having. In its evidence, the Council grounded this recommendation in the fact that social media companies have a duty of care to their users. This duty means they should investigate positive and innovative ways of promoting healthy body image and protecting their users from body-image-related harm.

    Drawing on this evidence, the WEC urged the Government to work closely with social media companies and academics to ensure that research on social media use and body image is up-to-date, evidence-based, and sufficiently funded.

    The Government is required to respond to these recommendations, and others set out in the WEC’s wide-ranging report. The deadline for the Government’s response is 9 June 2021.

    This is an edited version of an article originally published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. It is reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    Display date: 
    Monday, April 19, 2021 (All day)
  • DNA Family Secrets

    Stacey and Turi

    Professor Turi King (1993) is best known for her work in "cracking one of the biggest forensic DNA cases in history" during the exhumation and reburial of Richard III of England.

    Professor King is Professor of Public Engagement and Genetics at the University of Leicester. She can currently be seen on BBC Two’s DNA Family Secrets, which began airing on the BBC in March 2021. The programme is presented by Stacey Dooley and Professor King, and uses the latest DNA technology to solve family mysteries around ancestry, missing relatives and genetic disease.

    The series follows people across the UK who want to unlock the mysteries hidden in their genetic code. Each episode focuses on three people: two of these trying to find out about their family history or ancestry and another who is seeking to find answers about a genetic disease in the family. Stacey and Professor King work with a large team of genealogists, social workers, and doctors to reveal unknown ancestry, find missing relatives and detect genetic disease before it’s too late. You can watch DNA Family Secrets on BBC iPlayer.

    The programme has received positive reviews both on social media and in print. Stuart Jeffries of The Guardian praised the series as “a touching, timely portrait of mixed-race Britain”, stating that the “show doesn’t need celebrities to gild its drama”. Sara Wallis of The Mirror gave it a positive review, writing that “it makes for gripping TV”, “emotional, with fascinating DNA facts” with results delivered by King with “wonderful empathy”. Jane Rackham of the Radio Times said the series has “an interesting twist that taps into our fascination with our past”.

    Recently, Professor King featured on BBC Radio 4’s The Reunion in a programme entitled 'Finding Richard III'. Professor King and her colleagues discussed the painstaking process of identifying the remains and matching the DNA of the last Plantagenet king. You can listen to the broadcast here.

    Display date: 
    Friday, April 16, 2021 - 15:00
  • JCBC Head Coach achieves highest coaching qualification


    Head Coach and Boathouse Manager, Jonathan Conder, has completed British Rowing’s Level Four ‘Advanced Coach’ coaching qualification.

    The award, undertaken with the support of Jesus College, took two years to complete and included a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Sports Coaching. Currently less than 20 coaches in the UK have achieved this highest level of rowing coaching qualification.

    Jonathan joined Jesus College four years ago, having previously worked for the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge. Before coaching Jesus College Boat Club, he coached Cambridge University Women's Boat Club.

    For his Postgraduate Diploma research, Jonathan examined the efficacy of traditional coaching compared with athlete self-coaching. He also worked with athletes from Cambridge University Boat Club and Jesus College to analyse the distribution of forces between the footplate and oar handle during the rowing stroke.

    Jonathan said: “Having been a rowing coach and a coach educator for many years, I naturally wanted to achieve the highest level of coaching qualification. I had a number of thoughts and ideas that I wanted to explore in detail. Undertaking the L4/PgDip and then the Masters has provided me with a framework for that exploration. I have also been fortunate in that doing this has given me something useful to do during lockdown and furlough! Jesus College Boat Club, with its long history and association with legendary coach Steve Fairbain, should (I think) be thinking deeply and imaginatively about its rowing.

    As for what I’ve learned, I think the most important thing has been that you can teach an old dog new tricks! A good coach should be open to new thinking and methods, and prepared to accept the limitations of what they know. As Steve Fairbairn said ‘...the important thing in reading about rowing is not to swallow everything as though it were the gospel truth.’”

    Jonathan is now working on his Masters (MSc) in Professional Practice in Sports Coaching, which he aims to complete in the summer of 2021. His research will investigate whether an ecological dynamics/constraints-led approach affords a viable pedagogical approach to coaching rowing athletes.

    Display date: 
    Friday, April 16, 2021 (All day)
  • SolidariTee: Jesus students stand with refugees


    Undergraduate students Jess Molyneux (2018), Karris McGonigle (2019) and Romane Balcomb Nevill (2019) volunteer with the student-led charity SolidariTee, which supports legal aid for refugees and asylum seekers. 

    We spoke to them about what their roles involve, the ways in which people can support SolidariTee, and how the charity has adapted to virtual fundraising.

    What is SolidariTee, and how did it come about?

    Jess: SolidariTee was founded in Cambridge in 2017 by first-year student Tiara Sahar Ataii, who started off selling t-shirts on the back of her bike! It’s since grown to include regional teams at 62 universities in 10 countries, with a total of around 800 volunteers. Tiara gave a TED talk in 2019 on the importance of legal aid, and her experience setting up SolidariTee.

    We raise funds to provide grants to NGOs who work on legal aid for refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. We do this by selling our unique SolidariTees, which are sustainably manufactured, 100% organic and vegan, and cost £10-12. We update our designs, which are based on art by refugees and asylum seekers, every year. The 2020 design is the product of a community art project at a centre called Elpida Home, on one of the Greek islands.

    We also host awareness and fundraising events throughout the year, locally and nationally. Finally, we work on social media to dispel harmful narratives around the refugee ‘crisis’, and to provide information about global refugee issues. 

    How did you become involved?

    Jess: I joined as a rep in 2019 after seeing Cambridge reps selling SolidariTees at the Guilty Feminist Live Tour. Last June, I moved to the Central Team.

    Karris: I became aware of SolidariTee through Jess in my first year, and joined as a rep in my second year. 

    Romane: I became involved with SolidariTee as a rep in 2020, after hearing about the charity through Jess on Facebook. 

    What’s your role with SolidariTee?

    Jess: I’m a Regional Focal Point on Team SolidariTee, the management and recruitment branch of the organisation. I manage reps and head reps at seven UK universities, as well as speaking about SolidariTee at regional events and delivering sales workshops.

    Karris: I’m a Regional Rep, which involves selling t-shirts and helping with rep events. I also promote SolidariTee’s work and legal aid for refugees and asylum seekers where I can. At this year’s SolidariTee conference, I gave a presentation on refugee education. 

    Romane: As a rep, I've also helped to fundraise by selling t-shirts and taking part in events such as a sponsored run for SolidariTee’s Week of Action. I also try to raise awareness of the importance of legal aid for refugees and asylum seekers through social media posts. 

    How can people get involved or donate?

    Jess: There are a few different ways to contribute financially! You can get in touch with any of us to purchase a t-shirt. If a Cambridge rep doesn’t have your size, you can head to our online shop, which also has previous years’ designs, SolidariSweaters, tote bags, greetings cards, and wall posters. (It would be great if you could use the referral code Cambridge/21 at the checkout!)

    Alternatively, you can donate directly or purchase a virtual gift on our website. One of our Sheffield reps makes handmade earrings, or you can buy animal watercolour paintings by an artist who supports us - all the proceeds go to SolidariTee! We also have partnerships with NEMI Teas and Jericho Coffee Traders, so we’ll get 15% of profits if you use the codes SOLIDARITEE15 (for Nemi) and JCTXSOLIDARITEE (for JCT) at the checkout. 

    Like our national Facebook page and follow our Instagram for updates and helpful infographics about global refugee and asylum seeker issues and information on the NGOs we support. You can also listen to our podcast, Right to Refuge, for more in-depth discussions of the language, legal frameworks, and media narratives surrounding asylum.

    If you’re interested in volunteering with SolidariTee, keep an eye out for applications for our Central Team, which will be advertised on our social media channels this spring/summer. Head Rep applications will open in summer, and Regional Rep applications (for next academic year) towards September. There’s more information about recruitment on our website.

    We’re currently working on a response to the UK Government’s worrying ‘New Plan for Immigration’, which proposes changes to Britain’s asylum system which are not only incredibly harmful for refugees and asylum seekers, but also breach international law. We’ll need as much public support as possible for this campaign, so do stay up to date with our social media channels to be part of it.

    Karris: SolidariTee’s central and regional teams host a huge number of different events that anyone can join, from quizzes to cook-alongs to yoga sessions to panel discussions and more. There’s also a new SolidariTee Cambridge Facebook page, where you can stay up to date with the Cambridge team and any events.

    What kinds of events will you be organising this year?

    Jess: Navigating a pandemic has definitely changed the way SolidariTee does events, but we hosted our inaugural SolidariTee (virtual) conference this February, and are planning another one-day conference in Refugee Week in June. The outreach branch of the Central Team is also starting a series of weekly online speaker events.

    This year, individual team members have had more opportunity and responsibility to organise their own ‘rep initiative’ event. We’ve seen so much creativity from regional teams, from movie nights, cookery classes, and yoga sessions to panel events, Zoom quizzes, and Instagram takeovers. Most regional teams take a step back from events during the exam period to focus on t-shirt sales, but we have a few more bake sales, panel events, and fitness fundraisers lined up! 

    Why should people support SolidariTee, in one sentence?

    Jess: SolidariTee isn’t just good at raising funds for an incredibly important, sustainable form of aid which recognises the autonomy and humanity of its beneficiaries; it’s committed to leading the way on all fronts, from environmentally-conscious production to inclusivity, and empowering students to challenge the media narratives which have produced Europe’s crisis of compassion.

    Karris: SolidariTee is a student-run charity (started in Cambridge!) whose only agenda is supporting refugees and asylum seekers in as many ways as they can, primarily fundraising for legal aid, but also working on outreach and awareness to drive foundational, long-term change.

    Romane: SolidariTee plays an important role in both helping refugees and asylum seekers to access legal aid, and in dispelling harmful myths promoted by the media. 

    Display date: 
    Wednesday, April 14, 2021 (All day)
  • Dr Harry McCarthy wins J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize


    College Fellow, Dr Harry R. McCarthy, is the first UK scholar to be awarded the J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize by the Shakespeare Association of America (SAA).

    Harry’s prizewinning dissertation is titled Boy Actors on the Early Modern English Stage: Performance, Physicality, and the Work of Play. We spoke to him about what sparked his interest in this topic, Shakespeare studies in the UK and US, and what he plans to do next.

    What’s the focus of your dissertation?

    It’s about the boy performers (aged from pre-adolescence to their early twenties) who performed all the female roles, and a great deal of male ones, on English stages in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The dissertation has a particular focus on the bodily skills these boys brought to often highly complex roles. It considers how these performers were trained, employed, and celebrated by the burgeoning theatre industry of early modern London.

    How did you first become interested in this aspect of Shakespearean performance?

    That goes right back to my undergraduate days. I’ll never forget the moment in a first-year Shakespeare lecture at the University of Exeter when the professor, Pascale Aebischer, pulled a male student to the front, put him in a dress, and had him read out Katherina’s ‘submission speech’ from the end of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

    I knew, of course, from films like John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love and Richard Eyre’s Stage Beauty that female roles were played by boys and young men right up to the Restoration. However, this was the first time I’d been challenged to think about the implications of that historically distant performance practice on the production and reception of Shakespeare’s plays.

    From then on, whenever I read a play by Shakespeare or his contemporaries during my first degree or my Master of Studies at Oxford, the idea of the play in performance, acted out by a tight-knit troupe of men and boys was something I couldn’t get away from. And, in fact, that led me right back to Exeter and to Professor Pascale Aebischer, who became one of my PhD supervisors (though she never asked me to wear a dress).

    This is the first time that the J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize has been won by a UK scholar. What prompted you to enter?

    I was aware of the prize, as several people whose work I really admire - among them Claire Bourne, Carla Della Gatta, and Noémie Ndiaye - had won it in previous years. There aren’t many opportunities for graduate students to have their work recognised professionally, so it seemed worth giving it a go, not least since I’d already completed the hard work of writing!

    I wasn’t particularly deterred by the fact that no one from the UK had won it before - as an organisation, the SAA welcomes scholars from all over the world. A dissertation is only eligible for one year, so I’m glad I didn’t hang about!

    What do you think are the most significant differences between how the UK and the US engage with, study and perform Shakespeare’s works?

    There’s a lot of overlap, of course, because collaboration is more possible now than it’s ever been. One thing that has struck me in recent years, however, has been how much more willing US scholars and teachers have been to engage with questions of race in Shakespeare’s plays: how race is formed and presented in the texts themselves, but also how Shakespeare’s plays have historically been used to uphold and reinforce racial injustice.

    That conversation seems to me considerably more advanced in the USA. There, the idea that literary and performance criticism can somehow be ‘objective’ or impervious to questions of race is less commonplace, though things are slowly starting to change over here. It’s exciting to be a part of that change through involvement with organisations like the SAA, who are in some ways leading the way.

    Which is your favourite Shakespeare play, and why?

    The clichéd academic answer is often ‘whatever I’m working on at the moment,’ but I’ve never minded being considered a cliché. I’ve been working closely on Antony and Cleopatra for years now (there’s a whole chapter dedicated to Cleopatra in the dissertation, and the book that’s come out of it), but it remains my favourite.

    The role of Cleopatra is among the most challenging Shakespeare wrote for boy performers. There’s always an aspect of what Shakespeare calls Cleopatra’s ‘infinite variety’ that seems somehow ungraspable in performance—I find that endlessly fascinating. The play calls for some hugely impressive physical feats on stage (most of them performed by Cleopatra herself) which have the potential to dazzle an audience. It also has some of the most beautiful set speeches Shakespeare wrote, I think.

    What’s next for you and your research?

    I’m still in the process of turning the dissertation into a book, but I’m getting there. I have started thinking quite seriously about the ‘difficult second album,’ which is going to be a project on race and early modern childhood.

    It’s becoming more apparent as I rework the material for the book that race - particularly whiteness - doesn’t often come into the conversation in scholarship on historical boys and children. I think it’s worth exploring why that is, and how we might address that.

    Display date: 
    Tuesday, April 13, 2021 (All day)
  • College Archivist publishes survey of graffiti at Jesus

    A photo of a carved symbol, consisting of six ellipses extending from a central point within a circle, on a wall.

    Jesus College Archivist, Robert Athol, has revealed the results of a year-long project, ‘Students and symbols: a survey of graffiti at Jesus College, Cambridge’, in Post-Medieval Archaeology.

    Between December 2016 and February 2018, Robert conducted a detailed survey of graffiti around the College. Though graffiti is increasingly being studied as a form of historical evidence, the majority of existing surveys have taken place in religious rather than secular buildings. Robert’s survey is the first of its kind at a Cambridge or Oxford College, with their unique hybrid of domestic and institutional architecture.

    Robert found over 1000 pieces of graffiti, dating from the 16th to late 20th centuries, of which 482 included names or initials. Other findings include religious symbols, apotropaic (ritual protection) marks, and multiple instances of signatures from members of the same family who both studied at Jesus. The oldest dated piece, which reads ‘Jasper Baker 1596’, was found in the bell tower of the College Chapel. Two carvings of the College crest appear in separate locations, and a cupboard in the Master’s Lodge appears to have been constructed entirely from heavily graffitied medieval panelling in the nineteenth century.

    Robert said, "This survey explores an important part of College history that has been there, literally in plain sight, but has been previously overlooked.  As well as an immediate understanding of the markings themselves (such as names of students, symbols to protect against perceived malevolent spirits, knife sharpening marks), we get a fantastic insight into the interactions between those inhabiting the College and their surroundings from the 16th-19th centuries.  

    “My favourite examples are probably all the figurative graffiti, particularly the one that appears to be a woman holding hands with a young boy (possibly early 17th century based on the woman's costume). I also like the instances of names written together that perhaps indicate friendships or relationships that are not likely to have been recorded or survived in documents.

     “In time, once further indexing and cataloguing work has taken place in the Archives, cross-checking of information from the archives and the graffiti survey can potentially lead to further discoveries about College history. Perhaps the most significant of these would be a retrospective room register. From such a project, we could learn more about how the college organised accommodation for its inhabitants, whether along geographic, social or economic lines, over a period spanning hundreds of years.

    “It was great fun carrying out the survey and I am so grateful to everyone in College who helped by giving me access to their rooms and areas in College not usually accessible, as without that support it wouldn't have been possible to carry out the survey and make such fantastic discoveries. 

    Robert hopes that his survey will inspire similar projects at other historic universities and Colleges. A team of student volunteers is currently indexing the accounts held in the College Archives, a project that may take up to seven years to complete. Crosschecking between this data and the surveyed graffiti may help to create the retrospective room database, and reconstruct the spatial politics of the social hierarchies in past College communities.

    You can find out more about the College Archives on our website, and follow Robert’s work on Twitter (@JesusArchives), where he features a new piece of College graffiti each week. ‘Students and symbols: a survey of graffiti at Jesus College, Cambridge’ is available to read online now.

    Display date: 
    Monday, April 12, 2021 (All day)


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