Image of South Africa Outreach

Choir outreach

Local community in Cambridgeshire

The Choirs of Jesus College are uniquely involved in the local community of Cambridge. Rather than maintaining a choir school, we recruit all our Choristers from local schools, helping many young boys to gain access to an excellent and varied musical education.

The Choirs also run Singing Days and ‘Be a Chorister for a Day’ events. Often held jointly with the girls' choir at St Catharine’s College, they allow the College to share its facilities and expertise with the local community.

Held every other summer, Singing Days enable boys and girls aged 6–11 to enjoy workshops with our expert animateur Hilary Llystyn Jones for a fun afternoon of singing. This culminates in an informal performance for parents in the magical surroundings of Jesus College Chapel. No musical experience is necessary to take part and all children are welcome. To find out more please contact the Choir Administrator.

Held on the alternate year, the 'Be a Chorister for a Day' events invite local boys to a singing workshop, after which they join the Choristers to take part in Evensong in the College Chapel. To find out more about 'Be a Chorister for the day', please contact the Choir Administrator.

Since Christmas 2017 the Choir has visited Epworth Court, a retirement home just five minutes away from College, to sing carols to and with the residents. This always includes some of the old favourites such as ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, but also some new close-harmony arrangements they may not have heard before. The singing is always followed by tea and cake and a chance to get to know the residents.

In January 2019 the College Choir led a singing workshop with 15 residents of HMP Whitemoor, March, in collaboration with the 'Learning Together' initiative. With music ranging from the sixteenth century to the present day, the choir performed a few pieces to the residents, but most rewarding was learning to sing and harmonize together as a group. There were also chances to chat to the residents and learn a bit about each other.  The Choir went back on two more occasions in Spring 2019, including a celebratory showcase event where the Whitemoor residents performed some of their own music and poetry.

Visiting schools and choirs

The Choirs of Jesus College enjoy welcoming visiting choirs to sing a joint service in the College’s beautiful Chapel. Members of visiting school or youth choirs rehearse and perform in the choir stalls mixed in amongst the current choral scholars. Visits regularly include an opportunity to meet current choral and organ scholars studying a wide range of subjects during tea or supper.

Past collaborations have included visits from Saffron Walden Junior Choir, King's School Wimbledon, St Peter's School York, Langley Hall Primary Academy, the Choir of Derby High School, the Chamber Choir of the University of Virginia, and Inner Voices, the ground-breaking chamber choir formed of young people from a number of inner London state schools.

Potential applicants for scholarship in the Choir are more than welcome to attend services or rehearsals and to arrange to meet with the Director of Music. If you are interested in doing so, please contact the Choir Administrator.

International work

The College is proud of its ongoing collaboration with the charity Songbound which aims to improve the lives of under-privileged children in India through music and in March 2013, visited Mumbai to work with children. The Choir continues to raise money to support choirs in the slums of Mumbai, and continues to fundraise to promote cultural exchange, in the hope that some of the children the Choir have worked with might visit the UK to collaborate with musicians in Cambridge and other cities.

In December 2014, the College Choir collaborated with educational organisations in Sri Lanka to work with various choirs of schoolchildren in Colombo, Kandy, Galle and Jaffna.

Former Director of Music Mark Williams is also a trustee of the Muze Trust which works to promote music education in Zambia. In July 2013, the Choir of Jesus College joined the Choir of Merton College, Oxford and pupils of St Margaret's School Bushey in St James's Church, Piccadilly for a concert to raise money for the Muze Trust. The Choirs of Jesus and Merton Colleges have regularly joined together since then to sing concerts in aid of the Muze Trust in both college chapels.

As part of the tour to South Africa in July 2018, the Choir took part in outreach in Cape Town and Soweto. We visited two charitable organisations who work with some of the poorest children in the area: singing, playing football and even dancing with the kids there. The choir also visited a residential care home in Johannesburg, where we sang some of our sacred and secular tour repertoire to the residents, followed by refreshments and a chance to chat.

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