Image of Full Choir in Chapel in cassocks and surplices
Credit: Nick Rutter

The Choirs

The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge has gained an international reputation for its music-making, based on performances around the globe, broadcasts, highly praised recordings and regular services in the College's beautiful and ancient chapel.

Regularly performing with world-renowned orchestras and soloists, they are proud of their ongoing educational projects both in the UK and in Sri Lanka and India.

Jesus College, founded out of the ancient nunnery of St Radegund in 1496, has a long and rich tradition of church music. It is distinctive in maintaining two choirs: the Chapel Choir, with its centuries of tradition, which is made up of boy choristers and adult lower voices; and the College Choir, formed in 1982, which has female voices for its top line. The  ‘back row’ remains the same for both choirs. Each choir has developed a distinctive reputation and repertoire, whilst combining for key events and large-scale projects. In addition to the weekly schedule of choral services, members of the Choirs enjoy concerts, recordings, broadcasts and foreign tours.

The Chapel Choir

The choir is one of only three college choirs of its kind in Cambridge. It is thought that boys may have sung in the Chapel from the foundation of the College in the fifteenth century, but in 1849 the Choir was re-endowed and provision was made for "six singing boys" to adorn the worship of the newly-restored Chapel. The College does not maintain a choir school, but instead recruits choristers from a wide range of local schools.

The Chapel Choir sings for two of the four Choral Evensongs each week, and also participates in services, events and concerts outside of the usual weekly routine. Recent performances have taken the full Choir to the Abbaye de Solesmes, France and the Nicolaikirche in Leipzig. In May 2014, the choristers toured to Basel, Switzerland, as part of a major festival dedicated to youth choral music. In 2008, 2010 and 2012, the trebles collaborated with the Choir of King’s College and the Academy of Ancient Music for performances of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. In June 2016 they performed in the Rencontres Internationales de Choeurs d'Hommes in Geneva.

The College Choir

The College Choir sings two services of Choral Evensong each week and regularly performs at College feasts, additional services and concerts throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. In recent years, the Choir has given well-received performances of major works such as Handel's Dixit Dominus and Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, participated in the BBC Proms, and recorded broadcasts for BBC television and radio.

The Choir has given well-received performances of Bach’s St John Passion, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle; participated in the BBC Proms as part of the University’s 800th anniversary celebrations; and recorded broadcasts for BBC TV and Radios 2, 3 and 4. The Choir also has a rapidly expanding discography. Praised by The Times for their “energy, verve, immaculate tuning and beguiling tone”, Jesus Choral Scholars enjoy an exciting schedule of European and long-haul travel, including trips to Hong Kong, Italy, and Malta. Most recently, the summer of 2018 saw the Choir tour South Africa, including Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Choir has also been uniquely involved in outreach work in communities in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

The Combined Choirs

Occasionally, the College and Chapel Choirs join together for services and concerts, forming an ensemble of nearly fifty singers. Projects have included Haydn's Nelson Mass, Handel's Messiah and Bach's St Matthew Passion and St John Passion. The Choir has performed in Jesus College Chapel and other nearby venues including St Edmundsbury and Ely Cathedrals. The Combined Choirs have performed with renowned soloists and ensembles including the Saraband Consort and His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts under Mark Williams, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under John Rutter. The Combined Choirs also participate in regular large-scale performances with other Cambridge Choirs, including Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, Verdi's Otello and Britten's War Requiem.

The Combined Choirs also enjoy the opportunity to tour internationally, including trips to the United States of America, Germany and France and Italy – with many performances featured in television and radio broadcasts. The Combined Choirs also record annually with Signum Classics; you can find more information on our CDs in our Shop

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