The city of Oxford The choir returns to its roots this summer when it gives two concerts with the Nederlands Koor.
The Oxford Choir was hastily founded in 1977 to house a choir from its Dutch sister city, Leiden.
Now, 46 years later, the musical bond between the two cities is being restored when the 40-strong Oxford Choir gives two concerts with the Leiden English Choir.
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The first will take place on Saturday 10 June in Leiden and the second on Saturday 8 July at 7.30 pm in Oxford Town Hall.
Heather Ralphs of the Oxford Choir tells me: “In 1977 a male singer from Leiden tried to arrange exchange visits with the Oxford Harmonic Choir (OHC).
“OHC couldn’t provide enough home stays, so soprano Mary Williams organized a new choir of singers who could provide beds for visitors.
“He recruited singers from seven local choirs and the City of Oxford Choir was born, with Mary Williams as secretary.
“The choir was initially intended to be temporary, but was given a permanent basis in 1978 with the appointment of Carolyn Brock as musical director.”
In the early years, the choir exchanged with choirs from Bonn, the German sister city of Leiden and Oxford, and toured other cities in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
It was regularly performed at concerts in Oxford and performed annually at the Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carol Concerts at Oxford Town Hall.
It celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017 with a concert at Queen’s College Chapel.
Mrs. Brock, organist and choirmaster at Mansfield College, led the choir for 20 years.
Peter Leech took over from 1998 to 2005 with the current director, Duncan Aston.
The two forthcoming concerts, entitled ‘A World to See’, according to the organizers, will “celebrate the world, its abstract tutelage and the gift we make of it to our children”.
The program also includes works by Hebe de Champeaux, conductor of the Leids Koor, and works by John Ireland, Herbert Howells, Arvo Bart, Jonathan Dove and Sarah Quartel. In the evening the Thame Children’s Choir also performs.
Ms Ralphs says: “The concerts will provide a visual and audible experience of the duo, showing how to sing together and the relationships between citizens of different countries.
“The City of Oxford Choir returns to its roots in grand style.”
The 75th anniversary of Oxford’s oldest sister city merger was celebrated last year with the planting of a tree in Leiden.
Oxford and Leiden reached the milestone in 2021, but had to postpone the celebrations due to Covid.
It is the first time since 2019 that an Oxford party has visited Leiden because of the pandemic.
TicketsOxford – Tickets for the concert in Oxford are available at https://www.ticketsoxford.com/events/to-see-a-world
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