Gentlemen of the Choir take to the operatic stage

Posted on: 11 January 2017

The Choir of St John's College, Cambridge

It may be the week before the full Choir is back for term, but the sound of singing can already be heard from the Song School as no less than 13 Gentlemen of the Choir prepare for two of Cambridge's operatic performances this term.

In January, two Gentlemen have been cast in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, a St John's College Music Society production which is to be performed in the Palmerston Room in College: Peter Lidbetter as Tarquinius and James Beddoe as the Male Chorus.

February will see 12 involved in the CUOS (Cambridge University Opera Society) production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress (the Society gave the work its U.K. premiere in 1956) which is being directed by Choral Student William Ashford. It features Michael Bell as Tom Rakewell, James Adams as Nick Shadow, Joseph Wicks as Sellem the Auctioneer (quite possibly the first St John's organist to be cast in a Cambridge opera), and Stephen Matthews as the Keeper of the Asylum, as well as James Beddoe, Daniel Gethin, Matthew Gibson, Simon Grant, Gopal Kambo, Piers Kennedy and Louis Watkins in the Chorus.

These productions come after the success of Kepler's Trial, a work conceived by St John's Fellow Professor Ulinka Rublack, with the music written by composer and Sub-director of Studies in Music at St John's, Tim Watts. 10 Gentlemen both past and present were involved in the work: William Ashford was the Director; Theodore Platt performed as Johannes Kepler, Hugh Cutting as Daemon, and Michael Bell as the Schoolmaster/Gabelkhover; the Madrigal Quintet were James Beddoe, Daniel Brown, Gopal Kambo, Piers Kennedy, and Stephen Matthews; and in the orchestra Joseph Wicks played the keyboards. The other instrumentalists included many students from St John's, and the Chorus were the St John's Voices - our sister choir - with their Director Graham Walker conducting the work. The opera received its first performance in St John's College Chapel, the entire of which can be viewed below via Youtube.

The Rape of Lucretia (St John's Music Society) and The Rake's Progress (CUOS)

The Rape of Lucretia (St John's Music Society) and The Rake's Progress (CUOS)

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Recorded on
9 June 2019

 

  • Responses and Preces: Shephard
  • Psalm 48 (Goss)
  • Antiphon: Non vos relinquam
  • Howells (Collegium Regale)
  • Harvey: Come, Holy Ghost
  • Hymns 140, 408(i)
  • Preacher: The Rev’d Dr Paul Edmondson, Head of Research and Knowledge, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust William Shakespeare
  • Voluntary: J.S. Bach Komm, Heiliger Geist (BWV 651)

 

 

Choral singing comes no better

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer