Perfecting sound and vision

When conductor David Rowland rehearsed with the acclaimed Christ’s College Chapel Choir in St Andrew’s Anglican Church on Sunday, he knew there was something wrong.

Conductor David Rowland explains why he rearranged the singers in the Christ’s College Chapel Choir for the concert in St Andrew’s Anglican Church. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

“I couldn’t hear the tenors and basses as much as I thought I should be hearing them,” the Professor of Music at Christ’s College in Cambridge, England told the 200 people packed into the Cambridge, New Zealand church for a concert on Sunday afternoon.

Such were the acoustics in the 143-year-old Neo-Gothic wooden church that the sopranos and altos were drowning them out and he had to move them forward.

“Then the problem arose – some of the tenors and basses are considerably taller,” he said pointing to Exhibit A, a tall singer to his left.

“We worked it out so they could see me, and you could see the rest of them.”

The mixed-voice choir undertakes a major international tour each year and it is their second visit to Cambridge – the first was in 2006.

The choir’s repertoire embraces sacred and secular music from the 15th century to the present. College foundress Lady Margaret Beaufort left a bequest of three organs on her death in 1509 which resulted in a choir starting, originally with male voices only with a boy trebles singing the upper parts.

Girls were admitted to Christ’s College in 1979 but prior to that, the choir used females from other colleges to sing the upper parts.

The concert in Cambridge featured choral compositions by Hubert Parry, Charles Villiers Stanford and Herbert Howells.

A section of the Christ’s College Chapel Choir during the concert in St Andrew’s Anglican Church with the tall bass at right. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

A section of the Christ’s College Chapel Choir during the concert in St Andrew’s Anglican Church. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

Chapel Choir of Christ’s College Cambridge. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.


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