We form a collegiate-style choir based in the Dame Monica Wills Chapel in the University of Bristol. The Chapel is connected with, and is located in the grounds of, Wills Hall, one of the university's halls of residence. The hall is in the North Residential Village, on the Downs. Ours is the only collegiate-style choir in the University. As a small choir, each member is vital to the ensemble, everyone counts!
Services are are chiefly held in the early evening on Fridays in term time, immediately preceded by a rehearsal. There are sometimes special services held on other days. Each year the Armistice is commemorated with a Remembrance service in the Chapel, and, in the general course of events, we sing carol services at Advent, Christmas, and Easter. The Choir occasionally performs concerts in the Chapel, most recently the Fauré Requiem for Remembrance (both the War dead, and those who have succumbed during the pandemic). This took place on the 14th November, 2021, and was accompanied by members of the University Chamber Orchestra.
The choir seeks to sing to a high standard, and in recent years it has gone from strength to strength - we seek to build on this reputation as we welcome new singers in all voice parts.
Note that we generally do NOT sing during vacation time, nor in parts of the academic year when other events, for example, examinations, are in progress. Dates and times of forthcoming services can be seen on this website, and also on the UK Choral Evensong website. Exceptions may occur if, for example, we are invited to sing at a cathedral or similar.
The Chapel's music is generally from the Anglican tradition, and those of any denomination or none are very welcome to join us at the services. Music in the liturgies is drawn from the canon of music composed for sacred use from the 14th to the 21st centuries. Most services are either Sung Evensong, according to the Book of Common Prayer, or Compline, a mixture of Latin and English sung to plainchant, readings are taken from the King James version of the Bible (KJV).
The Chapel was built with funds provided by Dame Monica Wills, and was dedicated in 1930. Its acoustics are notable, and are encouraging to singers and players alike. In 2008, a splendid small (two manuals and pedal) mechanical action organ was provided through the good offices of the Wills Hall Association. The organ stands on a west gallery.
In addition to liturgical music, the university authorities overseeing the Chapel, and the Wills Hall Association, are keen to enable concerts to be held - for residents and for the general public - in the Chapel.
The principal planning and administration work of the Chapel Choir is overseen by the Director of Music, David Dewar, and so the Organ Scholar has time for the development of solo and accompanying skills to the highest standard.
The Organ Scholar also has the opportunity to develop their conducting skills, both with the main choir and with ad hoc choral ensembles which sing at services from time to time. In addition, the Organ Scholar is able to take on roles role in the musical life of the University in general, through the multitude of ensembles run by the Department of Music and the Bristol University Musical Society. For more information about the Organ Scholarship, please see the box below.
David Dewar succeeded the composer Peter Relph as Director of Music in 2019. David is a final year PhD candidate in Music at the university, and has over 30 years experience as a church director of music. He is an orchestral conductor, organist, harpsichordist, and horn-player. He can be contacted by email, here. The present Organ Scholar is t.b.a.