Following a highly successful recording of Duruflé’s Requiem and Milford’s Mass for Five Voices, the Choir of Somerville College, Oxford, has released its second commercial CD on the Stone Records label.
The beautifully-presented album is a countdown-to-Christmas and comprises 24 tracks (with a bonus track for Christmas Day) featuring wonderful performances of some of the best-loved carols of all time, and a handful of première recordings that will delight all music lovers.
Each Advent Sunday has its own Bach chorale, and thus the listener is guided through Advent towards the climax: Christmas Day. The track list includes favourite carols by Rutter, Warlock, Poston, Gardner, Cornelius, Goldschmidt and Wood as well as newly commissioned works by Toby Young, Raymond Head and Paul Sartin (member of the folk band Bellowhead).
The Choir of Somerville College, conducted by David Crown, is joined by guest soloists Mary-Louise Aitken (soprano) and Jeremy Carpenter (baritone), who was most recently seen in the Royal Opera House’s production of Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana. They are accompanied by Robert Smith (organ), Douglas Knight (organ) and Keith Fairbairn (percussion).
The CD was recorded shortly after the end of Trinity Term and the production team had to work on a very tight schedule to ensure that the work on album was completed in time for the festive season.
“I was very excited to be part of this project,” said Organ Scholar Robert Smith, “although it was a little odd to be dressed up in cracker hats in the middle of June! Still, we managed to get into the Christmas spirit and had plenty fun along the way, working in the awesome surroundings of Keble Chapel and with some world-class soloists, which was a privilege.”
The CD release coincides with the preparations for the choir’s first ever BBC radio broadcast later this week. David Crown and choir manager Stefan Schwarz are also currently organising the choir’s first US tour, which will take the group to prestigious venues like Washington National Cathedral.
“This CD is particularly important to the choir as it should be popular in America, where we are trying to make a name for ourselves in advance of our tour there this coming summer,” said Smith.
Conductor David Crown believes Somerville’s musical advent calendar should appeal to a wide audience.
“Following up the great success of our first CD which gathered excellent notices, this is a Christmas CD for everyone!” he said. “Lots of old favourites and a few new ones or carols I love that you might not have come across before. There is a track for every day in the run up to Christmas to keep your spirits high!”
Advent Calendar will be released on 4 November 2013 (UK) and 12 November 2013 (USA and all other countries). The CD is available for purchase from Amazon UK, Amazon USA and Stone Records. Please see the choir’s website for a full track list. A promotional video is available from YouTube.