Oxford Girls’ Choir was formed by Richard Vendome in 1984. It was the first choir of its kind in England to develop girls’ singing as a musical medium in its own right, and not just as a substitute for the adult or the boy’s voice. Several former members have gone on to become professional singers or instrumentalists.
OGC performs a wide range of music, including jazz, opera and most areas of choral music, with regular workshops given by visiting specialists. The choir provides a thorough technical training, and advanced members have individual lessons. The senior choir has over 50 members, aged 11–18, from state and independent schools in the Oxford area, and a teaching staff of two. Some of the older girls are able to undertake paid work and help with the running of the junior choirs.
The choir has made three award-winning CDs of music by Hildegard of Bingen with the ensemble SINFONYE, and three others of medieval music. It is also active in the world of contemporary music, and has commissioned or premièred many new compositions and arrangements, including
Judith Bingham: The Ghost of Combermere Abbey
Howard Haigh: The Oxford Mummers
Edward Dudley-Hughes: Ascention (John Donne)
Kenneth Leaper: Maids of Masura, A Page From our Pillow Book, Butterflies, Sutra
Francis Pott: Nunc Natus Est Altissimus
Roderick Williams: Alice in Wonderland (opera), Set me as a seal, and many original arrangements of jazz standards
Stevie Wishart: Sub Rosa
Emily Levy: Unending Sky
OGC performs regularly, and has sung in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Malta, Ireland and Wales. In 2005 the Schola Pietatis Antonio Vivaldi, based on past and present OGC members and others, filmed the programmes “Vivaldi’s Women” and “Gloria” in the church of La Pietà in Venice, recorded a programme for the Radio 3 series “The Choir”. The Chamber Choir also sings at functions and events at venues in the area including recently Oxford Castle, the Ashmolean Museum, Highclere Castle, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and various Oxford colleges. In December 2014 the Chamber Choir took part in concerts in Reims, France under the direction of Edward Higginbottom to commemorate the truce of Christmas 1914.
The choir meets on Saturday mornings during school term from 10.30 to 13.00 in the Main Hall at Cherwell School. All applicants are auditioned, but girls are welcome to attend a free taster session first. The audition is meant to show what you CAN do, not what you can’t! Singers should bring along a piece they know well, and will also be given some simple musical tests. Instrumentalists may play a short piece if they wish. The choir is directed by Richard Vendome and Penelope ‘Peps’ Martin-Smith. Please contact the Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to speak to the Musical Director.
Oxford Girls’ Choir is part of the Oxford Youth Choirs – a group of six choirs for children aged between 4 and 18.