The Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge

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It's Christmas Eve and we have a beautifully reflective piece for you today. We are in Cambridge to visit the choir of Selwyn College, directed by Sarah MacDonald. They're singing Fanny Hensel's Gebet in der Christnacht (Prayer for Christmas Eve), arranged by Olivia Sparkhall.

Selwyn College Chapel was consecrated on St Etheldreda’s Day, 17 October 1895, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury. Selwyn College Chapel Choir has led worship in the College Chapel since its foundation. For the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, the all-male choir of undergraduates was directed by the Organ Scholars, and sang daily Choral Evensong. For occasional larger works, the men borrowed sopranos and altos from Newnham College, the women's College across the road from Selwyn. The mixed choir, formed in 1976 with the admission of women to Selwyn, now consists of up to twenty-eight singers, Choral Scholars (called Choral Exhibitioners) and volunteers, and the choir's link with Newnham continues to the present day. Most of the choir members are undergraduates or graduates at Selwyn or Newnham, with a few volunteers from other colleges, and they read a variety of subjects including Music, English, Natural Sciences, and Engineering. Sarah MacDonald was appointed Director of Music at Selwyn in 1999; she was the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge chapel.

During term, the choir sings three services per week in the College Chapel, as well as concerts and services throughout the UK, recently in venues including Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, and St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh. Its repertoire ranges from the 10th to the 21st century. They have broadcast services for BBC Radio, have sung live on television, and every year undertake an international tour (in the recent past destinations have included Israel and Palestine, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and much of mainland Europe). Under Sarah's direction, the choir has made over 25 commercial recordings and they are particularly known for championing living composers in their acclaimed series with Regent Records.

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