LMH choir offers a huge range of opportunities- accepting singers throughout the college, irrespective of ability, it’s a brilliant place to meet new people, improve singing ability and gain wonderful experiences. Led by choirmaster and Director of Music Nicolas Prozzillo, 2015 has seen the choir go from strength to strength, from being invited to sing in Pembroke College, Cambridge to singing within the Vatican City. The regular services every Sunday, as well as two weekly rehearsals beforehand, means the choir has become a close knit group of friends as well as an adept group of singers.
The highlight of the LMH choir’s calendar is the annual summer tour - and in 2015 the choir travelled to Rome with the Chaplain and Director of Music, to sing in some of Italy’s most incredible churches. As well as performing, the choir got to see some of best sights Rome had to offer and to explore the city- this meant various luxurious meals out in the evenings, followed by long, lazy nights chatting outside the Colosseum. Indeed, the experience seemed unique from the very first afternoon, when we discovered we were staying in a nunnery! And it didn’t stop there- each day revealed new discoveries. From the small drinking fountains dotted everywhere around the city, to the majesty of the Castel Sant’ Angelo, to the proliferation of tiny, intensely vibrant and colourful churches that hid tucked into side streets, Rome had so much to offer. The tour was filled with small moments of wonder and joy that stay in the memory- one that particularly stands out is the choir rehearsing on the Spanish Steps, overlooked by Keats’ house, and laughing as we tried (and failed) to tackle French religious pronunciation. And then there were the incredible churches we were able to perform in: it felt a privilege to sing in these vast, venerated spaces that were filled with the hushed tones of worship. Already well practiced through many rehearsals back in Oxford, the choir were able to simply take pleasure in the music sung well and to enjoy the incredible atmosphere. From giving a concert in the monolithic proportions of the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura (much rebuilt in the 19th century and reputedly home of the tomb of St. Paul) to singing in an evening Mass in Santa Maria Maggiore, each church brought the chance of more music, and more discovery.
Exploring Rome with LMH choir could also always turn up something unexpected: from a community lunch at an English-speaking church after the service to a private guided tour of the St Peter’s Basilica, there never seemed to be a shortage of memorable experiences! And yes, we even managed to see the Pope (albeit for a few moments in a blacked-out car). It was also a joy to sing such interesting music: under the leadership of Josie Lindsey-Clark and Nicolas Prozzillo the programme ran through French, English and Italian music to the Romans, including a virtuoso organ solo by our new organ scholar Guy Steed. To bring the arrangement of music that we’d practiced every Sunday in LMH Chapel and perform it in the liturgy of an evening Mass in St Peter’s Basilica was an experience none of us will forget.
As well as these incredible journeys and experiences, LMH choir is full of smaller joys: getting to sing choral music regularly, the silent contemplation of Sunday services, and the camaraderie amongst the choir members. LMH choir is a really wonderful family to be part of: it’s certainly about much more than a high skilled level of singing. Summer 2016 sees the choir travelling to perform in various churches around Sicily: I can’t wait to see what other adventures the New Year will bring for us.
- Benjamin Ray (History)