Although Gonville and Caius College was first founded as Gonville Hall in 1348, the current musical tradition of the College is only a century old, beginning with the appointment of Charles Wood as Organist and Fellow in 1894. The choir in Wood's day contained boy trebles, but became an exclusively undergraduate male choir under his successor Patrick Hadley. In 1979 the College first admitted women, and the since then the choir has comprised male and female undergraduates, most of whom hold choral exhibitions, who study a wide variety of subjects.
In addition to singing the regular round of services during the university term in the College Chapel, the choir has a busy schedule of extra-mural activities including concerts, recordings, radio and television work, and tours. The choir gives regular concerts in Cambridge, as well as elsewhere in the UK, often in collaboration with a Baroque instrumental ensemble such as the Cambridge Baroque Camerata and Fiori Musicali.
Regular broadcasts of Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3 include music ranging from Byrd's Great Service to an anthem written specially for the choir by James MacMillan, On the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, sung from Armagh C. of I. Cathedral in Northern Ireland, where Charles Wood was chorister over a century ago. Other recent BBC work has included collaborations with Christopher Robinson and the Choir of St John's College, performing Schubert's Mass in A flat with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and Francis Poulenc's Stabat Mater, also with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, televised on BBC 2 from Grantham Church, Lincolnshire.
Recent tours have taken the choir to France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, Bulgaria and to different parts of the USA, and the choir has performed in a wide variety of venues, including churches and concert halls, at times in conjunction with radio and television broadcasts. Collaborations also take place from time to time with foreign instrumental ensembles, including a series of concerts of Händel's Solomon with the Philharmonia Baroque Ensemble in San Francisco, directed by Nicholas McGegan. The choir has also appeared as an opera chorus, taking part in the first production in Ireland of Mozart's Idomeneo with Opera Northern Ireland.
The choir's director, Geoffrey Webber, was educated at Oxford University, where he took the degrees of B.A., M.Phil., and D.Phil.. After being Organ Scholar at New College he went on to become University Organist and Assisting Organist at Magdalen College. He was appointed Precentor and Director of Music at Caius in 1989.