Somerville Choir, in its present form, was founded by Francis Knights (Director of Chapel Music) and Sam Bayliss (Organ Scholar/College Organist) in 2001. The choir sings in the college chapel every Sunday during term and performs regularly in concerts organised by Somerville Music Society. The meet every Sunday from 4.00-5.45pm to rehearse for the evening service at 6pm. There are additional rehearsals every Thursday at 5pm. Since 2007 the choir has been conducted by David Crown (Director of Chapel Music). He is assisted by Robert Smith (Organ Scholar) and Stefan Schwarz (Choir Manager).
In recent years the choir has sung services and concerts at Worcester, Southwark, Winchester and Wells, Blackburn and St. Paul's cathedrals. In 2005 and 2009 the choir toured Germany under the patronage of Sir Peter Torry, the British ambassador to Germany, and sang services and concerts in Berlin, Potsdam and Brandenburg. A third foreign tour took the choir to Italy where they sang in Milan, Crema and Lodi.
The choir has been involved in two opera productions (Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice) as well as high-profile concerts in Oxford, Brighton, Swindon and Upton. In 2009-2010 the choir appeared in a memorial concert for Iris Murdoch, performed George Frideric Handel's Messiah in Oxford and gave a performance of John Tavener's Song for Athene in the presence of the composer. In 2010-2011 Somerville Choir performed J.S. Bach's St John Passion (BWV 245) and recorded its first commercial CD "Requiem æternam" (Maurice Duruflé's Requiem and Robin Milford's Mass for Five Voices) which was released by Stone Records in August 2012. The album features internationally acclaimed soloists Christine Rice (mezzo-soprano), Mark Stone (baritone) and Guy Johnston (cello). In 2011-2012 the choir performed J.S. Bach's Easter cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 4) and Schubert's Mass in G with a professional orchestra and sang evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne. The choir also undertook a tour of Lancashire and sang at Blackburn Cathedral and Lancaster Priory.
Plans for 2012-2013 include two further performances at St. Paul's Cathedral, a concert at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London as well as recording sessions for our second CD. The Choir of Somerville College will also participate in Benjamin Britten in Oxford's Writing for Voices, a project run in collaboration with JAM.