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Government funding to provide unique musical experience for church choir

Published: 
17 February 2009

Talented young singers are being offered a unique musical and intellectual experience thanks to a new agreement between the University of Southampton and the Friends of St Michael’s Church, Southampton’s oldest church building.

The Friends of St Michael’s have made a gift of £10,000 a year for three years to provide an opportunity for music students within the University’s School of Humanities to sing in the choir Cantores Michaelis and receive a choral scholarship worth £1,000 a year.

The gift is made on the basis that equal funds will be provided from the Government’s matched funding scheme for the same purpose. This will provide a total of £60,000 over the three-year period.

The gift will fund the existing eight choral scholarships currently funded by the Friends and add an extra two, so there will be a total of 10 each year. From the matched funding, the University will provide one organ scholarship and at least eight other scholarships for Music students at the University.

The Organ Scholar is to accompany all services and events at which Cantores Michaelis sing and attend all relevant rehearsals. The other Music students who receive scholarships will also provide a number of concerts at the church throughout the academic year.

Cantores Michaelis, founded and directed by the University of Southampton’s Head of Vocal Studies Keith Davis, is funded by The Friends of St Michael’s and based at the ancient Southampton city centre church of St Michael the Archangel. The group specialises in unaccompanied repertoire for the liturgy, ranging from Gregorian chant, Tudor and Renaissance Masses and motets, to music by contemporary composers.

Government funding to provide unique musical experience for church choir.
Choral scholars from Cantores Michaelis

On special feast days and concerts, the singers are joined by orchestral players for the performance of Mass settings.

Keith Davis comments: “The Southampton University Choral Scholars, Cantores Michaelis, have impacted on the professional music scene in the UK. For example, Joe Stilgoe (son of Richard Stilgoe) performs regularly at Ronnie Scotts and the principal London venues and has just released an album I like that one to high critical acclaim in The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph.  Emily Rowley-Jones recently completed the MMus at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was winner of the 2007 Hampshire Singer of the Year Award. Emily has performed major roles for the GSMD and British Youth Opera, including a highly-acclaimed Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, and in opera choruses at the Salzburg Festival, Covent Garden, and the Barbican.  Rhona MacGregor is currently in the West End playing in Billy Elliot and has been appointed to teach voice at the University of Southampton.”

Reverend Tim Daykin of St Michael’s Church adds: “This is really good news for St Michael’s and for our relationship with the University and for church music.”

The University of Southampton is a leading UK centre for early music research and practice and in the league tables based on the latest national assessment of research, Music at Southampton was ranked between second and fourth in the country.

Students engage with the scholarly and practical issues raised by historical sources in both academic and performance modules. Performers can focus on any instrument, an early instrument, or pursue twin performance tracks on an early and a modern instrument. In addition to the fine harpsichords and early pianos in our keyboard collection, Southampton has an excellent suite of period instruments available for loan to students.

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