Course 5

The Queen's College, Oxford, 22 Aug - 30 Aug 2017

Course Director: Ralph Allwood

Age range: 16-18

Please note: Courses 5 (Oxford) and 6 (Cambridge) will run concurrently between 22 – 30 August 2017

  • Music

    During the week the full choir sings a wide range of music spanning the last five centuries up to the present day for the main course performances. In your small CONSORTS you will sing a variety of music from madrigals to close-harmony and jazz arrangements
    You will be asked to bring some SOLO music to work on in your individual SINGING LESSONS and there will be a chance for you to perform any other music during an INFORMAL CONCERT.

  • Organists

  • Venue

  • Tutors

    Ralph Allwood

    course director

    Ralph Allwood MBE founded the Eton Choral Courses in 1980 and was Precentor and Director of Music at Eton College until 2011. Alongside positions as Conductor of Inner Voices, Director of Rodolfus Choir and Director of Music at the Old Royal Naval Chapel, Greenwich, Ralph is in high international demand for choral workshops and master-classes. He is a choral advisor for Novello and the Voices Foundation, and adjudicates the Choir of the Year Competition and the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.

    Ralph Allwood

    Giles Underwood

    Singing Teacher

    After reading Biology as an Academical Clerk at Magdalen College, Oxford, Giles Underwood attended the opera course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he won prizes for English and Contemporary song and was generously supported by the Foyle Foundation. He studied then, as now, with Susan McCulloch. His wide operatic repertoire and extensive experience as a soloist with the UK’s top orchestras supplements his recital, recently Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and the Temple Festival with Julius Drake.

    Giles is also steeped in the tradition of the highest quality choral and ensemble singing. He was a chorister at Westminster Abbey and now teaches at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, where he has worked with many chapel choirs, and holds the posts of Assistant Singing Lecturer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Director of Music at University College, Oxford.

  • Highlights


    Merton College Chapel -

    We are delighted to be returning to Merton College Chapel for the Course Organ Recital, which will be given by organ students on Course 5.



    Queen's College, Oxford -

    Paul Spicer began his musical training as a chorister at New College, Oxford. He studied with Herbert Howells and Richard Popplewell (organ) at the Royal College of Music in London, winning the top organ award (the Walford Davies Prize) in his final year.

    Paul is best known as a choral conductor, partly through the many CDs he made with the Finzi Singers for Chandos records. He conducted Bach Choirs in Chester and Leicester before moving to conduct the Bach Choir in Birmingham in 1992. He also conducts the Whitehall Choir in London and is Conductor of the Petersfield Musical Festival. He taught at the Royal College of Music in London between 1995 and 2008. He now teaches choral conducting at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he also directs both chamber choirs, and at Oxford and Durham Universities. The Birmingham Conservatoire’s principal chamber choir has an increasing recording presence. It’s first disc To Music was outstandingly reviewed by MusicWeb International who described it as ‘one of the finest discs to have come my way in a long time’. Their recording of music by James MacMillan and Kenneth Leighton was attended by MacMillan and was released in April 2011 and has received five star reviews. Part songs by Ireland and Delius were recorded for Somm Records followed in 2012. A first ever recording of Stanford part songs was released July 2013 including a number of world premiere recordings. Their disc of rare Howells was Editor’s Choice in The Gramophone in December 2014. The complete choral works of Samuel Barber was released in 2015 with the English Visionaries disc of music by Vaughan Williams, Holst and Howells following in 2016.

    Until July 2001 Paul Spicer was Artistic Director of the Lichfield International Arts Festival and the Abbotsholme Arts Society, posts he relinquished in order to pursue a freelance musical career. He was Senior Producer for BBC Radio 3 in the Midlands until 1990 and today is in considerable demand as a composer. He has also been a much sought-after recording producer and, in particular, has produced over forty recordings with the organist Christopher Herrick.

    The first complete recording of Paul Spicer’s large-scale Easter Oratorio, originally commissioned as part of the Lichfield Festival Millennium celebrations, was released in 2005 and has received considerable critical acclaim, the work being recognised by Gramophone Magazine as ‘the best of its kind to have appeared… since Howells’s Hymnus Paradisi’. It was also chosen as Editor’s Choice in the same magazine. The Deciduous Cross, a work for choir and winds based on five poems by RS Thomas and premiered in June 2003, was commissioned for Paul’s tenth anniversary as conductor of the Birmingham Bach Choir and was recently recorded by the Whitehall Choir. It was described as ‘a deeply-felt composition, almost intoxicatingly melodic throughout to create a chaste kind of spiritual ecstasy in which elements of reviving nature figure strongly’. A recording of his complete works for organ, played by Robert Sharpe, was released in 2006 from Truro Cathedral, and a recording of his shorter choral works performed by the choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, was made in 2008. Individual works appear on discs by various artists and his Kiwi Fireworks for organ has been recorded five times. Paul’s new large-scale choral and orchestral work, Advent Oratorio, to another libretto by renowned New Testament scholar, Bishop Tom Wright, who wrote the text for the Easter Oratorio, was premiered in Lichfield Cathedral on 5 December 2009. His most recent major commission is a choral symphony, Unfinished Remembering, commemorating the centenary of the first World War in 2014. The poet Euan Tait wrote the libretto. The work was premiered in Symphony Hall, Birmingham to great acclaim in September 2014. 2015 onwards sees the publication of a whole series of Paul’s choral works by Boosey & Hawkes.

    Paul Spicer’s highly acclaimed biography of his composition teacher, Herbert Howells, was published in August 1998 was reprinted twice and republished in 2014 and again in 2016. His full-scale biography of the composer Sir George Dyson was published by Boydell Press in 2014. He was awarded a major grant by the British Academy to take a sabbatical period to further the research for this work. He is now working on a biography of Sir Arthur Bliss for the Crowood Press and has been awarded another British Academy grant to further research for this project. His English Pastoral Partsongs volume for OUP is widely used. As a writer he has written countless articles for many periodicals and is a contributor to the Dictionary of National Biography. He has twice written an overview of all James MacMillan’s choral music commissioned by Boosey & Hawkes, his publishers. Boosey and Hawkes commissioned a practical guide to the choral music of Benjamin Britten for his centenary in 2013 and Paul has given many lectures and workshops of Britten’s music during the centenary year.

    Besides these major projects Paul Spicer is in great demand for his choral workshops which take him all over the world. In July 2011 he gave a the first Proms Extra choral workshop on Havergal Brian’s giant Gothic Symphony for the Proms. He runs a series of annual choral courses under the banner of his Foundation, the English Choral Experience. These take place at Dore Abbey in the Golden Valley of Herefordshire, in Europe at Easter, and from October 2015 in a variety of locations around the UK, including Orford, Suffolk, St. Cross Hospital, Winchester and Durham Castle. (www.englishchoralexperience.co.uk). He is a broadcaster, lecturer and popular speaker. He visits the USA most years as a visiting lecturer and conductor at the University of South Carolina and Trinity Cathedral, Columbia.

    Paul Spicer is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Honorary Research Fellow of Birmingham University, an Honorary Fellow of University College, Durham, an Honorary Fellow of Birmingham Conservatoire, Honorary Fellow of Victoria College of Music and Drama (London), Lay Member of Lichfield Cathedral Chapter, Trustee of the Gerald Finzi Trust, Chairman of the Sir George Dyson Trust, Vice-President of the Herbert Howells Society, and Visiting Fellow to the Loughborough Endowed Schools.



    Queen's College, Oxford -

    Julian is a member of the King’s Singers. We look forward to welcoming him to Oxford give his first Consort Workshop with us.



    Magdalen College, Oxford - 28 August, 1800 - 1900

    We are fortunate that Magdalen College features regularly on our list of away venues. It has a fine chapel and choir, with excellent choral opportunities for students. It is an honour to be returning this summer with Course 5 for Choral Evensong.



    Merton College Chapel - 27 August, 2000 - 2045

    Compline is the final church office of the day in the Christian tradition of canonical hours, marking the ‘completion’ of the working day. The wonderful late-summer evening atmosphere in Merton College Chapel promises to be a very special experience or all.



    EXETER COLLEGE CHAPEL - 29 August, 1600 - 1730

    There has been a Chapel in Exeter College since its foundation in 1314, and has fulfilled many different functions over the past seven centuries, as understandings of religion and faith has changed through the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Oxford Movement. Today the Chapel is, of course a place of divine worship, but also a deliberately inclusive space, belonging to the whole College. There are excellent opportunities at Exeter College for Choral and Organ Scholars, and we are delighted to have been invited to perform our final Recital in the Chapel.

    Chapel Interior 001 2012