Alex Tester, Director of Music, writes: We are regularly impressed and proud of the work of our Chapel Choirs, but it was a pleasure to see them raise their game once again for a very different collaborative project on Sunday 13 March. Performing at St John the Evangelist, the concert venue church off Iffley Road, and as part of the fine work of Oxford Contemporary Music, the choirs sang as the main vocal group in ‘Invocation’, a piece composed by Robert Mitchell on piano and featuring his quartet, Panacea. Mitchell has long been a big British jazz name, performing in venues all over the country, and this work was premiered at London Jazz Festival in 2013. Its themes are based on education and the importance of learning, whatever age you are — and how effective and appropriate to be the first school involved in performing it with this very impressive jazz group. The piece also involved recited declamations from Nicola Harrison and solo sung sections by a semi-professional octet, Plebs Angelica.
Learning the notes for a totally new style, all in close harmony jazz chords, and understanding the style behind the notes, has been a constant challenge, but the gritty determination of the Chapel Choirs definitely paid off; the final performance had a real drive and direction to it, enjoying call and response phrases with singer Deborah Jordan and fitting musical ideas around extensive free jazz solos by Laurie Lowe on drums and Tom Mason on bass. A real honour to be involved with the project, and well done to all the choristers involved in the final concert.