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Magdalene Chapel Choir

Magdalene College Choir

Magdalene College Choir is at the heart of the College’s musical and spiritual life, singing at two weekly services in the beautiful candlelit Chapel, as well as pursuing other activities including concerts, tours, and recordings.

The choir is directed by the Precentor, Mr James Potter, assisted by the Organ Scholars. Renowned for being an exceptionally friendly and sociable group, it comprises around 20-24 Members of the College and volunteers from other Colleges.

The Choir’s central function is to sing for Choral Evensong twice a week during Term, on Thursdays and Sundays. Alongside their chapel commitments, the choir has an active programme of performances including tours, concerts, visiting services, recordings, and College dinners. In recent years, the Choir has undertaken successful concert tours to Spain, the USA, Germany, France, Italy, and Malta.

In 2022-3, the Choir’s activities have included: the premiere of a new commission by baritone and composer Roderick Williams, the composer performing with the choir; concerts and services in London including at All Saints’, Margaret St, St Stephen Walbrook, and the Mercer’s Hall; a tour to Italy, performing with the professional baroque ensemble Orfeo Futuro, with members of the choir taking the solo parts; and recording for the soundtrack of a documentary about Cambridge.

Choir Membership

Choir members receive dinner in Hall twice a week in recognition of their commitment to the life of the College, as well as subsidised singing lessons, tours and other activities. If you would like to join the choir, there are two methods; University Choral Awards are available to College offer-holders before they arrive in Cambridge; Choral Volunteers may be appointed throughout the year and may be Members of other Colleges, enjoying much the same perks as Choral Scholars. Feel free to contact the Director of Music to arrange an audition or to discuss your options.

Organ Scholars

Organ Scholars at Magdalene receive subsidised lessons, and some of the finest rooms in College. Alongside the Precentor they help to run the College Choir, and have appropriately tailored opportunities to direct the Choir.

Many previous Organ Scholars from Magdalene are now active professional musicians around the world. The Director of Music is very happy to hear from any who are considering Organ Scholarships at Magdalene, and to offer advice and guidance on any aspect of the application process or life as an Organ Scholar at Magdalene.


The choir's most recent recording is Wolcum Yole!, which features Britten’s Ceremony of Carols alongside other festive music. We are delighted that the recording also features the Master, Dr Rowan Williams, reading poetry of his choice which reflects upon the music of the CD.

Previous recordings include

  • Garde ta Foy Music by Grieg, Rachmaninov, Britten, Purcell and Tallis.
  • How shall I sing that Majesty - Music by Parry, Tippett, Ireland, Howells, Weelkes and Blow.

The Organ

The College has an organ by Goetze and Gwynn in the Chapel, new in 2000, which has been acclaimed as one of the best neo-baroque organs in Cambridge.




Open Diapason 8'
Stop Diapason 8'
Principal 4'
Flute 4'
Twelfth 2 2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Sesquialtera III
Mixture II
Cornet IV
Trumpet 8'
Vox Humana 8

Open Diapason 8'
Stop Diapason 8'
Principal 4'
Nason Flute 4'
Nasard 2 2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Tierce 1 3/5'
Mixture III
Cromhorn 8'

Bourdon 16'
Open Diapason 8'
Principal 4'
Trumpet 8'

Couplers - Chair to Great; Great to Pedals; Chair to Pedals. Three mechanical composition pedals for each manual.

Manual compass: C - g3 Pedal compass: C - f1

The pitch is a1=421Hz. The tuning is Kellner's reconstruction of Bach's tuning for his Well-tempered Clavier.

The wind pressure is 2½" (63mm) for the manuals and 71mm for the pedal.

Maria durch ein Dornwald ging (arr. Stefan Claas)