There has always been a strong musical tradition at St Bride’s, and choral music is a vital and valued part of the life of our church. Our services involve the singing of a Mass setting every Sunday, together with motets that reflect the seasons of the church year. Hymns, psalms and various shorter liturgical items are also important parts of our services. The choir is a friendly, dedicated and talented group of voluntary singers, together with up to six choral scholars. Singers come from a range of backgrounds and are drawn together by a love of singing sacred music in its liturgical context.
What do we sing?
We sing at the Choral Eucharist every Sunday and for a service of Choral Evensong and Benediction on the third Sunday of every month (except during July and August). As well as the popular carol services at Advent and Christmas, we sing for weekday services such as Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday. In recent years we have celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi with members of other choirs, singing masses by Widor and Vierne, and on Easter Day we sing a Haydn or Mozart mass, accompanied by a string trio. Our repertoire covers Renaissance Masses and motets by Byrd and Palestrina to Viennese Masses by Mozart and Haydn and more modern settings by Darke and MacMillan. Our liturgy also involves the singing of plainsong and Anglican chant week by week. Please see our Music List page for details.
As well as singing the Sunday morning Mass settings, Psalms (generally to Anglican chant) and motets, the choir of St Bride’s is one of very few choirs to sing the weekly Mass Propers for the Liturgical Year from the English Gradual (Introit, Gradual, Alleluia/Tract, Offertory and Communion). These are settings of the Psalms and other texts from the Scriptures, using beautiful plainsong. A cantor and the choir take turns to sing the various parts of the text, in a responsorial style. This runs as a thread through the Choral Eucharist every Sunday morning, and provides a meditative backdrop to our worship.
In June 2018 the choir was joined by the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir to sing for BBC Radio Four Sunday Worship, which came live from St Bride’s. For the next few weeks this is available to listen to here. It is hoped that this will lead to more broadcasting opportunities for St Bride’s and the choir in the future!
These scholarships are worth up to £1000 per annum, for those under the age of 25 and/or in full-time education. St Bride’s offers a good grounding in choral singing and general musicianship, and a choral scholarship is ideal preparation for a university choral scholarship or further musical study. Opportunities are also available for those who wish to develop their organ playing or conducting skills within the context of the liturgy. Further details are available from the Director of Music, Alan Tavener (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Director of Music is always very pleased to hear from people by e-mail (email@example.com) and is generally available after Sunday morning services for an open audition or to talk more about singing at St Bride’s. We are always delighted to hear from people who are interested in joining our choir and contributing to our wonderful musical tradition so please feel most welcome to introduce yourself if you would like to know more!
Director of Music – Alan Tavener MA (Oxon), MSc
Alan recently joined St Bride’s from Jordanhill Parish Church, where he was Director of Music since moving to Scotland in 1980.
He is a music graduate of the University of Oxford (where he was Heberden Organ Scholar at Brasenose College and when he gained diplomas in organ performance and teaching) and an educational research graduate of the University Strathclyde (where he focussed on the social, educational and health benefits of singing), where he was also Director of Music with responsibility for teaching, the promotion of a professional concerts series, and the direction of a wide range of student choirs, orchestras and ensembles, including Strathclyde University Chamber Choir which he continues to direct, and which has toured many times in Europe and further afield, has undertaken recorded and live radio broadcasts, and has released a CD of Romantic Scottish part-songs.
As co-founder and Director of Cappella Nova, Alan has made 13 CDs, all world premiere recordings, and directed the premieres of more than 60 commissioned pieces including major works by Sir John Tavener, James MacMillan, Roxanna Panufnik and Gabriel Jackson. As well as directing Cappella Nova on stage and leading singing workshops for established choirs and other organisations, he has a pivotal role in the Company’s popular public workshop series and community choirs, spearheading its burgeoning education and outreach programme of classes and choirs in collaboration with Strathclyde University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, for whom he led a participative session at its 25th anniversary event ‘Celebrating Silver’, and leading the Scottish Plainsong Choir: a community project which explores liturgical music in historic venues and which regularly appears as a ‘backing group’ with Canty and Cappella Nova.
In recognition of his ground-breaking work in Scottish early choral music, in 2008 Alan was invited to direct a master-class for postgraduate choral conductors at the Moscow Conservatoire, since when he has mentored Apprentice Conductors for the Association of British Choral Directors, and led sessions at the Association’s annual Convention. In 2011 he presented a paper on the holistic benefits of group-singing activities at the annual Making Music Conference.
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