On Saturday 4th May 2019, Winchester College Chapel Choir took part in an Amicabilis Concordia Evensong to mark the end of Stephen Cleobury’s tenure as Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge. For the Evensong and subsequent dinner, Chapel Choir joined the choirs of King’s College Cambridge, New College Oxford and Eton College.
The Amicabilis Concordia (literally the ‘friendly agreement’) was signed in 1444 between the four Colleges. Nowadays, a gathering of such a size is rare; the previous Evensongs involving all four choirs took place in 2005, 1992 (in honour of Julian Smith), and 1968.
For me, the highlight of the trip to Cambridge was the hour of rehearsal before Evensong. The opportunity to sing under the legendary direction of Dr Cleobury, and being part of such detailed and precise music-making, despite the size of the massed choir, was unforgettable. It was truly remarkable how focused Dr Cleobury’s rehearsal was and how the four choirs combined, under his guidance, with such ease. The Evensong that followed was suitably grand. The repertoire of Howells’ Collegium Regale (written for the choir of King’s) and Kenneth Leighton’s ‘Let All the World In Every Corner Sing’ allowed the massed choir, of roughly 150 singers, to fill the vast chapel with sound.
After this was a dinner in College Hall which featured a tribute to Dr Cleobury from Robert Quinney (Director of Music at New College). It was a thoroughly enjoyable way to finish the day.
In the words of Mr Ionascu, Director of Winchester’s Chapel Choir, ‘It was a day that will live long in the memories of all those who were present. And a fitting tribute to Stephen Cleobury’s long and distinguished career as Director of Music at King’s.’
Read more about the Amicabilis Concordia and other traditions at the school.
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10th June 2020
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