John Loughborough Pearson's architectural designs for St Alban's made special provision for the presence of a choir, and it is no surprise that the acoustics of the church make singing and musical performance at St Alban's a joy. In particular, the high nave and wide chancel provide an impressive cathedral-like setting and acoustic for visiting choirs and recording artists as well as St Alban's own choir, who are privileged to perform here every week.
St Alban's is fortunate to have a committed mixed-voice choir who sing each Sunday at the 10.00 a.m. Solemn Mass, and at special holy day Masses which fall during the week. In addition to leading the hymns and plainchant Propers, the choir try to provide a choral Mass setting each week from a repertoire that, following the traditional Anglo-Catholic worship of the church, includes much early music. The choir also normally sings a motet at each Mass, again drawing repertoire from St Alban's extensive library of early music and traditional Anglo-Catholic works.
Mass settings include Haydn's Little Organ Mass, Byrd's Mass for Four Voices, Sumsion's Mass in F and Wood's Mass in the Phrygian Mode. In March 2000 our Evensong at St Philip's Cathedral included Purcell's Evening Service in G Minor and Byrd's Ave Verum.
In the past the annual St Alban's festival has provided a number of opportunities for choral performance, including Elgar's O Salutaris and [de Sévérac's] Tantum Ergo at Compline. In 1999, liturgical works performed included Howell's Jubilate and Brewer's Evening Service.
St Alban's choir has made an important contribution to musical performance locally, performing liturgical music to a high standard in its true context and setting. New singers are always made welcome in the choir, and we are always interested in hearing from singers who would like to join us or learn more about our music. Rehearsals are held on Friday evenings at 7.30 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 9.30 a.m. prior to the 10.00 a.m. Mass.
Although choir numbers have fallen, new members are now joining and it is hoped to build the choir back up to strength.
2013 saw the appointment of a new Director of Music, and a major effort is being made to attract even more new members to fill the stalls. It is realised that the Liturgy and building together form a unique and most favourable environment to enable choir members to enjoy the performance of church music. In addition, during 2014 we have been very fortunate to obtain on permanent loan an early 19th century manually pumped chamber organ, which will be used to accompany some of our early music settings.
We have also recently appointed one of our choir members as organ scholar, and she now regularly assists the Director of Music by providing organ accompaniment for the Mass settings and anthems. We are thus assembling a strong base on which to build and maintain our musical tradition.
If you are interested in joining the choir and experiencing the thrill of singing in this cathedral-like building and supporting the rich Anglo-Catholic liturgy each Sunday, or would like to find out more, please contact the Vicar Fr Gerry Sykes, Phone: 0121 440 0404, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.