Music is a central part of our life here. We combine a commitment to the highest standards we can achieve but also seek to include all who want to participate, and we pride ourselves on our open and welcoming atmosphere.
Our choirs maintain a tradition of singing for services that has existed for centuries. Often they are joined by our orchestra, which also stages concerts throughout the year. Great St Mary’s and Michaelhouse are popular concert venues for outside groups: almost any size ensemble can be accommodated, as can even the biggest of audiences.
Great St Mary’s church has a dual role, as church to the University of Cambridge, and as a Greater Parish church in its own right. As a result, the church, unusually, boasts two fine pipe organs. The historic University Organ was built at the West End of the Church in 1698, and has since been expanded, most notably by William Hill in 1870. It was restored by Mander Organs in 1995. The Chancel is home to a three-manual organ by Kenneth Jones, completed in 1991. The two organs are used weekly in services, and also at our regular Tuesday Lunchtime Recital series. There is also a Yamaha upright piano which is frequently used in services and concerts. Michaelhouse, with its warm yet intimate acoustics is also home to a beautiful Kawai grand piano, much in demand for chamber music and solo recitals.
Choirs and Orchestra
Our Choral tradition is well-established. We offer opportunities for singers of all voice types from the age of five. Entry to the main choirs (for singers aged eight and above) is normally by short and friendly audition. No audition is needed for our youngest singers in the Junior Choir. The Director of Music, Sam Hayes, is always keen to hear from keen and committed singers interested in joining our community of music makers here. To read more about the choirs, please visit the choirs page.
The orchestra was founded by its conductor, Adam Pounds, in 2007. It performs four major concerts per year, plus a number of smaller, chamber music, baroque or light music concerts. Players are mainly drawn from across the city and University, but some come from further afield, attracted by our lively and varied repertoire. To read more about the orchestra, please visit the orchestra page.
Michaelhouse Chorale is a choir, open to all, which meets in Michaelhouse every Friday, between 2.30 and 3.30pm. It was founded in 2007, and is a joint venture between Michaelhouse and Arts and Minds, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation for Arts and Mental Health. For more information, follow this link to the Arts and Minds site.
During school term time, three choral services are held at Great St Mary’s or Michaelhouse each Sunday:
Parish Communion (Common Worship): 9.30am
Choral Mattins (BCP), or University Sermon: 11.15am
Choral Evensong (BCP), or other Evening Service: 5.30pm
Outside of school term time, these services are sung congregationally. During holiday periods (and at other times of the year too) we welcome visiting choirs to sing on Sundays (or during the week, by arrangement). For more information about bringing a choir to sing at Great St Mary’s or Michaelhouse, please see our Visiting Choirs page.
Regular Concerts and Recitals
Tuesdays at 1.00pm in Great St Mary’s.
For more information about upcoming recitals, please see the calendar on the home page, or visit the events page. If you would like to give a recital, contact the Music Department, on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are currently taking bookings for recitals in 2016, 2017 and beyond.
Chamber Music Concerts
Every third Saturday at 1pm in Michaelhouse.
The Orchestra and Choirs of Great St Mary’s present four large concerts a year, in March, June and September, with a Grand Christmas Concert, two Sundays before Christmas. There is also a programme of smaller concerts throughout the year. For more information, visit the Orchestra page.
Planning a concert at Great St Mary’s or Michaelhouse
If you would like to stage a concert of your own in one of our two beautiful churches, please contact the office at either Great St Mary’s (email@example.com), or Michaelhouse (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will be very happy to discuss arrangements and look forward to welcoming you!
Sam Hayes’s career in Church Music started at the age of fourteen, when he was appointed organist of his local church in Surrey. He went on to study Music at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar and, latterly, Director of Music in Chapel. He has also taught music for the University of Cambridge for ten years. He achieved the Associateship, Fellowship and Choral Directing Diplomas from the Royal College of Organists in the space of one year, and, in the latter, won both of the major prizes. He has held the post of Director of Music at Great St Mary’s since 2005 during which time the choirs have grown, and, alongside singing choral services each week, a regular pattern of concerts, national and international tours has been established. Sam is committed to new music and in 2011 conducted the world première of Graham Lack’s ‘The Angel of the East’ in Germany, and Oliver Rudland’s ‘The Owl who was afraid of the dark’ in Cambridge. Sam is Musician in Residence at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, where he also teaches A-level music. He teaches piano, organ and conducting privately, and when time permits, his other passions include restoring old instruments, walking, gastronomy and classic cars.
Organist and Assistant Director of Music
Music Department Admininistrator: Emma Dunn
Adam Pounds was born in London in 1954. As a student he studied at the London College of Music where his principal subjects were composition, classical guitar and oboe. He took conducting lessons from Christopher Fry and as his chief interest was composing he went on to receive composition lessons from Sir Lennox Berkeley as a private student. He later continued his studies at Goldsmith’s College, London where he achieved a B.Mus. In 2000, Adam moved to Cambridge and, after studying for a Masters degree at Trinity Hall, he formed the Orchestra of Great St. Mary’s (The University Church) in 2007.