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The Choir

A recent Deanery survey highlighted seven parishes in the South Oxfordshire area that could boast the strong support of between 15 and 20 musicians (voice and instrument) on a weekly basis. We're pleased at St. Mary's to be included in this list having, as we do, a regular choir of 13-14 adults ably supported by 2 excellent organists.

Following the retirement of Peter Hunt, after 30 years as Choirmaster,Chris Devonport has now taken on the task of leading us, aswell as being church organist.Supported by our Vicar, who is keen to introduce new ideas in liturgical music, we have become diverse in our range of choral offerings. Peruvian or Russian Orthodox settings of the 'Gloria' sit happily alongside traditional anthems, hymns and responses. African songs (sung in Xhosa!) or theme songs from blockbuster movies are always popular at weddings and the traditional Carol Service at Christmas always sees the Church full to bursting. Choral evensongs have become a popular addition to our worship and we have been invited to sing at our benefice partner church at Berrick Salome as well as at other local parishes in the area.

On the first Sunday of each month, we have a Family Service at Chalgrove. Many members of the choir swap their robes for jeans and T-shirts and make up St. Mary's Band. Keyboards, Saxophone, Clarinet, Double Bass, Violin, Guitar and Drums certainly create a different atmosphere for this service and many visitors have said how much they enjoy it! The band has also provided backing for fund raising concerts and anybody who can play any instrument - yes, even the kazoo - is most welcome to come along. It's all great fun!

We meet for choir practice every Friday evening - in the Church during the summer months and in the John Hampden Hall during the winter months. Apart from a few weeks break in the summer, we provide regular cover for Sunday worship as well as weddings or special occasions throughout the year.

Although we meet regularly, there is no pressure to attend Sunday worship every week. As a 'sharing life' Parish Church, we are happy to share with those whose lifestyles only allow them limited free time on a Sunday. We are however, first and foremost, a Church Choir and our members are committed to the support of our Church and the local community. Although choir practice and other activities have been known to be imbued with a sense of riotous fun, we do believe that the gift of music is God given and we take a collective responsibility to share this gift in any way possible. We are affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music.

We are keen to encourage singers of all ages from 8 upwards, both girls and boys. If you are interested in joining our choir or want to find out more about what we do, please contact us through our
contacts page or call either our Choirmaster, Chris Devonport on 01865 891201 or our Vicar, Ian Cohen on 01865 890392.
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