A centenary concert to mark 100 years of music publishing
On a wintry November evening, in the chapel at Merton College, Oxford, we hosted a concert to commemorate 100 years of music publishing at Oxford University Press (OUP).
Surrounded by candlelight, Christmas trees, and carols, Merton’s chapel was the perfect setting to celebrate this historic event, and to recognise the people who have played an important role in the success of Oxford’s Music department, since Hubert Foss founded it in 1923.
By featuring music at the concert from across the department’s 100-year history but with a focus on recent publishing, we sought to showcase music that is not only inspired by our heritage but that celebrates excellence and reflects the world around us.
The evening’s programme included works from many of the talented composers published by OUP including B. E. Boykin, James Whitbourn, Cecilia McDowall, Reena Esmail, Bob Chilcott, Christopher Harris, Kim Porter and John Rutter, who conducted one of his best-loved carols, Star Carol, inviting the audience to join in with the chorus.
We were delighted to see so many of our composers at the concert, along with other guests such as Diana Sparkes, daughter of Hubert Foss; Carols for Choirs 6 co-editors, Bob Chilcott and David Hill; and OUP colleagues and business partners (printers, retailers, digital platforms and more).
“The success of OUP Music will always be built upon the composers with whom we work, and it was special that we could bring together so many of them in the audience. It was a reminder of the strong relationships we’ve built over the years, with many travelling from the furthest corners of the UK, and one composer even coming from the USA for the event.”
A carol concert wouldn’t be complete without a choir (or two), and we were honoured to hear London Voices and The Choir of Merton College sing to the highest standard. We also hosted a choir of children from local schools who are part of the Oxford Bach Choir Schools Choral Programme, which saw 100 talented voices raising the roof singing Bob Chilcott’s Rhythm. This piece was made freely available as part of our Song for All initiative, in which we invited choirs worldwide to sing on the same day and upload their performances online.
The evening also provided us with the opportunity to launch our latest volume in the Carols for Choirs series, Carols for Choirs 6 – perhaps to be known in the future as ‘the purple book’, just as the first Carols for Choirs book is affectionately known as ‘the green book’. To highlight its publication, speeches were made in the antechapel by John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, David Hill, and Head of Publishing at OUP, Robyn Elton, who led the project.
The Centenary Concert was the perfect opportunity to bring together members of OUP’s community, reflect on our milestones, and look forward to the next 100 years and beyond of music publishing at OUP.