Spem in Alium by Candlelight
Tallis – Spem in alium
Brahms – Geistliches Lied
Bruckner – Motets
Schubert – Mass in G
Choir of Somerville College, Oxford
Benjamin Goodson Conductor
The Lea Singers are a Harpenden-based chamber choir of 30 singers. Their aims are to achieve high standards of singing and performance, and to contribute to the local community. In 2014 they launched a Summer Singing Festival, to create an event where local singers meet, discover and sing together.
Their annual programme typically includes 6-8 concerts in the Harpenden area and further afield, a cathedral tour, open singing days and the occasional recording. The singers come from a wide range of musical backgrounds and have a thriving interns scheme for talented singers from local schools.
Over their 50 year history, the Leas have sung under 11 permanent conductors and many guests, each of whom has made a distinctive contribution to their style and repertoire. In December 2011 they appointed Benjamin Goodson to take up the baton.
The Choir of Somerville College, in its present form, was founded by Francis Knights (Director of Chapel Music) and Sam Bayliss (Organ Scholar/College Organist) in 2001. The choir sings in the college chapel every Sunday during term and performs regularly in concerts organised by Somerville Music Society. Since 2015 the choir has been conducted by Benjamin Goodson (Director of Chapel Music).
In recent years the choir has sung services and concerts at Worcester, Southwark, Winchester, Wells, Blackburn, Coventry and St. Paul’s cathedrals. In 2005 and 2009 the choir toured Germany under the patronage of Sir Peter Torry, the British ambassador to Germany, and sang services and concerts in Berlin, Potsdam and Brandenburg. A third foreign tour took the choir to Italy where the group performed in Milan, Crema and Lodi.
The choir has been involved in two opera productions (Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice) as well as high-profile concerts in Oxford, Brighton, Swindon and Upton. In 2009/2010 the choir appeared in a memorial concert for Iris Murdoch, performed Händel’s Messiah in Oxford and gave a performance of John Tavener’s Song for Athene in the presence of the composer. In 2010/2011 Somerville Choir performed Bach’s St John Passion and recorded its first commercial CD Requiem æternam (Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem and Robin Milford’s Mass for Five Voices) which was released by Stone Records in August 2012. The album features internationally acclaimed soloists Christine Rice (mezzo-soprano), Mark Stone (baritone) and Guy Johnston (cello).
In 2011/2012 the choir performed Bach’s Easter cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden and Schubert’s Mass in G with a professional orchestra and sang evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. The choir also toured Lancashire, singing concerts at Blackburn Cathedral and Lancaster Priory.
Engagements in 2012/2013 included two further performances at St. Paul’s Cathedral, a concert at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London as well as the recording sessions for our second CD, Advent Calendar, which was released in autumn 2013. The Choir of Somerville College also participated in Britten in Oxford’s Writing for Voices, a project run in collaboration with JAM, and made an appearance on BBC Radio 3.
In 2014 sang evensong at Coventry Cathedral and gave two performances of Bach’s St. John Passion featuring a professional orchestra and soloists from the Royal College of Music. After the end of Trinity Term the choir undertook a tour of the USA, singing services and concerts at Washington National Cathedral and the National City Church in Washington DC as well as several venues in Delaware and Massachusetts.
In December 2011 The Lea Singers chose Benjamin Goodson as their eleventh conductor.
As well as the Lea Singers’ conductor, Benjamin is Director of Chapel Music at Somerville College, Oxford, musical director of the award-winning Bath Camerata and chorus master at Dorset Opera Festival. He is in demand as a guest conductor in the UK and abroad, and in 2017 makes his debut as chorus master at the Netherlands Reisopera.
Upcoming engagements span choral, orchestral and operatic repertoire from the 16th century to the present day. Highlights of the current season include Bach Matthew and John Passions, Elgar Dream of Gerontius, Handel Dixit Dominus, Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin and Verdi Macbeth.
Educated at Hertford College, Oxford, Benjamin won Oxford University’s most coveted conducting prize. He has studied conducting with Paul Spicer (Finzi Singers), Peter Stark (RCM), Colin Metters (RAM), Neil Thomson and John Farrer (LCW), and Ulrich Windfuhr (Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg).