Three world premieres in Andrew Nethsingha’s final term as Director of Music at Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge


Andrew Nethsingha conducting the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge © Benjamin Ealovega

Andrew Nethsingha and the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, will present three world premieres from Jonathan DoveIain Farrington and David Nunn this Michaelmas term, Andrew’s final with the choir before he moves to his new post as Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey. Having commissioned numerous new works during his time at St John’s, Andrew has consistently supported composers both new and established with commissions and performances in his fifteen-year tenure.  

The choir will premiere a brand-new St John’s Service from acclaimed composer Jonathan Dove, commissioned by Dr Kamal and Mrs Anna Ahuja in memory of Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, who was Master of the College between 2007 and 2019. A new setting of the evening canticles, the piece is an important addition to the repertoire that the choir perform on a daily basis in their evensong services. Dove joins an eminent list of composers who have also composed services for St John’s, including Herbert Howells, Judith Weir, Michael Tippett and Julian Anderson. [15 October]

The choir will also premiere a new work, Nova! Nova!, by composer and former St John’s Organ Scholar Iain Farringtonin their famous Advent Carol Services this November. Farrington’s work has been featured at both the First and Last Night of the Proms, as well as the recent Earth Prom, and he’s also known for performing piano with Rowan Atkinson and the London Symphony Orchestra in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The service on Sunday 27 November will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. [26 & 27 November]

The first premiere this term is oh pristine example by composer David Nunn, written for choir and electronic sound. This is not the first time Nunn has written for the choir, and also not the first time incorporating electronic sound – his piece Sitivit anima mea was premiered by the choir in 2018 whilst David was still a Cambridge undergraduate. [7 & 29 October].

Andrew Nethsingha, Director of Music at St John’s College Cambridge, said: “It is very important for each generation of church musicians to keep refreshing and adding to the repertoire. This term’s new commissions will also be recorded for future album releases, including a disc of 21st century anthems. We are privileged to have so many outstanding composers writing for us, and I am immensely grateful to all those whose financial generosity has enabled these projects to come to fruition.”

The choir also perform previous commissions this term, including Judith Weir’s St John’s Service [8 October], Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Lo! The desert depths are stirr’d [20 October] and Philip Moore’s St John’s Service [12 November]. Former BBC Young Musician finalist and Cambridge alumna Sophie Westbrooke also joins the choir to play recorder for performances of her piece Quiet Stream, commissioned by the choir in 2020 [12 October & 9 November]. Outside of Cambridge, the choir will also perform festive favourites at Birmingham Symphony Hall with organist Thomas Trotter [5 December].

Details of services can be found on the Choir of St John’s website; services are also available to listen to online via webcast.