The Cathedral Singers of St Andrew & St Michael, formerly incorporating the Odeion Choir, was founded by the Reverend Simon Aiken & Lance Phillip in 2009. In its previous incarnation, the choir acted as the training ensemble for undergraduate and postgraduate Choral Studies students at the University of the Free State. It is now affiliated to Bloemfontein Anglican Cathedral. At present the choir consists mainly of students and staff of the University of the Free State.
At its founding, the Cathedral Singers consisted of about 6 singers, although this grew rapidly, and membership now stands at about 18. The choir has performed Mozart’s Missa brevis in D, Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Fauré’s Requiem both in concert and liturgically. In 2010, the choir sang Mozart’s Spatzenmesse, directed by Werner Stander. Smaller works included excerpts from Palestrina’s Requiem (1591) and Sicut cervus, Lotti’s Missa brevis in D minor, Rheinberger’s Abendlied, Stanford’s Blue Bird, Harris’ Behold the tabernacle and Dyson’s Canticles in C minor. The choristers are especially fond of the music of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and so this composer’s Magnificat & Nunc dimittis settings in B-flat and C, the Te Deum in B-flat, as well as the anthem Ye choirs of new Jerusalem are performed regularly; Dietrich Buxtehude’s Passiontide cantata cycle Membra Jesu nostri also receives annual performances. Mozart’s Missa ad honorem sanctissimae Trinitatis, William Byrd’s Mass for four voices and Louis Vierne’s Messe solennelle were highlights of 2013, as was a service of Choral Evensong on St Bartholomew’s Day, jointly sung with the Chanticleer Singers, and conducted by Richard Cock. In 2015 the Choir participated in a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina burana, with the Free State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Fokkens. In 2017 the Choir programmed three anthems by Mendelssohn to commemorate the 170th year of his death, including the celebrated Hear my prayer, which was accompanied by Hans-Jürgen Kaiser, organist of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Fulda in Germany. In July of the same year, it participated in an award-winning performance of Mozart’s Requiem at the Bloemfontein Arts Festival conducted by Louis van der Watt, together with cantando@bloem & the Odeion Camerata. In late November, the Cathedral Singers again collaborated with the FSSO (conducted by Alexander Fokkens) of Fauré’s Requiem and John Rutter’s Feel the Spirit. In 2018, highlights included a performance of Louis Vierne’s Messe solennelle as part of the Odeion’s annual Arnold Bosman Memorial Concert, and Handel’s Messiah with the FSSO. In May the choir undertook its first tour, singing a full programme of secular & sacred works (including Fauré’s Requiem) at the Church of St Michael & All Angels, in Himeville, KZ Natal; the next morning (Trinity Sunday), the Choir sang the music in the mass at that church). Other guest conductors have included Gordon Appleton, Geoffrey Webber & Branko Starck. Apart from concert engagements, the Cathedral Singers’ principal function is the singing of Choral Evensong on Sundays during term; this liturgical training provides an opportunity for members (many of them future professional musicians) to learn to cope with the demands of regular choral performance. Because of the nature of these services the music is overwhelmingly English, but the general repertoire of the choir includes those of European and other important composers.
At present, the Director of Music is Lance Phillip, the Assistant Director is Werner Stander, and the organists are Lourie Coetzee and Maretha Krige.