Investing in our future
Our 12th C Church: St. Giles’ Church Oxford sits, as it has done for over 900 years, at the edge of the mediaeval city. Founded in 1120, it is almost as old as the University itself. It plays a central part in Oxford’s religious, social, civic, musical and cultural life. It provides a focus of Christian worship to visitors and local people, and in its outreach activities, such as the Gatehouse drop-in café for the homeless and vulnerable.
A long tradition of liturgical music making: St Giles’ is also renowned for its long history of outstanding, inclusive musical performance and education. We are committed to safeguarding the future of church music. Choral music is an integral part of the liturgies and life of St Giles’, with four well-established choirs that include a growing number of musicians (currently 35 young musicians, singing alongside more experienced adults):
- A choir of boys and men;
- A choir for young people;
- A girls’ choir; and
- The St Giles’ Singers – consisting of experienced adult singers.
A choir for young people: There is a separate training group, the Schola Cantorum, for teenagers with changing voices who sing services with one of the choirs. This provides a home for our former choristers, and attracts those who were not trebles at St Giles’. The choirs lead the church’s worship on rotation, alongside a rich programme of local, national and international concerts – an unparalleled provision in a small parish church.
Music teaching – practice and theory: It is also home to a music academy educating young musicians (many of whom sing in our choirs) in advanced music theory, organ, piano and vocal training. We work in partnership with young people and educators in local schools to ensure these extensive opportunities are available to all. In particular, the church is becoming a centre for organ studies, and, at present, 7 of our young singers and organ students hold scholarships funded by the Young Organ Scholar Trust. An outreach programme is being developed with local schools to promote organ studies. One organ has already been installed in a local state school.
Our 900+ years: To mark the church’s 900th birthday in 2020, we initiated a project to ensure that we are equipped with the tools required to extend an outstanding training in sacred music to the people of Oxford, irrespective of background. Despite deferring our planned activities because of the pandemic, some amazing financial commitments to the project have already been made. Now, in 2021, we want to realise our target.
A new organ: At the centre of this project is a new organ – a critical tool for education in this endangered art, vital for leading the musical and educational life of our flourishing church, and essential as a replacement for our existing worn-out instrument. Other changes are also planned, to improve the facilities needed for us to deliver our spiritual, educational and social objectives.
Why not ‘Sponsor a Pipe‘ now to get us well on the road to our new organ!