Classical music plays an important part in the life of Malmesbury Abbey and we have an enthusiastic mixed choir of over twenty five adults. The Organist and Director of Music is John Hughes LRAM ARCM ARCO MA (Cantab) who has served in this role for 40 years.
The fully robed Abbey choir leads the worship at our 10.30am Holy Communion on the first three Sundays of the month and also at our 6.30pm Choral Evensong on the fourth Sunday of the month, which attracts a loyal congregation from across North Wiltshire. Each year the evensongs explore a unifying theme. During 2014 they sang music that prayerfully reflected on humanity’s desire for reconciliation to God and to one another as they marked the 100th anniversary of WW1. In 2015 they sang settings of the Psalms by Parry, Purcell, Tye, James MacMillan and many others. In 2016 the Abbey choir highlighted the music of Tomás Luis de Victoria across the year and introducing music by Morales, Purcell, Ola Gjielo and Jonathan Dove. At Advent & Christmas 2016 the Abbey Choir gave the world premiere of The Malmesbury Motets by Nico Muhly.
Having 2012 pipes, the organ at Malmesbury Abbey was built in 1985 by EJ Johnson of Cambridge and has two manuals and pedals with mechanical tracker action. Often known as the ‘Little Giant’, the organ has a considerable reputation and many fine organists have given recitals, including James McVinnie who performed Bach, Muhly and Messiaen in Advent 2016.
During Holy Week the Abbey Choir always performs a Devotional Concert with readings from the gospels at 6.30pm on Good Friday. In past years the music has included Mozart’s Requiem, Lauriden’s Lux Aeterna, Faure’s Requiem, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary and Allegri’s Miserere. In 2023 the choir are planning to sing the Requiem by John Rutter.
If you are interested in an informal conversation about joining the Abbey Choir, please contact the parish office, who will give your details to John Hughes.