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2017 Choral Institute at Oxford
July 4–13, 2017
James Jordan and James Whitbourn, Co-Directors

A collaboration between Westminster Choir College of Rider University and St. Stephen’s House, a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford

NOTE: ALL Full Conductor positions have been filled for 2017.
Please consider joining CIO as a Conducting Associate.

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Announcing the Guest Faculty for 2017 Choral Institute at Oxford!

Bob Chilcott (composer/conductor)
Tim Whiteley (Cinquecento)
Stephen Darlington (Christ Church)
Edward Higginbottom (Emeritus Professor of Choral Music)
Robert Quinney (New College)
Mark Williams (Magdalen College) 
Ayla LePine (art historian)
James Potter (Christ Church Cathedral Singers)
Mark Moliterno 

2017 International Choral Festival

Between Silence and Light
Westminster Williamson Voices • James Jordan
SJE Arts, St Stephen’s House, Oxford
Saturday 8 July, 2017, 7.30 pm


“They get to conduct Williamson Voices, something of a Rolls-Royce of a choir we would say, and a group of wonderful people who understand the need for conductors to learn and who are so helpful and accommodating and musically first-class…”
“The Choral Institute has had a profound impact on me and I am confident it will continue to be a safe haven for conductors, educators, and singers for many years to come.”
“I have attended virtually every program for conducting study in this country. The Choral Music Institute at Oxford is better than all of them combined! The experience of this place and this choir and this faculty has changed my life.”
"James Jordan and James Whitbourn have a unique method of igniting the passion in their choirs that translate wonderfully into vibrant, moving performances. Their approach is more complete, methodological and scientific than most instrumental conducting teachers. The Choral Institute immersed me into the rich cultural traditions of Oxford and helped me identify my own role in the great evolution of human artistic expression. Though it was primarily geared towards the choral genres, I found the course was invaluable to help me inspire instrumentalists to sing through their instruments."  
"The Choral Institute has had a profound impact on me and I am confident it will continue to be a safe haven for conductors, educators, and singers for many years to come."  
"Each summer, the Westminster Williamson Voices, a select ensemble from Westminster Choir College, is the choir in residence at  Oxford. As the choir in residence, they are the laboratory at the Choral Institute group for twenty-four conductors and conducting associates who come to hone their technique. Nowhere is critical pedagogy for music education more evident than in the ten days of interaction and collaboration among the choir and the conductors. By the end of the Institute, the choir and the conductors have become one, supporting and nurturing each other in service to the music in ways that words can’t describe. Applying technical vocabulary, the singers and conductors acquire "musical agency". And while James Jordan and James Whitbourn, who coordinate the conducting instruction, may not identify themselves as critical pedagogues, they are the quintessential examples of transformative teaching. All leave the Institute with a changed vision of how their individual music making contributes to a new vision of themselves in the world that is unique and enhanced. James Jordan’s teaching has always been infused with the Music Learning Theory of Edwin Gordon; and to anyone who knows Gordon’s work, that is evident when watching Jordan teach and conduct. However, the combination of Music Learning Theory with a critical pedagogy perspective is a magical combination that fosters musical agency; nurtures the acquisition of a critical consciousness; and changes the lives of the conductors, choir, and audience."
– Frank Abrahams
Professor of Music Education
Westminster Choir College


Watch our video to hear more from other past participates.

The Choral Institute at Oxford Overview

A unique partnership with St Stephen's House, one of the halls of Oxford University, and Westminster Choir College, proudly offer a unique Choral Institute in the vibrant and beautiful city of Oxford, England. The Institute is designed to provide instruction to all levels of conductors within a fully residential Oxford college. The Choral Institute at Oxford is a residential course with meals taken in the college's dining room and accommodation provided in the former monastic buildings of the 19th-century Cowley Fathers, now occupied by St Stephen's House and much loved by C.S. Lewis, a former Fellow of nearby Magdalen College.

Participants will experience first hand an educational experience that is unique to Oxford University. That experience, one of total immersion in a residential college, will expose participants to an intense and exciting educational atmosphere.  In addition to studying conducting and aspects of the choral art that will build musicianship in each participant regardless of prior experience levels, participants will become immersed in a community of musicians and faculty.

Full Conductors and Conducting Associates alike will engage in an immersive study of choral conducting and choral artistry, building musicianship and technique. All participants work closely with Program Directors James Jordan and James Whitbourn.

Full Conductors gain practical conducting experience and tuition at the podium, conducting the Choir of the Choral Institute at Oxford - whose singers are drawn from the GRAMMY-nominated ensemble Williamson Voices -  within the beautiful acoustics of the chapels of St. Stephen’s House.

Conducting Associates 
The Conducting Associates program at the Choral Institute at Oxford offers a unique opportunity for musicians to study the philosophy, skills and techniques of choral conducting with world-renowned teachers in an environment ideally suited to the study and performance of choral music. Students learn through participation of all classes and lectures, through observational analysis of conducting masterclasses with a Grammy-nominated choir and through bespoke, practical conducting workshops.

The program for Conducting Associates is identical to that of the Full Conductors aside from the level of participation in the Practical Conducting seminars. All CIO students - Full Conductors and Conducting Associates alike - use observation and analysis of other CIO students as part of their own study. For all, observation of the faculty's teaching and of the artistic growth of other conductors brings focus to the development of their own musical growth. Additionally, the Full Conductors experience first hand the sonic response to their gesture and musical presence by conducting a first class choir in an outstanding environment. For the Conducting Associates, this element is replaced with additional conducting workshops given by members of CIO faculty, tailor-made to meet the particular needs of the group or individuals. These can include practical conducting opportunities, working with a pianist rather than a choir.

The CIO places much importance of the conductor's need for a thorough understanding of the music that is being performance and its wider context. It places as much emphasis on the preparation and study of musical style and of individual scores as on the implication of gesture. All CIO students therefore attend the study lectures delivered by key members of the Faculty of Music at Oxford University and by other guest lecturers. In past years, stimulating seminars, rehearsals and lectures by Edward Higginbottom, Stephen Darlington, Daniel Hyde, and Robert Quinney have been highlights of the CIO.

Associates can absorb and analyse the components which create the sound, artistry, and spirit of the Grammy-nominated Williamson Voices. Many from past years have treasured the inspiration and wisdom garnered from these singers and have taken back that knowledge for use with their own choirs.

Meals and tea breaks are taken together and these times often provide opportunities for further discussion of the day's events in the relaxed surroundings of the college dining hall or common room, or during a stroll round the college's beautiful cloister.

Conducting Associates are under the tutelage of one of Westminster’s most inspirational teachers, Steven Pilkington in addition to the CIO Directors and other CIO faculty. Dr. Pilkington’s lectures and insights are one of the annual highlights of CIO. The beautiful atmosphere of St. Stephen’s House experienced by all is conducive to quiet personal study.

Three text books support the teaching format of the CIO, working with sound that is reactive and reflective not only of the conductor’s gesture but also of spirit. The texts, Discovering Chant, Sound as Teacher and Conductor as Prism (James Jordan, GIA) were written to document and explain the magic that happens at CIO when, as the one text says "sound becomes teacher". To be able to observe, assimilate, experience and process is an educational opportunity that many past participants choose as their course of study either before returning as a full conductor or simply as part of their own process of learning.

The Conducting Associate program is open to all levels of conductors. All participants receive a formal Certificate of Completion signed by the CIO faculty at the conclusion of the course. Conducting Associates can enroll in the CIO for graduate credit.

For information about registration contact Marci Risch [email protected]For information about the program contact James Jordan at [email protected]; Conductors enrolled in the program should feel free to contact Jonathan Palmer Lakeland at [email protected] concerning any aspects of the program after enrollment is completed.

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