The chapel of Keble College is arguably the most distinctive in Oxford. Even from the exterior, one is immediately struck by its red brick and contrasting banding patterns. And once one steps inside, the level of detail is almost overwhelming. The chapel, like the rest of the original college facilities, was the brainchild of architect William Butterfield. Construction on the chapel was begun in 1873 thanks to the patronage of William Gibbs (the chapel being the first of three buildings at Keble funded by his family). It was then dedicated three years later on St. Mark’s Day (also John Keble’s birthday) 1876.
The inside of Butterfield’s masterpiece is a whirlwind of color and geometry, but certainly not at the expense of religious artistry (it is Anglican, after all, not Calvinist). Repeated patterns are everywhere, and mosaic details below the clerestory level and around the reredos are stunning. It is easy to see how one might be distracted by all of the artistic interest surrounding worshipers.
Perhaps one of the greatest architectural details of the chapel is not the visual element, but the acoustic. The space envelops the congregation in a wash of lush, warm tones. The choir and organ certainly do their fair share to help with this. The choir is often regarded as one of the best non-professional choirs of Oxford.
The organ at Keble is, despite its appearance, is the newest at the university. It was built by Kenneth Tickell and Company of Northampton and installed in 2011. The façade of the organ remains from the previous instrument installed when the chapel was built. The style of the instrument is decidedly English, and it speaks with a warm clarity into the space which mesmerizes the senses. The Great principal chorus, grounded by two Open Diapason ranks, is lush and strong; the solo Posaune, powerful and piercing enough to recapture people wantering attention.
The combined choir of the Church of the Incarnation is certainly among the finest in the area, and its members are workhorses throughout the year in that they sing three services every week, at least two of which are totally different from one another. It is among the few in Dallas to sing Anglican chant, and the only one to sing choral evensong weekly. As if all of that weren’t enough, the choir occasionally host concerts and other special events. Concerts are a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the choir without the confines of the liturgy.
Come see why this choir has earned an international reputation for excellence! The final concert of the 2012-13 season is this Friday, May 17, at 7pm at the Church of the Incarnation. The program will include works by Tallis, Bruckner, Finzi, and Howells, among others. The suggested donation at the door is $10, and proceeds will go toward funding the choir’s next recording and tour. For more information, please visit the church’s website by clicking here.
As for the next tour, there are new details available. Rather than the originally planned tour of England (Gloucester Cathedral and Westminster Abbey), a domestic tour is now planned. While the schedule is not finalized, the tour will begin with a week spent in residence at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC (a return home for organist/choirmaster Scott Dettra). From there, the choir will make its way up to New York where they will sing at Saint Thomas Church (5th Avenue). An intervening stop as well as a locale for evensong in New York are in the works. This is an excellent opportunity to promote the choir and the parish domestically. The following tour will be planned for 2016 and will involve a trip across the pond.
Whilst in Oxford, it appears I will have the pleasure of worshiping in this glorious space (among many others). Construction was begun on the chapel in 1639, but it was not until 20 March 1666 that is was finally dedicated, thanks in large part to the English Civil War. Surprisingly the chapel had no organ until 1863. The current instrument by Walker dates to 1955. Sadly, the organ is not used nearly as often as its cousins in the other collegiate chapels of Oxford as the chapel only plays host to one sung service per week. Nonetheless, this will be my first stop on my tour of sacred spaces in Oxford.
I think I could get used to coming “home” to this every evening! Say hello to University College, the oldest of Oxford’s 46 colleges and halls. I think that Oxford may be something of an overload for me considering all of the exciting things to see and do. Just touring colleges alone will be more than I can manage. But the best places to find me will probably be Christ Church Cathedral, Magdalen College, Keble College, and Pusey House.
Hi everyone! I just want to fill you in on some of the most recent news in my life. Today was my last day of finals, so I am now officially done with the spring semester. But just because summer is here does not mean that I get to slow down. All evidence to the contrary! While I will continue living in Dallas this summer, it will not be a vacation. I now have a permanent job in real estate plus an internship with a non-profit startup. Both of them will keep me more than occupied.
For those of you who know me (or particularly those who have seen my home’s decór), you must know that I am quite the anglophile. Well God save the Queen, because I’m going to England this summer to study abroad. I’ll be taking two history courses at Oxford University. My goal is for this trip to be my first major blog project, so I hope that everyone will enjoy it. I will take plenty of photos, and I suspect I will to a bit of running about in the UK, and possibly on the continent. Austria has been suggested, but that remains to be seen. Whatever the case, I will be sure to leave things here for all to see. I look forward to sharing another chapter of my story with you!