The choir’s repertoire is both wide and varied, and has been enriched by a succession of distinguished organists and directors of music. In recent years, these have included the composer and conductor Ryan Wigglesworth, Mathew Martin (Assistant Master of Music, Westminster Cathedral), and Matthew Halls (Artistic Director, The King’s Consort / Retrospect Ensemble). The current Director of Music is Gulliver Ralston.
The choir’s flexible size enables it to perform music from the Fourteenth Century to the present day, and it is adventurous in its programming, balancing new and unfamiliar works with the traditional cathedral repertory. If you are interested in singing at St. Mary’s, please contact the Director of Music.
Conductor and musicologist Gulliver Ralston is Director of Music at Oxford’s University Church and Director of Music at the University of Roehampton. Gulliver studied music as a choral scholar at New College, moving to St. Peter’s College to write his doctorate on Richard Wagner with Roger Allen and the philosopher Roger Scruton. He teaches nineteenth and twentieth-century music history at Oxford, where he is also tutor for the Sarah Lawrence Programme at Wadham College. He has lectured for the Royal Academy of Arts and the Oxford Lieder Festival, and has written for The New Culture Forum, Literary Review, Eighteenth Century Music, Early Music, and Wagner. In his former life as a countertenor, he recorded CDs of Gombert, Manchicourt, Crecquillon, and Clemens non Papa with The Brabant Ensemble.
Gulliver works extensively with young voices. As Director of the three Hildegard Choirs, his recording of newly discovered works by Vaughan Williams and Liszt received glowing reviews from The Liszt Society and The Classical Review. He also directs the university choirs at Roehampton University and is director of the community choral society, The All Saints’ Singers. He gives frequent workshops for choirs, and was invited by the Zimbabwe Academy of Music in Bulawayo to work with over 1600 children in Zimbabwe.
Gulliver has also been assistant conductor with the National Orchestra of Lebanon, the National Orchestra of Malta, The Band of Instruments, and musical director for productions of Handel and Gretel, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le nozze di Figaro, La Bohème and Eight Songs for a Mad King.
Gulliver has a love of cabaret, in particular the songs of Gershwin, Noel Coward, Tom Lehrer, Ivor Novello and Jacques Brel. As pianist, he has performed with Peter Straker at the Edinburgh Festival Frings (5*), Brighton Festival Fringe, Leicester Square Theatre, the London Film Museum and the St. James Theatre in Westminster. His double-acts with baritone Colin Baldy - Noel Coward at the Cafe de Paris and Mrs Worthington and Friends - have taken him to the Aldeburgh Festival, Bletchley Park, Fairfield Halls, the Mananan International Festival, The Theatre Royal Margate, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle. The two also performed most of the works of Noel Coward whilst sailing from Madeira to Mumbai via the Suez Canal. With mezzo-soprano Fiona MacDonald, he is a regular performer at the New Year's Eve celebrations in Egypt, for the charity The Afghanistan Trust, and for the American Consulate in Edinburgh.