The Choir of St Mary the Virgin, Nottingham is acclaimed as one of the finest Anglican church choirs in the country. Renowned for its versatility and wide repertoire it performs music from plainsong through to world premieres. As well as performing music for liturgical use, the choir regularly undertakes large scale works from Monteverdi’s Vespers to Verdi’s Requiem. Typically, the choir sings three services a week (Wednesday Evensong (6:15pm), Sunday Eucharist (10:45am) and Sunday Evensong (6:30pm) as well as regular concerts throughout the year, upholding a tradition of outstanding choral music in Nottingham. Services are now regularly broadcast from the website homepage, and you can listen to recent services again here.
The choir has made a number of recordings over recent years including Mater Christi, a disc of Marian motets produced by Regent Records (2015) and A St Mary’s Christmas, a disc of sacred and secular music for Christmas (2017). Beyond Nottingham, the choir has sung in Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral and toured across Europe, most recently to France, Italy and Germany. Broadcasts include Sunday Half-Hour and In Praise of God for BBC World Service, Radio 4’s The Daily Service and Sunday Worship, BBC Radio Nottingham’s annual Carol Service and BBC 1’s Songs of Praise.
Praise for St Mary’s Choir
Choir & Organ – Mater Christi: Marian Motets
“This enterprising CD from John Keys and the Choir of St Mary the Virgin, Nottingham, offers a selection of over 400 years of Marian motets, from Lassus to Tavener and Pärt. It provides a suitable showcase for the choir’s versatility, whose warm, generous and well-disciplined sound is finely moulded by Keys… A thoroughly enjoyable and well-varied programme.”
Nottingham Evening Post – Bach’s St John Passion
“St Mary’s Choir… brought out the solemnity, emotion and drama of Bach’s retelling of the Passion narrative… Sensitivity to the text was always to the fore, in the rich choral textures as well as in the fine solo interpretations by members of the Choir.”
Nottingham Evening Post – Handel’s Te Deum
“Energetic, committed singing brought out the prevailing mood of celebration, juxtaposed effectively with more reflective sections”
Nottingham Evening Post – Mozart’s Requiem
“Whether expressing a tender lament or dramatic foreboding, the voices were skilfully balanced and blended”
Church Times – Biber’s Missa Salisburgensis
“A superbly motivated performance, utterly true to the work: an hour of exhilaration”
Nottingham Evening Post – John Sheppard 450th Anniversary Concert
“The pauses in this richly woven music were as beautifully judged as the notes, making it an experience beyond time and space.”
Director of Music
John Keys, Director of Music and the Arts, was appointed in May 1984, shortly before gaining 1st prize in the 4th Manchester International Organ Competition. Organ scholar at New College, Oxford, he subsequently studied with Lionel Rogg at the Geneva Conservatoire. During his 36 years in post, he has created a choir renowned for its versatility, whether leading services or performing to the highest standard with St.Mary’s own Orchestra of the Restoration. Nottingham City Organist since 2016, John gives recitals in many different countries and is also in demand as a teacher and accompanist.
Assistant Director of Music
Francis Shepherd was appointed in February 2020, having previously worked at Truro Cathedral for several years as a Tenor Lay Vicar. Francis read Music at University College, Oxford, during which time he was Organ Scholar at St Barnabas, Jericho, and a Choral Exhibitioner in the Choir of Merton College, Oxford. Outside of his work at St Mary’s, Francis is a freelance recording engineer and producer, cello and music theory tutor and is the Advertising Manager for Organists’ Review magazine.
Edward Byrne received his early musical education as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, singing the daily services as well as at concerts and many prestigious events. After leaving the Abbey in 2016 he was awarded a Music Scholarship to Loughborough Grammar School where he is in the Upper Sixth. Ed studies with Christian Wilson in London and receives additional tuition from John Keys and David Brookshaw. He has also participated in masterclasses with some of the world’s best-known organists including Dame Gillian Weir, Jeremy Filsell, David Goode and Ann Elise Smoot. Since he started playing the organ, Ed has performed in cathedrals and churches across the UK. For the academic year 2021-22, Ed will take up the post of Organ Scholar at Worcester Cathedral, combining this with a year of organ studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Daniel Moult.