Oxford Girls’ Choir was formed by Richard Vendome in 1984. It was the first choir of its kind in England to develop girls' singing as a musical medium in its own right, and not just as a substitute for the adult or the boy's voice. Several former members have gone on to become professional singers or instrumentalists. Medicine and psychology are also popular career choices for old members, and this encouraged us to present the "Power of Music" symposium in 1999 (on Music Therapy and Alexander Technique).
OGC performs a wide range of music, including jazz, opera and most areas of choral music, with regular workshops given by visiting specialists.The choir provides a thorough technical training, and organizes regular public workshops taken by leading musicians which focus on different vocal traditions. The choir provides a thorough technical training, and advanced members have individual lessons. The senior choir has over 50 members, aged 11 -18, from state and independent schools in the Oxford area, and a teaching staff of six. The most experienced singers are able to undertake paid work and help with the running of the junior choirs.
The choir has made three award-winning CDs of music by Hildegard of Bingen with the ensemble SINFONYE, and three others of medieval music. It is also active in the world of contemporary music, and has commissioned or premièred many new compositions and arrangements, including
- Judith Bingham: The Ghost of Combermere Abbey
- Howard Haigh: The Oxford Mummers
- Edward Dudley-Hughes: Ascention (John Donne)
- Kenneth Leaper: Maids of Masura, A Page From our Pillow Book, Butterflies, Sutra
- Francis Pott: Nunc Natus Est Altissimus
- Roderick Williams: Alice in Wonderland (opera), Set me as a seal, and many original arrangements of jazz standards
- Stevie Wishart: Sub Rosa
OGC performs regularly at home and abroad, and has sung in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Malta, Ireland and Wales. In 2005 the Schola Pietatis Antonio Vivaldi, based on past and present OGC members and others, filmed the programmes "Vivaldi's Women" and "Gloria" in the church of La Pietà in Venice, recorded a programme for the Radio 3 series "The Choir".
Associated with OGC is the Oxford Prep Choir (a starter choir for boys and girls aged 4-7), Oxford Girls' Junior Choir (girls aged 7-11), and Oxford Boys' Choir (boys aged 7-12). Sometimes the choirs perform together, as at the 2005 Mediterranea Festival in Gozo, when they provided much of the chorus for a production of Puccini's "La Bohème". Together the choirs form Oxford Youth Choirs (registered charity no. 299109) managed by a committee of trustees.
Choir patrons are Lord and Lady Berkeley, opera singer and composer Roderick Williams, and singer and BBC presenter Catherine Bott.