Simon Williamson was Head Chorister at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford in the days of the magnificent recordings of the choir with the Academy of Ancient Music. This influence of daily services and Proms, tours and broadcast Evensongs have certainly influenced his life and his decisions to perform, conduct and teach music. Though the piano was always his main instrument (studying with Ronald Smith and performing premières of works by Alkan while still at school as well as Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto and Weber’s Konzertstück) it was the organ and choral music that drew him back to Oxford University and subsequent performances with some of the finest singers in Oxford (John Mark Ainsley and Roderick Williams to name but a few). Simon has studied organ with David Flood, Catherine Ennis, Margaret Phillips and David Sanger.
Simon has performed as both a piano accompanist and organist in many prestigious venues up and down the country. As Director of Arts and Music at Wellington College, he balances the running of the departments with teaching, running ensembles and directing Crowthorne Choral Society, which he has done for over 10 years now. His experience as a conductor includes directing many of the main-stream oratorio and sacred repertoire, as well as some less well-known items. He is passionate about music education; hence concerts have also featured students performing and in recent years these have included violin, viola, piano and cello concertos as well as opportunities for brass, woodwind and singers.
Crowthorne Choral Society – Celebrating 50 Years
2017/18 is a special year for Crowthorne Choral Society, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Crowthorne Music Society was formed in 1967 as a way of bringing together the College and the people of Crowthorne through choral music. Amazingly, a few of those original members still sing with us today (see Past Performances).
The choir later became Crowthorne Choral Society, but the strong link with the College remained, and is still an integral part of who we are. Our Musical Directors have all been Directors of Music in College, and students and staff regularly perform with us in our concerts, which all take place in venues within the College. We are constantly aware of the invaluable support and privilege we enjoy through this long association.
We perform three concerts a year, from a wide repertoire. The Autumn concert takes place in Wellington College Chapel, with either organ or small orchestra, while the Spring concert combines the resources of the choir, students, staff and parents, to perform a large-scale work with full orchestra, and usually includes a concerto performed by a College student. The summer concert is more informal in style, with a lighter music programme.
We have an exciting programme planned for our 50th Anniversary year. We began with a hugely successful performance of Fauré’s Requiem in December. March 2018 will bring a Celebration of English Music including works by Stanford, Parry, Finzi and Holst, while the Summer Concert in June will include Rutter’s Psalmfest. We will round off the celebrations in the Autumn with a rousing performance of the Verdi Requiem in the newly built Concert Hall at Wellington College.