See the Monthly Music List for forthcoming liturgical music.
The Oratory’s founder, Saint Philip Neri, was a great believer in the power of sacred music as a means of raising our minds and hearts to the Lord. St. Philip’s first Oratory in Rome was one of the great centres of sacred music in the Eternal City. The most celebrated composers and singers of the day became associated with it and contributed to its apostolate; Palestrina was St. Philip’s penitent.
From its foundation, the Birmingham Oratory was noted for the excellence of its liturgical music, due largely to the active interest of Cardinal (now Saint) John Henry Newman himself, whose love and aptitude for music were an important part of his own spirituality.
The Choir of the Birmingham Oratory strives to maintain the tradition we have inherited. At High Mass in our church on Sundays and other Holydays the mellifluous works of Palestrina, Byrd, Victoria, and others are heard. The beauties of polyphony and plainchant are deeply congruent with the spirit of prayerful recollection and sober devotion which should always characterize the way we offer the Eucharistic sacrifice. The noble simplicity and timeless beauty of Gregorian chant has a pre-eminent place in the Roman rite.
The function of authentic Catholic liturgical music is not to stir up superficial emotionalism, nor to echo the cacophonies and frivolities of secular music and culture. Its proper religious function is to help the faithful raise hearts and minds to heaven above, the heaven that opens upon us each time the sacrifice of the altar is celebrated; ‘as the Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day’.
The Birmingham Oratory welcomes auditions year-round for its professional choir. The Oratory Choir sings two Sunday calls (10:30am High Mass and 4:30pm Vespers) with rehearsal immediately preceding. While preference is given to singers who are able to commit to weekly bookings, the Oratory Choir is also able to accommodate some members on a rota basis. All solemn liturgies at the Oratory are offered in the Usus Antiquior; ideal candidates for the Oratory Choir are skilled readers with a love for polyphony and plainchant. To enquire about auditioning for the Choir, please email Director of Music Adam Wills Begley on MusicDirector@birminghamoratory.org.uk.
Specifications for the Grand Organ may be found at the National Pipe Organ Register.