Chamber music in Wadham's secret second venue

Date Published: 12.04.2022

Wadham College has not one, but two of the finest chamber music performance spaces in Oxford.

As revealed by Julian Anderson (1957), although the Holywell Music Room was rightly appreciated for chamber music, the nascent Wadham Music Society was created in order to give performances in the College Hall.

“Filled with trepidation”, Julian recalls, “Ernest Warburton (1956) and I asked Maurice Bowra for permission to give chamber music recitals in the Hall. To our absolute delight… the Warden fully supported this idea, even though it involved removing the High Table to make space for the performers and the centre row of tables in the body of the hall to allow more audience seating.”

Two photographs from the late 1950s show Julian’s quartet playing at the inaugural concert in the Hall and a recital he gave shortly afterwards in the newly refurbished Holywell. “The acoustic and atmosphere in the packed College Hall was truly amazing with total clarity of sound right to the very back.”

"...the Warden fully supported this idea, even though it involved removing the High Table..."

Julian has remained an active amateur musician and a few years ago was in Oxford to attend a 1610 society dinner. He brought with him the violin that he had had made for his 80th birthday (a copy of the Jakob Stainer in the Ashmolean’s Hill Collection, by kind permission of the curator). Julian sought permission to try his violin in the Hall, and the Finance Bursar not only agreed but joined him to play Bach’s 2-part inventions as a duo! They left asking themselves how many other alumni might love to come back home to Wadham to play chamber music together.

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Are you interested in meeting other alumni to play and rehearse chamber music in the College and the Holywell Music Room?

Check your incoming e-newsletter for your chance to tell us what kind of event you'd be interested in!

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