Wadham at St Paul's

Date Published: 01.11.2021

The voices of Wadham’s Chapel Choir soared into the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect and alumnus Sir Christopher Wren.

The choir, led by Dr Katharine Pardee, Betts Fellow in Organ Studies and Director of Chapel Music at Wadham, were singing for a public Evensong service attended by some 60 members of the Wadham 1610 Society and friends.

The Warden, Robert Hannigan, hosted the event, welcoming Wadham guests to a reception and talk at St Paul’s Chapter House following the service. 

The President of the 1610 Society, Colin Drummond (Classics, 1969), and Claudia Pendred (Human Sciences, 1977) joined the Warden for a short presentation on legacy planning, the long-term strategy for the College, and how alumni can help. 

The Warden mentioned how humbling it had been to learn more about the thoughtful planning alumni put into leaving a bequest to the College, and how vital the income from legacies is to sustain Wadham’s high levels of academic excellence and pastoral care into the future.

Colin thanked 1610 Society members for their commitment to Wadham’s future and reiterated to members and guests the fundamental part alumni bequests play in supporting current and future generations of Wadham students. 

He highlighted how the College’s business model is in fact incredibly frail, and that the future delivery of Wadham’s educational mission depends to a great extent on philanthropy. Everything we love about Wadham, he said, from its academic excellence to the memories and friendships forged, connect us all, and the sense of community and commitment to its future are manifested in the 1610 Society. 

Claudia explained that the 1610 Society enabled her to “give something back” to Wadham, saying that the career opportunities she has benefitted from would not have been possible without her Wadham education. She noted that today’s students face mounting tuition fees that her generation didn’t have, making it even more challenging for talented students from under-represented backgrounds to benefit from an Oxford education. 

“Hearing the wonderful voices of the Chapel choir in Wren’s beautiful Cathedral was a very special moment that we were delighted to share with our 1610 Society members and friends. It was encouraging to speak to our guests, many of whom were younger alumni, about the 1610 Society and its importance to the College. Their interest in the work Wadham does and its values was very clear, and we hope to see many of them support it through the 1610 Society” said Director of Development Julie Hage.

Dr Katharine Pardee added: “Despite the best efforts of freshers’ flu to strike down most of our tenors, about 30 singers joined the Chapel Choir to sing at St Paul’s. We sang Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in G by Herbert Sumsion and Valediction by David Conte with words by Sir Philip Sidney -which turned out to be a fortunate choice as it is scored for no tenors. It was magical to hear the choir singing in the Cathedral.”

More like this

View all

Dance, pain thresholds and social bonding

Dancing in time with others raises your pain threshold and increases social closeness, says research carried out by Wadham’s Emma Cohen and a team from Oxford University's Experimental Psychology and Anthropology Departments.

Find out more

Reading Chaucer's poems

Read Chaucer’s poems, guided line by line by Wadham Emeritus Fellow, leading poet and medievalist Bernard O’Donoghue.

Find out more