University Choir alumni reunite to make music in Memorial Church

University Choir alumni sing Johannes Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem” in Memorial Church during reunion weekend. Jeffrey Blackwell

3 min read

Generations of Harvard University Choir member voices filled the sanctuary, Appleton Chapel and even the hallways of Memorial Church last weekend in a musical reunion of Harvard’s celebrated chorus.

More than 100 alumni from across the country attended the three-day event, reuniting old friends and providing the opportunity to make music again in the place where lasting memories and friendships were created.

Choir members representing Harvard classes from the past 60 years — including one member of the Class of 1958 — took part in events throughout the weekend. Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville, who served as University choirmaster and organist at the Memorial Church from 1990 to 2003, also attended to share the conducting and rehearsing duties.

“It was wonderful to have everyone back, making music in a place very special all to of them and to the collective group,” said Edward Elwyn Jones, the Gund University Choirmaster and Organist. “Many people in the Choir, the Choral Fellows and also the Sunday Choir, spend a significant amount of their time in this building and grow to love it as a center, not only for their music-making but also their social lives. It’s wonderful to welcome them back home here.”

The reunion was organized by the University Choir Alumni Committee. The festivities kicked off with a dinner Friday evening. On Saturday, former choir members took part in a morning rehearsal, followed in the afternoon by a performance of Johannes Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” conducted by Somerville.

At Sunday Services, Alumni singers joined with the members of the current University Choir to sing Nun danket alle Gott, SWV 418 by Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672); “Give All to Love” by Memorial Church Composer Carson Cooman ’04; and “Hear My Words, Ye People” by Hubert Parry (1848–1918).

“Splendid making music together with nearly 100 alumni returning, alumni from Ed’s time, alumni from the time when I was university organist and choirmaster, and also a number of the alumni from my distinguished predecessor John Ferris,” said Somerville. “It’s a weekend of remembrance and looking to the future, and reconnecting.”

Somerville recently made a generous gift to the choir in support of the Choral Fellows, a group of 16 choir members who sing at Morning Prayers every weekday during the academic term and at special concerts throughout the year.

“I am honored and humbled by Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville’s generous gift to the Choral Fellows, an institution which he founded,” said Jones. “He is a tireless supporter of what I’m doing at the church.”