19 March 2013
The Cathedrals Group* 2013 Conference and Choirs Festival was hosted in Birmingham by Newman University.
The highlight of the 2013 Choirs Festival was a performance of the ‘German Requiem’ by Brahms, sung by a massed choir of 350 singers drawn from eleven Cathedrals Group universities. Conducted by Derek Wroughton, Choir Director at Newman University, and accompanied by the Birmingham Chamber Orchestra, the professional soloists were Mark Saberton (Baritone) and Caroline Lester (soprano).
The Choirs Festival, held in Birmingham Symphony Hall on Saturday 9 March, also featured a variety of choral pieces performed by the individual choirs. Distinguished guests included James Macmillan CBE, the celebrated composer and conductor who is an honorary graduate of Newman University, and The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, who studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Photos of the Choirs Festival will be available shortly in the Feature Gallery of The Cathedrals Group website*.
This year’s residential conference for the Vice Chancellors and Principals of the 15 member institutions of The Cathedrals Group, focused on plans for collaborative projects and activities and how recent changes to the system of higher education created challenges and opportunities for member institutions, their staff and students. External speakers included Steve Egan, Deputy Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England;
Dr Graeme Atherton, Head of AccessHE and Director of the National Education Opportunities Network; Revd Janina Ainsworth, Chief Education Officer for The Church of England; and Revd Stan Brown, Chaplaincy Officer – Education for The Methodist Church.
Professor Joy Carter, Chair of The Cathedrals Group and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester said: ‘The Choirs Festival has a long history. Professor Grenville Hancox MBE founded this event 25 years ago. In 1988 he came up with the inspirational idea to bring together the choirs from the different institutions to meet each other and share their love of choral music. Since that time the festival has been held in venues around the country and we are delighted to be in Birmingham this year for a very entertaining and inspiring evening.
‘The Cathedrals Group is a group of 15 universities who all share a strong commitment to values. The values of social justice, respect for the individual and promoting the public good. These values are embedded in our histories as Church Foundation institutions. But they are also part of our futures, as we equip new generations of public servants and responsible global citizens. At our conference today we agreed our strategic plan and we look forward to further developing and promoting higher education rooted in our values.’