Music has always been an important part of the identity of our church. This became especially true during the long and productive tenure of Healey Willan from 1921 until his death in 1968. His famed choir and own virtuosic skill as an organist brought renown to the church.
This legacy has evolved over the years, and the music programme has come to be one with breadth of variety and style. We are fortunate to have many skilled musicians who contribute greatly to the musical life of our parish: these include our three choirs, and the Orff Ensemble.
The Healey Willan Memorial Organ, made famous by Healey Willan’s improvisations and liturgical accompaniment, graces the various liturgies with grandeur.
The liturgy at SMM is supported by the contributions of three choirs: the Gallery Choir, the Ritual Choir, and the SMM Singers. All three are entirely voluntary, and maintain a high level of performance through the dedication of their members.
The Gallery Choir sings at the 11.00am Solemn Mass, and on feast days throughout the year. The repertoire, strongly rooted in the tradition established by Healey Willan, includes many mass settings and motets from the Renaissance period. This award-winning ensemble also offers concerts at SMM and beyond.
The Ritual Choir chants the minor propers (the introit, gradual, alleluia, offertory, and communion sentence) of the 11.00am Solemn Mass, and on feast days throughout the year. The Chant Club provides opportunities for people to learn about this ancient form of music in an enjoyable and relaxed way.
The SMM Singers meet at 9.00am each Sunday morning to rehearse for the 9.30am Sung Mass. They lead the congregational singing of hymns and the music of the mass, and usually sing a short motet. Membership in the group is informal, flexible, and un-auditioned: new-comers are always welcome.
If you are interested in becoming involved in music at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, please contact the director of music via the church office.