Biography The Chapel Choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge & Anna Lapwood

The Chapel Choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge & Anna Lapwood

Pembroke College Choir Cambridge
Directed by Anna Lapwood, The Chapel Choir of Pembroke College has one of the most exciting and varied ranges of choral endeavours among Oxbridge choirs. Alongside their primary responsibility of contributing to worship in the College’s Chapel, they engage in regular artistic collaborations, media appearances and outreach work.

In Cambridge, the Chapel Choir sings services and concerts as part of the broad portfolio comprising Music at Pembroke. In addition to regular weekly services, the Choir has at least one major concert per term, often performing classical master works. In recent years, highlights from concerts in Cambridge have included Bach’s Magnificat, Fauré’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria. They also sing a termly concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields, most recently performing Allegri’s Miserere by candlelight alongside pieces from their upcoming album.

In December 2019, Pembroke Chapel Choir was featured in ‘Britain’s Christmas Story’ with Gareth Malone on BBC One. Other collaborations include recordings at Abbey Road Studios with Grammy-award winning composer Christopher Tin (2020), with singer-songwriter Tom Chaplin and concert appearances with Eric Idle and the Swingle Singers.

Outreach work is an integral aspect of the Chapel Choir’s tours. Their most recent tour took them to Thailand and featured musical workshops with over 500 schoolchildren, a visit to Pattaya Orphanage and a series of workshops at the Noh Bo Academy, a school for displaced children at the Thai-Burmese border. Every three years, the Choir travels to Zambia to run music workshops for local schoolchildren and to work in collaboration with Zambian music teachers to help train the next generation of teachers. This is made possible through an ongoing collaboration with the Muze Trust, with whom Director of Music Anna Lapwood travels to Zambia every year to continue developing the Choir’s relationship with Zambian musical communities.

Just as with international outreach work, the Choir can also be found hosting Cambridge-based events designed to make singing as accessible as possible within the local community. As part of the Pembroke Festival of Voice, the Choir runs annual ‘Come-and-Sing’ events, providing local singers the chance to sing major works alongside the Chapel Choir and Pembroke’s Choral Society, the Pembroke Singers. Once a term, the Choir hosts local schoolchildren to give them the chance to experience high quality music-making and sing alongside the Chapel Choir. The Choir is also heavily involved in the flourishing relationship between Pembroke College and Pembroke House, a settlement and church in Walworth (London). In addition to seasonal joint services alternating between Cambridge and London the choir works alongside the Pembroke Academy of Music to help bring musical opportunities to as many children as possible.

Anna Lapwood
is a trailblazing musician. As a broadcaster she is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 3 and hosts a live, weekly classical music show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. This year she makes her TV presenting debut, hosting BBC Four's coverage of BBC Young Musician 2020. Alongside her work as a conductor, Director of Music and public speaker, she performs an extensive number of organ recitals on some of the greatest instruments across Europe each season.

Appointed Director of Music at Pembroke College at Cambridge University in 2016 aged just 21, she conducts the Pembroke College Chapel Choir. Anna’s passion to support girls and women in music shines through every aspect of her work, especially at Pembroke. In 2018 she established the Pembroke College Girls’ Choir for girls aged 11 to 18 to inspire them to explore Church music, and runs the annual Cambridge Organ Experience for Girls. Her non-stop Bach-a-thon performance of the complete works of J.S. Bach had an all-female team of organists in its second year and is now an annual fixture in the Pembroke calendar. Multiple other initiatives for musicians of all ages and gender include the introduction of a choir designed to teach sightreading skills to singers, open to all. In January 2020, Anna was appointed a Bye-Fellow at Pembroke College.

Beyond her work at Pembroke, Anna is increasingly in demand as a conductor, directing the BBC Singers as part of the BBC Proms Inspire programme in 2019. She has led choral workshops around the world with recent events in Thailand, Perth WA, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Lusaka. A strong advocate for music education at home and abroad, she specialises in bringing music to children from impoverished backgrounds. As a Trustee of the Muze Trust, a charity committed to making music accessible to children and young adults in Zambia, Anna works in Zambia regularly and leads the Muze Pembroke Music Exchange Programme.

Anna is a highly distinguished concert organist. Awarded an Organ Scholarship at Magdalen College, Oxford, from where she graduated with a first class degree, she was the first female in the College’s 560- year history to be given the Scholarship. Performances have taken her to the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall (London), St Thomas Church (New York), and across the UK and Europe on recital tours. In 2019, Anna opened the BAFTA TV awards on the organ of the Royal Festival Hall.

Formerly Principal Harpist for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the Junior Academy Symphony Orchestra, she also studied piano, violin, viola and composition at the Junior Royal Academy of Music. Anna has a tremendous zest for life, extraordinary work ethic and passion for multiple genres of music. She has collaborated with Katy B at London Fashion Week and worked with Tom Chaplin as arranger and conductor for the choir on a recording project at Abbey Road Studios. As a singer, Anna was a member of Gareth Malone’s professional ensemble, Voices, with whom she has released two albums, performed at the Classical Brit Awards, Royal Variety Show, the National Eisteddfod of Wales and in multiple TV performances.

Having spent some years being encouraged to “play like a man” and with a dedication to her art and mission that belied her years, Anna is now humbled to find that she is an inspiration to many young women and amused that they have adopted her hashtag, #playlikeagirl.

The Pembroke College Girls’ Choir
was founded by Anna Lapwood in 2018 and has quickly gained a reputation as one of the UK’s leading girls’ choirs. Contemporary music is the Choir's specialty, and sitting right at the heart of the Choir’s activities is performing and commissioning new music. Made up of 20 girls aged 11-18, The Pembroke College Girls’ Choir sings twice a week in the College Chapel, as well as regularly performing alongside the College Chapel Choir. They released their first album, All things are quite silent, alongside the Chapel Choir in 2020, receiving praise for their intonation, ensemble technique, and fresh, ingenuous delivery. They made their London concert debut shortly afterwards, performing repertoire from the release at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Other recent highlights have included performing Haydn’s Creation with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort and Players. Alongside concerts and services, they have sung for TV broadcasts on BBC One and recorded at the world-famous Abbey Road studios alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Grammy award-winning composer Christopher Tin.

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