We launched our 125th anniversary celebrations with St Hilda of Whitby: A Cantata

10th March 2018
St Hilda of Whitby: A Cantata

If you were unable to join us, read our alumna Adèle Geras's account on 'The History Girls' blog.

St Hilda's choir, orchestra, friends and alumnae, gathered in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin for our celebration of music on 18 February 2018. Take a look at our photo gallery.

We heard 'Zadok the Priest' before being welcomed by Professor Martyn Harry, Tutor in Music at St Hilda's. Professor Harry then led a discussion with our alumnae and creators of 'St Hilda of Whitby: A Cantata', Nicola LeFanu and Wendy Cope. They described how they wanted their Cantata to capture the spirit of St Hilda, who was very widely respected but also loved. They wanted the audience to hear the aspects of her character, including her diplomacy and her commitment to learning, through their music. This is a storytelling piece, which uses the french horn and the cello, two very eloquent instruments, in association with Hilda's voice. The strings are its emotional driver, while Caedmon's hymn, the part of the story that everyone knows, uses all the instruments to accompany the baritone voice. The role of the trumpet is to herald new events.

The rest of the programme began with three wonderful instrumental performances.

Carson Becke, a former Master's student, Music Scholar and Graduate Musician in Residence at St Hilda's is now reading for a DPhil on the music of Richard Strauss. He played Chopin - Nocturne in F minor, op. 55 no. (1844). Hannah Merchant, one of our five music finalists, performed Josef Suk - Ballade op.3. Finally, Toto Gill, St Hilda's Music Scholar 2017 - 18 and one of three first-year students reading music at St Hilda's, performed Wagner - 'Liebestod' from Tristan und Isolde, transcribed by Liszt.

We then had the great pleasure of hearing the international debut of 'St Hilda of Whitby: A Cantata', performed by our orchestra and choir and conducted by our Director of College Music, Dr Jonathan Williams.

The Performers

  • Breguswith (Hilda's mother) - Ellen Timothy
  • St Hilda - Laura Coppinger
  • An alto - Antonida Kocharova
  • A tenor - Lachlan Hughes
  • Caedmon - Daniel Tate
  • Soprano (Begu, a nun) - Charlotte Pawley

The Choir of St Hilda's


Ziva Vita Alif, *Anna Appleby, Isabelle Carter, Miriam Chapman-Rosenfeld, Laura Coppinger, *Cathy Derrick, *Ruth Fuller-Sessions, *Emma Hall, *Francesca Hunt, Hannah Jago, Dearbhla Kelly, Lucy Matheson, *Kate Miller, Charlotte Pawley, *Julia Stufield, *Ellen Timothy, Nia Williams, and Mary Wilson.


Sibylle Bandilla, *Antonia Bennett, *Helena Bickley, *Virginia Brown, *Ann-Marie Cross, *Callyanne Desroches, Catherine Evans, Holly Jackson, *Alison Henshaw, Antonida Kocharova, Nikoletta Kokosiouli, *Clare McNally, Nuzha Nuseibeh, Emma Sadler, Lydia Simms and Violetta Suvini.


*Carson Becke, Stanislaw Biber, hannah Bossers, *David Bowe, Thomas Carr and Lachlan Hughes.


Jack Ford, Alastair Matthews, Jack Miller and Jonathan Packham.

The Orchestra of St Hilda's College

  • Oboe – Chloe Barnes
  • Bassoon – Ho-Ting Chan, Sasha Rasmussen
  • Horn – Myrddin Rees DAvies
  • Trumpets – Michael Ahearn, Freddie Meyers
  • Violins – Leo Panish, Barnaby Burleigh, Violetta Suvini
  • Viola – Lucy Biddle Merton
  • Cello – Hannah Merchant
  • Timpani – Ed Maclean
  • Organ – Jonathan White

*Alumnae performers