News

First live May Morning since 2019

28th April 2022

May

The Choir of Magdalen College is preparing for its first live May Morning this Sunday at 6am after two years of online-only events.

The much-loved Oxford tradition, which is thought to date back at least five hundred years, will see the Choir sing in the dawn from the top of the College’s iconic Great Tower to a gathering of music-lovers and merrymakers in the streets below.

Large crowds are anticipated this year due to the Bank Holiday weekend and the promise of good weather, but for those who can’t make it, the event will be live-streamed for the first time, on the Choir’s Facebook page.

The cancellation of the ceremony due to Covid in recent years has meant the Choir have had to be creative to ensure the tradition was upheld. In 2020, they created a Virtual May Morning edited together from Choristers and Clerks performing into phones and cameras from their homes, and last year a performance pre-recorded in secret at the top of the tower in late April was broadcast on May Morning.

Choir

“For hundreds of years, the May Morning ceremony has been Oxford’s secret, available only to those able to assemble on Magdalen Bridge in the early hours of the morning,” said Mark Williams, Informator Choristarum and Organist at Magdalen College.

“The pandemic saw us share our singing more widely and we were overwhelmed with messages from around the world after our two online offerings.

“Despite a number of challenges, including a rather intermittent internet signal at the top of the Tower, we were keen to continue to make this treasured Oxford tradition accessible to all, and are planning to live-stream the event so that people can share in this unique ceremony wherever they may be.’

This year’s event coincides with the release of a new disc of Music for May Morning, ‘The Sweet and Merry Month’ recorded for the Opus Arte label by Magdalen College Choir in 2021, and now available here.