Music at St Matthew's
Music is a cherished and pivotal facet of existence at St. Matthew's. In a pursuit that honors our time-honored heritage, we are poised to elevate music to a paramount position within our aspirations for St. Matthew's growth, embarking on this journey under the capable stewardship of Director of Music, Tom Williams. The crown jewel of our ecclesiastical musical narrative lies in the illustrious choir, a beacon of excellence that graces our hallowed Solemn Mass on a weekly basis. With their sublime renditions of choral masterpieces, this ensemble elevates the sanctity of our resplendent sanctuary, infusing each week with a harmonious and resplendent worship experience.
“I am delighted to give my endorsement to the Music Foundation at St Matthew’s. I am confident that, with your support, it will help this parish to grow in faith and to gather more people in God’s name. As we emerge from a time when singing in church has been silenced through the Coronavirus pandemic we need more than ever a renewed dedication to prayer and sacrament. We give thanks for our church musicians as, once more, they lift our prayers to heaven through the gift of music.” - The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
The Music Foundation at St Matthew's
St Matthew’s has a proud musical heritage rooted in the performance of plainchant and polyphony. In 2020, a new Music Foundation was established to serve the needs of the church’s liturgies and to make our building more accessible to the local community through concerts and other events.
There are currently three choirs under the umbrella of the Foundation:
The Schola Cantorum, an auditioned, voluntary ensemble of 10-12 singers of a high standard, which sings the Sunday liturgy and Feasts throughout the year. The Schola offers annual choral scholarships in various voice parts;
The Olympia Singers, a larger ensemble, which focuses on concert performances at St Matthew’s, more widely in London and further afield (recently in Bristol);
The St Matthew’s Youth Choir, which provides singing opportunities for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 18.
The Foundation also enjoys a close relationship with the choirs of St Luke’s, Chelsea and All Saints’, Fulham where they combine termly for Evensong or Vespers. We also provide musicians for other churches under the care of the Bishop of Fulham and frequently sings at Patronal Festivals, carol services and other liturgies at these partner churches.
The Music Foundation is led by our Director of Music, Tom Williams (founder/director of The Erebus Ensemble and former Choral Director at St Martin-in-the-Fields), who is assisted by our organist, Dr Edward Howell (also Sub-organist at Balliol College, Oxford).
We are always keen to hear from singers with an interest in auditioning for our choirs. Please contact email@example.com for further information.
The primary organ boasts a prestigious Grade II* designation from the British Institute of Organ Studies, acknowledging its excellence as a 1903 Norman & Beard instrument with a unique pitch preservation. Its original integrity remains largely intact, with all speaking stops in working order. However, persistent issues such as ciphers and sticky keys underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive restoration. A fundraising campaign is currently underway to support this endeavour.
This organ, though conventional for its era, distinguishes itself primarily with the inclusion of the Keraulophon stop, which enjoyed a fleeting period of popularity. According to certain experts, its debut in the St. Paul's, Knightsbridge organ can be traced back to 1843. However, by the time of our instrument's creation, the Keraulophon was nearing obsolescence. As noted in the Encyclopedia of Organ Stops, Wedgwood (1905) observed its rapid decline, while Audsley (1921) mourned its ultimate demise.
We are fortunate to possess not one, but two Keraulophons, with the second acquired from Mansfield College, Oxford, a few years ago. The instrument's case is a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, originally constructed by Eagles of Hackney Road, London, showcasing an eclectic blend of 18th-century motifs. It boasts rococo shades on the dumb pipes, baroque cherubs' heads, and intricate "gothic" tracery within the pipe work, encompassing nearly every 18th-century style except Chinoiserie.
This organ, featuring a single manual and a detachable pedal-board, serves a vital role in accompanying hymns during Advent and Lent when the primary organ is inactive, allowing the congregation's plainchant to be sung unaccompanied. Additionally, it finds occasional use in concerts.
The instrument's specification includes:
Stopped diapason (bass)
Stopped diapason (treble)
With the installation of a new electric blower, replacing one that seemed almost as ancient as the instrument itself, the organ's delightful voicing is now more readily audible.
Christmas from St Matthew’s, the Schola Cantorum’s debut recording, is a fantastic collection of much-loved carols and familiar tunes, and makes a perfect gift, while also being a great way to spread the word about our Music Foundation and raising money to support it.
Available to purchase in church. Save when you buy 5 copies and pay just £40.