music of the spires

Choral masterpieces of oxford

This is a fantastic initiative, providing a rare opportunity to hear this marvellous music in live performance in some of the country’s finest buildings.
— Peter Phillips, Artistic Patron

Photo credit: Jo Cox

We are excited to be returning to Oxford in 2018 for our first large scale project with six concerts in some of the city’s most beautiful and historic churches including Merton Chapel, Pusey House Chapel and St John the Evangelist. Oxford’s libraries contain some of the most important manuscripts of choral repertoire from Tudor England with collections of music by Byrd and Tallis as well as Taverner, Fayrfax and Sheppard, to name a few.

In Music of the Spires we will perform six of the festal masses by John Taverner and Robert Fayrfax from the Forrest-Heyther partbooks, a collection dating from c. 1530. These large scale and highly complex pieces were written for special occasions in the liturgical year, and our selection features masses for Candlemas, Trinity, St Michael’s and Christmas. We will perform the masses around the time of year when they would have been first performed over 500 years ago.  

Alongside the masses, we will perform other gems from Oxford’s unparalleled Tudor collections and pieces by our Associate Composers, Marco Galvani (himself a recent graduate of The Queen’s College) and Oliver Tarney.

All artwork by Michael Tompsett (prints available here)


Here we are performing John Taverner's stunning Mater Christi sanctissima recorded at St Jude-on-the-Hill in Hampstead.

UPcoming concerts


27 January, Pusey House Chapel
5 May, St Mary Magdalen's Church
9 June, Merton College Chapel
15 September, Magdalen College Chapel
6 October, St Michael & All Angels


Music of the Spires is a self-promoted concert series that receives no external funding. Ticket sales will only go part of the way to making this project possible, so we are asking for your help. For each of our six concerts, our costs include venue hire, production of specially commissioned musical editions, production and distribution of publicity materials, and paying our professional singers.

In aid of this unique and ambitious series, we have created three levels of sponsorship. The first two circles are named after two of the series’ main composers, Robert Fayrfax and John Taverner. The third circle is named after one of our primary sources, the Forrest-Heyther Partbooks which are held in the Bodleian library in Oxford.

Your support will help ensure the success of Music of the Spires and enable us to take the project further, both in scope and for future concerts in Oxford’s beautiful churches: the city’s libraries contain enough music for us to continue the project well beyond 2018 and we hope you will join us on this exciting journey. 

T H E  F A Y R F A X  C I R C L E  -  donations of £30

  • Reserved seating at all Music of the Spires concerts

  • Recognition of your support on the website and in Music of the Spires programmes

T H E  T A V E R N E R  C I R C L E  -  donations of £50

  • Fayrfax Circle benefits plus…

  • Free drinks at Music of the Spires concerts and receptions with the choir

T H E  F O R R E S T - H E Y T H E R  C I R C L E  -  donations of £100+

  • Fayrfax & Taverner Circle benefits plus…

  • Access to rehearsals on concert days



We are enormously grateful to the following Music of the Spires supporters:

Susie & Peter Furnivall

David Hodges
David Galvani