Shipton church: Director of Music

Inside of Shipton churchThe church of St Mary the Virgin, Shipton-under-Wychwood is looking to recruit a Director of Music (or possibly a Choir Director and Organist) to replace the current Director of Music who has  recently decided to step down after 22 years in the role.

The church is a historic grade 1 listed building that recently celebrated its 900th anniversary.  It houses a broad church congregation, embracing a variety of services.  The church is proud of its musical tradition: the previous Director of Music was in post for 17 years and revitalised the choir, and the current postholder has built on that tradition, resulting in Shipton church having had the finest church choir in the area for quite some time.  It is hoped that the new Director of Music will build on this legacy: there is a close relationship between the church and the village primary school, and there is the opportunity to build on that to enhance the top line of the choir.

There is an extensive, well-maintained and well-catalogued choir library, comprising around 500 anthems, carols, service settings, etc.  The mechanical-action organ is well-maintained (currently in the care of Nicholson & Co) and there are two upright pianos: one in the nave of the church, and one in the choir rehearsal area that was partitioned off from the body of the church in the early 1990s.

The choir currently consists of just over 20 singers, both adults and children, singing in four parts. It usually sings at one service in the Benefice each Sunday, with the usual pattern each month being:

1st Sunday: United Benefice Common Worship Communion service in Shipton (11am)
2nd Sunday: Parish BCP Morning Prayer service in Shipton (11am)
3rd Sunday: alternating United Benefice Common Worship Communion service in Milton-under-Wychwood (9.30am) and Choral Evensong in Fifield or Shipton (6pm)
4th Sunday: Parish Common Worship Communion service in Shipton (11am)
5th Sunday (when relevant): United Benefice Common Worship Communion service in Fifield or Idbury (11am)

Shipton choir in the University Church, OxfordThe choir practises immediately before the service; there is no mid-week choir practice.  For an 11am service, the usual rehearsal times are 9.45am start for juniors and 10.15am start for the adults.  The choir is affiliated to the RSCM and singers take part in the ‘Voice for Life’ scheme. Recent music schemes are downloadable at the bottom of this page.

The choir has also sung at a number of cathedrals in recent years, often in collaboration with the choir of Holy Trinity, Hereford.  Recent visits have included Southwell Minster, Worcester Cathedral, and the University Church, Oxford.  The choir is scheduled to sing Evensong in Lichfield Cathedral in September 2024.

Nine lessons and carols serviceThe choir traditionally sings an Advent Carol Service and a Nine Lessons & Carols service each year, at the Midnight service on Christmas Eve, and on Good Friday.  There is opportunity for further choral services, subject to agreement with the vicar and the choir.  The choir usually rests on the Sunday after Christmas and the Sunday after Easter.  It also has a break for around seven Sundays in the summer.

The Director of Music would be expected to direct the choir and play the organ and/or piano for any services at which the choir is present.  The postholder would also be expected to play for any of the main Shipton Sunday services when the choir is resting, or to find another organist to play in their absence, and the same applies for the 11am service on Christmas Day.  The Director of Music would be entitled to six weeks’ holiday per year.

The parish is looking to recruit someone keen to maintain and build on the high musical standards for which this parish has become well-known, maintaining the broad Anglican musical tradition.  There is opportunity to develop and adapt the role: a certain amount of the work undertaken by the current Director of Music has been done by others in the past, and there may be the opportunity for the new postholder to delegate some responsbilities (e.g. choir robes; music librarianship).  The successful candidate will be a highly organised and flexible person, with the ability to play the organ to a high standard, in sympathy with the aims and ethos of the Church and Shipton Parish.

Shipton church choir in Worcester CathedralThe salary will be set in negotiation with the successful candidate, in line with RSCM recommendations.

This post will require an Enhanced DBS with barred list check.  The postholder will be required to undertake Safeguarding training in accordance with Oxford Diocese policy.  The parish’s Safeguarding Policy is available here.

Applicants are encouraged to submit a cover letter explaining why they would like to be considered for the job, together with a CV.  Applications should be sent by email to the Benefice Administrator, Clare Harper, at [email protected], by 23:59pm on Thursday 12th September 2024.  Interview and/or audition will be by arrangement, with the hope that the successful applicant will be able to commence duty on Sunday 13th October or as soon as possible thereafter.

Recent music schemes (PDFs):
2024 June
2024 May-June
2024 April-May

Some recordings of the choir, made during Sunday services, are available on the choir recruitment page.