Director of Music
Dr Geoffrey Webber is Precentor and Director of Studies in Music at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Music.
He studied at New College, Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar, taking the degrees of BA, MPhil and DPhil. His tutors included Edward Higginbottom, John Caldwell and James Dalton, and he studied the organ with Nicholas Danby and Gillian Weir.
Whilst in Oxford he also served as Assisting Organist at Magdalen College and University Organist, and held a number of College Lectureships in Music. From 1984-6 he was Director of the annual Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy in Wiltshire.
After spells as Acting Organist at both New College and Magdalen College he was appointed to his present position at Caius College, Cambridge in 1989.
His principal occupation is the direction of Caius College Choir, which is now well established as one of the finest College choirs in the UK. In addition to the regular round of services in Cambridge, the choir undertakes a busy programme of recordings, broadcasts, concerts and tours.
Many of the CDs made by the choir are the result of research projects, and include many unique recordings. Repertoire covered includes music by Samuel Wesley, Rebecca Clarke, Leoš Janáček, Leonardo Leo and Joseph Rheinberger, and a reconstruction of the St Mark Passion by J. S. Bach. The choir also champions much contemporary choral repertoire, and commissions new choral works from major British composers including Judith Weir, James MacMillan and Robin Holloway (a Fellow at Caius).
Three commissioned works, from Gabriel Jackson, Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Sasha Siem, have taken first prize at the annual British Composer Awards. Concert performances have included regular appearances at the Spitalfields Festival in London and collaborations with foreign orchestras have included the Philharmonia Baroque of San Francisco in the U.S.A. (Handel’s Solomon) and the Opera Orchestra of Bordeaux-Aquitaine in France (Haydn’s Creation). Radio broadcasts for the BBC have featured much innovatory work, including a programme of Anglo-American music from the ancestral village of the family of Abraham Lincoln in Norfolk, and music by John Taverner from the Collegiate church of Tattershall in Lincolnshire.
Geoffrey Webber lectures and examines regularly for the Faculty of Music, and in 2010 he helped establish a Masters degree in Choral Studies (M.Mus.), for which he now serves as Course Director. In 1999 he established the Cambridge Organ Scholars’ Forum which runs masterclasses and other events for Organ Scholars across the University.
His publications have focused on music of the 17th century. Following his doctoral thesis on the influence of Italian music in the North German region he published a monograph North German Church Music in the Age of Buxtehude (OUP, 1996). Articles on German music of this period include two studies of the harmonic language of Buxtehude’s music for the journal Early Music: ‘Modes and Tones in Buxtehude’s organ works’ (2007) and ‘Buxtehude’s Praeludia and the Sonata Publications of Corelli’ (2009). He has also authored a major web-based resource on the organ music of Buxtehude available on the web-site of the Royal College of Organists since 2008 which includes a study of all the available editions of his music and material related to performance practice.
Other areas of interest include church music of the English Restoration period; his editions have included a two-volume anthology of anthems with Keri Dexter, The Restoration Anthem, published by the Church Music Society (OUP, 2003/7), and settings of the Evening Canticles by William Turner (in A) and Michael Wise (in E flat). Other publications include as co-editor with Nicholas Thistlethwaite, The Cambridge Companion to the Organ (CUP, 1998).