Music Shop

Blackwell’s interviews Harry Christophers


Wednesday April 8th sees Harry Christophers’ ‘The Sixteen’ performing The Choral Pilgrimage 2015 at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. Prior to the performance our Music Shop is hosting a reception from 18:00 to 19:00


Our Music Shop manager, Luke, was fortunate enough to find time to talk with Harry between tour dates in Australia and Korea:
Would The Sixteen consider bringing a particular composer’s work to light who isn’t already that widely known in the mainstream classical world? If so who would you particularly like to pick?
Part of The Sixteen’s brief has always been to bring relatively unknown composers’ work to prominence. We did this many years ago with our Eton Choirbook series (5 volumes) and, of course, in our early recordings for Hyperion we concentrated on the works of Taverner (5 volumes) and Sheppard (4 volumes). If you look through our catalogue you will find rarities – Portuguese music by Rebelo, Melgás and Teixeira and Tudor music by the likes of Tye, Parsons and White. This year’s Choral Pilgrimage is devoted to the music of Guerrero and Lobo and will introduce thousands of people to this wonderful music.

How much do you concern yourself with ‘authenticity’ within early choral music and how does this influence your interpretation of a musical score or manuscript?

First and foremost the editions we use must be the best about, taking into account any new findings etc. Martyn Imrie is always scrupulous in his attention to detail when preparing editions. He produced the editions for this year’s Choral Pilgrimage as well as our Palestrina CD series as he has done with all the Spanish and Italian Renaissance music we have performed over the years. Likewise, Sally Dunkley is meticulous and ever conscious of presenting excellent performing editions of music from Tudor England. Of course we sing in a stylish manner befitting this music but there “authenticity” ceases. We must always remember that all of this music was for the adornment of the liturgy. What we are doing is taking it out of that context and bringing it into a concert programme and in doing so we must bring the music to life for a 21st-century audience. I make a point of interpreting the music, bringing out its emotional traits, and enriching the text.

Do you find you have to adopt a different approach for producing a recording than in a live environment?

Yes – “live” has to be just that. The choir know full well that I may do something different in each performance. We never go onto auto-pilot. Different acoustics will account for variations in speed, dynamics and, indeed, my interpretation. Recording is completely different although I do like a more performance feel with longer takes and not being bogged down in total perfection. Of course there are many things I may do in performance which would not transfer well onto CD.

How much influence do you have in regard to where you record your performances, do you have a particular favourite venue or studio?
I always choose the venue for our recordings. These days financial constraints mean we cannot afford to go outside London to venues where we know we will have peace and quiet with no extraneous noises. However, London does contain some glorious places for recording. My present favourite is St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn – there is a richness and a wonderful tail to the sound there which is perfect for both singers and instrumentalists. It is so diverse – last year we recorded Handel’s Jephtha, Monteverdi’s Vespers, Purcell’s Indian Queen and the Choral Pilgrimage CD of Guerrero and Lobo, so from a large ensemble for Jephtha to the more chamber feel of Indian Queen and finally the glorious a cappella music of Guerrero and Lobo. I also adore the fullness of sound that St Alban’s Church in Holborn produces and this is where we record our Palestrina series. In both of these places we use as little of the church acoustics or as much as we want – we never do anything that is artificial with the sound.

You’ve mentioned in the past that, apart from Classical repertoire, you like to listen to Led Zeppelin, do you have a favourite Zeppelin album? And would you ever consider arranging some classic Zeppelin tracks for a cappella voices? Are there any other rock bands you like to listen to?
It’s a toss-up between Led Zepp 4 or 1… then again there’s 3!!! I’m a big Rolling Stones fan but I also like Ben Folds and Jack Johnson. I also love Jethro Tull and they us! We’ve just been touring Australia and John Evan came to our concert and loved it!! But no – I would never consider arranging tracks for a capella voices.

Thank you Harry for the time taken to answer my questions. Good luck for your performance in Oxford!

Also released next week is:

GG_GorczyckiThe third disc in The Sixteen’s acclaimed series of Polish music, conducted by Associate Conductor, Eamonn Dougan, explores the work of Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki (1665–1734). Regarded as the outstanding Polish composer of the high baroque, Gorczycki studied in Prague and Vienna in his early years and returned to Kraków in 1690 where he took holy orders. He was appointed Magister capellae at Wawel Cathedral in 1698, a position he held until his death.

If you would like to attend the drinks reception prior to the concert please contact Luke:


Blackwell’s Music Presents The King’s Singers

Thursday, Jun 20, 2013 at 1:30 PM


One of the world’s most celebrated ensembles, The King’s Singers have a packed schedule of concerts, recordings, media and education work that spans the globe. They champion the work of both young and established composers and are instantly recognisable for their spot-on intonation, impeccable vocal blend, flawless articulation of the text and incisive timing. They are also consummate entertainers: a class act with a delightfully British wit.

During the 2012-13 concert season, The King’s Singers will perform across the globe in some of the world’s most famous venues, including Carnegie Hall, King’s College Chapel and Dresden Frauenkirche. With a discography of over 150 recordings, The King’s Singers have garnered both awards and significant critical acclaim, including a Grammy® in 2009 for their studio album ‘Simple Gifts’ on Signum.

The group will be joining us in our world-famous Norrington Room for a free performance from 13:30. Make sure to arrive early so you don’t miss out!

This is a free performance. For more information, please email

Our Music shop has relocated!

Our Music Shop is now in place in a brand new home attached to the main shop.

music5New shop floor space has been opened up at the flagship bookshop by removing a staircase and opening up a room that was previously a large stock room, as well as freeing up the ‘Oxford shop’ – the room on the other side of The White Horse pub

Music1The Music Shop’s new home looks great and provides yet another reason for people to visit the world-famous Norrington Room – music4one of the world’s most magnificent rooms of books, built in 1966, which has two and a half miles of shelving and is built beneath the Trinity College quad

The Music Shop specialises in classical CD recordings, music books, printed music, instruments and other accessories and is one of the most respected such places in the UK music2
But it’s not just classical music – the shop stocks printed music and books covering all genres of music, and the recordings department has sections on Classical, Jazz, World and Folk music, as well as local artists.
There is a single sheet download service available in the bookshop

It also stocks instruments and instrument accessories including music3Acoustic guitars, Ukuleles, Violins, Strings, Sticks, Reeds and Rosin; plus a range of music themed cards and gifts

Just like many Blackwell’s Bookshops, Blackwell’s Music prides itself in the abilities of its staff to offer expert advice. Peter McMullin, one of the most experienced members of staff is recognised both locally and across the industry as being one of the most impressive and knowledgeable specialists in his area – he recently won an award to this effect, being named Printed Music Retailer of the Year at the 2011 MIA Awards

Blackwell’s Music has an especially good relationship with a range of institutions and schools

The Music Shop has a long and proud history in Oxford
The original Blackwell’s Music Shop was located in Holywell Street
It as on the right of the King’s Arms Garage. Before a garage for  housing vehicles for customers/guests staying at the pub, could have been stables and courtyard area, where Shakespeare’s King’s Players  parked their carts and horses when they performed several times at this place, and became the most popular place in the area for them in the 17th century. (The main entrance to the pub was in Holywell Street).
Blacking of horse leathers was carried out here in the yard in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1955 the King’s Arms passageway coming between the two rooms here where Blackwell started the Music Shop. Sir Basil Blackwell had been so impressed by the sales of the 1954 edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music that he felt music merited a separate shop.
In 1955 Mr F. J. Dymond was Manager, and under his management the business expanded considerably.
In 1970 a spacious new building was designed by Gillespie, Kidd and Coia to fit in with the street scene.
Over a mile of shelving was constructed to house the ever-increasing output of standard music literature from publishers all over the world.
The stock at this stage comprised at least 25,000 different items of printed music and 4,000 different books on music, both in English and other languages.
The staff were now twenty-one in number.
Sir Adrian Boult who conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra officially opened the new shop in 1970 on the 9th November. He studied here at Christ Church 62 years before.
The Music Shop then moved to 23-25 Broad Street in 2000
And now a new chapter…

To celebrate the move we have a vibrant programme of musical events planned. These events include:
The Sixteen – Saturday 13th April at 4.30pm
thesixteenThe Sixteen, established 32 years ago,  is recognised as one of the world’s greatest ensembles. Comprising both choir and period-instrument orchestra, The Sixteen’s total commitment to the music it performs is its greatest distinction. A special reputation for performing early English polyphony, masterpieces of the Renaissance, bringing fresh insights into Baroque and early Classical music and a diversity of 20th-century music, is drawn from the passions of conductor and founder Harry Christophers, who will sign CDs for half an hour after the event.

Out of the Blue – Friday 26th April at 5.30pm
ootblogoOut of the Blue is an all-male a cappella group from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University in England. The student-run group sings an eclectic mix of songs, focusing on covers of modern rock and pop hits.

Oxford Belles – Saturday 27th April at 5.30pm
The Oxford Belles are Oxford’s sassiest, original, all-female a cappella group, oxfordbellesmade up entirely of Oxford and Oxford Brookes students.

opera-anywhere-logoOpera Anywhere are an opera company which specialises in site-specific opera. At the end of May, there are bringing two productions to Blackwell’s Bookshop: one week of The Mikado followed by a week of The Pirates of Penzance.

We look forward to welcoming you…