One of two choirs associated with Jesus College, Cambridge University, the Jesus College Choir participates in musical liturgy at the College, sings at other College functions, and has carved out a distinctive profile as a recording ensemble in the crowded field of English university choral ensemble.
Choral music-making at Jesus College goes back to the College's founding in the years after 1500, and in 1849 the Jesus College Chapel Choir was founded; it consists of male singers from the college plus boy choristers from local schools. In 1980, the Jesus College Choir, originally the Jesus College Mixed Choir, was founded with the intention of giving female undergraduates a role in the school's musical life. It includes about 28 male and female singers, all students at the College. The College Choir and the Chapel Choir perform together in larger works. The College Choir sings twice a week at Evensong services, as well as performing at College feasts, other official functions, and freestanding concerts in Cambridge, throughout the U.K., and abroad. Mark Williams was the choir's director from 2009 to 2016, when he was supplanted by Richard Pinel. The group has been heard at the BBC Proms (as part of Cambridge's 800th anniversary celebrations) and has broadcast on television and radio. The choir has toured Germany, France, and Hong Kong, and has appeared in India and Sri Lanka in performances to benefit poverty-relief organizations.
Perhaps the most distinctive development in the choir's recent history has been its growing recording career. After several recordings for the Argo, Naxos, and Griffin labels, the Jesus College Choir was signed to the Signum Classics label and released Journey Into Light: Music for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and Candlemas in 2012. There followed a series of albums for the most part devoted thematically to sacred and secular observances rather than to specific repertory works. An exception was the 2017 release Byrd, Britten.