Harrison Oxley, former organist and choirmaster of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk has died at age 76.
His introduction of girls into the choir of St Edmundsbury encouraged the formation of the girls’ choir at Salisbury and later at other important cathedrals. The mixed choir had come about as a result of needing extra singers for the instalment of a new bishop, which was going to be televised. Despite opposition, Oxley was allowed to involve eight girls to sing alongside the boys provided they were placed on the side of the choir where the television camera could not see them. Oxley later reported: “I have never been forgiven by some of my colleagues on the Cathedral Organists’ Association. But I do not see why we should bar half of humanity from the benefits and opportunities of cathedral choir membership. In the end most cathedrals will be obliged to follow our lead and will see it as the just and right way forward.” These were prophetic words.
Harrison Oxley: organist and choirmaster from The Times (London)
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