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Champagne Concerts During the Senior Library Project

The Champagne Concerts were started fifteen years ago. Taking place twice a year, in May and October, they have provided a welcome opportunity for Oriel alumni and their guests to come back to College, enjoy a convivial supper, attend a splendid concert and socialise with current College members.

The concerts get their name from the interval during the programme when sparkling wine is served. The etiquette here, as stipulated by Sir Derek Morris, who was among the founders of the concerts, is that one must not talk to people of one’s own age!

The schedule of concerts mixes established artists — such as Elizabeth Llewellyn, who gave a beautiful song recital of Coleridge Taylor and Brahms with the accompanist Simon Lepper last autumn — and early-career professionals. Sometimes there is a showcase for College musicians.

Concerts have usually taken place in the Senior Library. The fine Steinway grand piano and the intimacy of that location have given the concerts a special ambience. The Senior Library is now unavailable for use until 2026, whilst structural works are carried out. The Champagne Concerts will continue, but some changes will be necessary:

  1. It is still planned to present two concerts per year. These will take place either in the University Church or in the College Chapel (according to the programme).
  2. During the work in the kitchens over the coming year, it will not be possible to offer dinner with the concert. It is hoped that this provision will resume once work is completed.
  3. The Champagne Concerts are supported by a generous financial float donated by the founders of the series. With inflation, rising costs and increases in the fees paid to musicians, it will be necessary to raise the price of the paid tickets (for alumni) to £40 from October 2023.

The  concert this autumn will be on Friday 6th October and will be given by the pianist, Yevgeny Sudbin, hailed in the Daily Telegraph as ‘potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century’. It will take place in the University Church of St Mary. You can book tickets on our website.

We hope that you will understand the reasons for these changes and that you will continue to support these wonderful concerts.

Julian Armstrong (1962, Law) and Hugh D. Bryant (1969, PPE) on behalf of Oriel Music Society Committee