Royales Harmonies

Music from Oxford and Cambridge universities

In early October, the Salle Bourgie, the Tiffany-windowed concert hall inside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, will host a concert including two intriguing and rarely-performed works connected with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

From Oxford, comes the recently rediscovered overture to The Fall of Jericho by William Hayes.  It is believed to have first been performed in the 1740s in the Sheldonian Theatre, at an annual Commemoration of the Founders and Benefactors of the University.  Hayes is an unsung hero of the music of Georgian England, and this work, in four movements for wind and strings, will inspire listeners to search for more of his music.

From Cambridge, comes the exuberant anthem O be Joyful by William Boyce.  It was first performed at Great St Mary’s, the University Church, on 2 July 1749, the day after the Duke of Newcastle had been installed as Chancellor.  With its opening symphony, choruses, and solo, duet, and trio arias, the score has been specially edited for this first performance in North America.

These two works, alongside two pieces by Henry Purcell (Praise the Lord and Come, Ye Sons of Art), will be delivered by the combined forces of the Studio de Musique ancienne de Montréal and the Arion Baroque orchestra, under the direction of Andrew McAnerney (Magdalen 1995).

Friday 7th October 2022, 7:30pm
Saturday 8th October 2022, 4:00pm
Sunday 9th October 2022, 2:30pm
Tickets: 10% discount code OXBRIDGE

If you have ever wondered which university had the better music, come and confirm your suspicion!

The Salle Bourgie is at 1339 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal, QC, H3G 1G2.

For more information, please visit Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (SMAM) or Arion Baroque Orchestra.

Forty Years of Alumni Cricket

The Oxford-Cambridge Alumni Cricket Match’s 40th Anniversary

“Lordy, lordy!  Look who’s forty!”

We congratulate our colleagues in Toronto on the fortieth anniversary of the Oxford vs Cambridge Alumni Cricket Match.  They will hold the anniversary Match on Sunday 18 September 2022.

The very first Match was played in 1982, on the pitches of Lords Grounds at Upper Canada College.  It feels apt that the Match will return to its spiritual birthplace for this anniversary.

The celebrations will include the launch of a new “Michener-Bredin Trophy”, named to honour Terence Bredin and Roland Michener, two of the Match’s founders and most cherished characters.  The trophy has been generously funded by Match alumni and by the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Toronto.

Date: Sunday, 18 September 2022
Time: From 12h00 EDT
Place: Upper Canada College, 200 Lonsdale Rd, Toronto
RSVP: Martin Sykes, e-mail or telephone before 31 August

The Match welcomes spectators and players of all levels and ages.  There will be twenty-five overs per side, and players should wear cricket whites.  A traditional tea break will separate the innings, with food and refreshments provided.  The organisers are charging a modest $25 fee per person, to help defray event costs.

As part of the day’s festivities, Martin Sykes is compiling stories and photos from previous years’ Matches.  If you have any memories or material you would like to share with him, he would receive it enthusiastically.

If you know Oxford or Cambridge alumni who might like to be part of the Match, either as spectators or players, please do share this post with them.

Canada’s 2020 Freshers

The OCST send-off for the cohort of new Canadian students at Oxford and Cambridge

The Oxford and Cambridge Society of Toronto invited our Vice President, Akaash Maharaj, to be part of their virtual send-off event for Canadian Freshers.  His remarks are below.

I was very flattered when the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Toronto invited me to speak to you, the 2020 cohort of Canadian Freshers.

Those feelings were only slightly blunted when the Society explained that they were hoping to offer you the perspective of a “seasoned graduate”, the implication being that I have been well and truly marinated by the years that have passed since I was myself a student at Oxford.

I can not deny that I am more seasoned than fresh.

I read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Teddy Hall.  PPE is, infamously, the degree most associated with people who think they should be running the world, but whose careers tend to prove that there is no limit to the human capacity for self-deception.

The foremost emotion I feel in being with you today is a sense of happy envy of the adventures you are all about to begin.

You will certainly be matriculating at an unusual moment in history.  But Oxford and Cambridge carried on through the Black Death of 1347 and the Great Plague of 1665.  The Pandemic of 2020 will be comparatively trivial, and will likely involve fewer people being burned at the stake.

For me, studying at Oxford completely changed the trajectory of my life.  It opened up new possibilities that I had previously only glimpsed as a distant observer.

Today, I serve as head of the Mosaic Institute, which advances pluralism in societies and peace amongst nations.  It operates through Track Two Diplomacy, and brings together people, communities, and states, to foster mutual understanding and to resolve conflicts.

In every mission I have ever undertaken, I have found myself tripping over other Oxonians: in desperate conflict zones and in the deep ease of diplomatic institutions; in razed villages and in glittering metropolises; on the barricades and in palaces.

Studying at Oxford helped all of us believe that the world could be a more humane and more just place.  It imparted to us a sense of responsibility to advance that dream.  And it gave us the most extraordinary opportunities to work towards making that dream a reality.

I have three observations to offer you, as you start your own journeys at Oxford and Cambridge.

The first is that you will be immersed in an ocean of riches.  The university buildings form part of the built heritage of the human race.  The tuition is intensely intimate.  The extracurricular activities are a marvel of diversity and depth.  And I am embarrassed by how quickly I took it all for granted.

You should savour the moments.  This density of opportunity will almost certainly never come your way again.

The second is that Britain can be a lonely place, especially if you are someone like me, who has had to work to overcome natural shyness.  The English, in particular, tend to be sceptical of easy friendliness, seeing it as glib and superficial.  They are often cutting, and sometimes cruel to one another.

But it is worth the effort to pierce their barriers, because the friendships you make with them will be all the deeper for it.

The third, is that you should do everything you can to maintain those friendships after university.  The true wealth of Oxford and Cambridge lie neither in their architecture nor indeed in their classes, but instead, in the fact that they draw together truly exceptional people, including yourselves.

I have forgotten almost everything I was taught at Oxford, but I remember almost everything I learned, because that came from the conversations, the experiences, and the dreams I nurtured with my peers.

The ties that will bind you together run deeper than the foundations of the modern world.  They have proven more enduring than the countless kingdoms, countries, and empires that have risen and fallen away during the nearly 1000 years since our universities first took root.

You will graduate into a world where societies everywhere are tearing themselves apart over questions of whom they recognise as friends and whom they reject as strangers.

In that context, the greatest gift Oxford gave to me is the knowledge that I am part of a fellowship that reaches across time and around the globe.  It includes people who speak different languages, profess different faiths, come from different ethnic groups, abide in different nations, and have been on opposite sides of history and warfare.

Yet, as Oxonians, we understand that there are no strangers amongst us: only friends we have yet to meet.

I genuinely envy the journey you are all about to begin.  I wish you well in adding to the stories of Oxford and Cambridge, and in adding Oxford and Cambridge to the stories of your lives.

Akaash Maharaj (St Edmund Hall) was the first overseas student elected President of the Oxford University Student Union.  He is Chief Executive Officer of the Mosaic Institute, which advances pluralism in societies and peace between nations. His personal web site is