Multi-generational Spring music composition

At Newnham College, we have a rich and varied musical history. Every year the talents of our students and alumnae inspire, and this performance from Charlie Pemberton and accompanied by Sarah MacDonald is no different. The mother-daughter musical composition powerhouses –  Janet Wheeler and Sarah Cattley – give us the perfect music for the words of Khalil Gibran and Fredegond Shove. Inspired by the much-loved gardens of Newnham, we hope this performance will bring a musical breath of fresh air and the multi-generational spirit of Newnham to your ears.

Read more here.

words: Fredegond Shove (NC 1910)
music: Sarah Cattley (NC 2013)

words: Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)
music: Janet Wheeler (NC 1975)

Sung by Charlie Pemberton (NC 2016), accompanied by Sarah MacDonald (Director of Music at Selwyn College). Recorded in the Old Labs on Tues 1 Sept 2020.


CHARLIE PEMBERTON, SOPRANO is a first-year Classics PhD student at Newnham College. She recently completed her undergraduate studies and MPhil, also at Newnham, graduating with a Double First and Distinction respectively. Since coming to Cambridge, Charlie has been a choral scholar in the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, directed by Sarah MacDonald. With the Chapel Choir, she has toured the East and West Coasts of the USA, led evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, recorded four commercial CDs, sung in the premières of commissions by James MacMillan and Paul Mealor, and featured on BBC Radio 3. With the Rodolfus Choir (directed by Ralph Allwood), she performed both as chorister and soloist in the Royal Festival Hall and St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

Charlie gained her vocal diploma (DipABRSM) before coming to Cambridge in 2016, under the auspices of Baroque specialist Lorna Anderson. She was also the winner of her county’s inaugural Young Singer of the Year competition, and performed the leading role in her school’s semi-staged production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. She recently reprised this role in Greece as part of the 2019 Horto Music Festival, directed by Timothy Brown, with whom she travelled to Austria the previous summer as the soprano soloist in a performance of Haydn’s Nelson Mass. She has played the role of Cathleen in Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea with Selwyn Chamber Opera, and has given several recitals at Selwyn and Newnham, the most recent as part of the Minerva Festival. She is taught by Anita Morrison.

SARAH MACDONALD, PIANO, is a Canadian organist, conductor, and composer, living in the UK, and she holds the positions of Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. She has been at Selwyn since 1999, and is the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. She was Director of Music at Newnham College from 2000 to 2010. Sarah studied in the Glenn Gould Professional School in Toronto and at the University of Cambridge. Her teachers included Leon Fleisher, Marek Jablonski, John Tuttle, and David Sanger. Sarah is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and was recently awarded the Associateship of the Royal School of Church Music. She has made over 35 commercial recordings, and her many published choral compositions are widely performed internationally. She leads a busy international career directing, writing, recording, and composing.