2009: The University of Cambridge celebrates its 800th anniversary

In 1209, “groups of scholars congregate at the ancient Roman trading post of Cambridge for the purpose of study, the earliest record of the University.” The rest, as they say, is history …

cam-octo800: splendid new website (link to homepage)
Anniversary Events page: from which this introductory excerpt:

In 2009, the University reaches a special milestone – 800 years of people, ideas and achievements that continue to transform and benefit the world.

In marking the year, we aim to strike a balance between academic achievement and celebration, respect the past, celebrate the present and leave a legacy for the future. We are keen to ensure that many of the ideas and plans for the 800th Anniversary provide a springboard for the future – starting something fresh that will grow in years to come.

Above all, we want to thank staff, students (past and present), their families and local residents for their contribution towards making the University what it is today.

The 800th Anniversary will be marked through a variety of events thoughout the year. Please check back as more events are added.

Full Calendar of Events: some forthcoming highlights, as selected by your Administratrix:

Ringing in the Year (17 January)
The first Saturday of Lent Term, marks the launch of the University’s 800th Anniversary celebrations. At 7.15 p.m. churches in central Cambridge, including the University Church Great St Mary’s, will be Ringing in the Year by ringing touches of 800 changes especially composed for the occasion by Clare College alumnus Phil Earis. Details of the touches can be seen here. Churches, college chapels and alumni groups worldwide are invited to participate. Encourage your local bell-ringing community to get involved and help celebrate this landmark occasion.

Sermon from the Hulsean Preacher (25 January)
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, FBA, Honorary Fellow of Clare College and of Christ’s College, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and Primate of All England will give his sermon at Great St Mary’s Church.

Endellion String Quartet concert series (approx. monthly)
The University of Cambridge’s 800th Anniversary coincides with the 30th Anniversary of The Endellion String Quartet.  To celebrate this occasion, amongst other events, the Quartet is thrilled to be presenting a special series of concerts highlighting the works of composers with Cambridge connections.

Cambridge Cantat 800: A Celebration of Cambridge Choirs (April)
A week-long festival of choral and organ music showcasing the very best that the Cambridge choral tradition has to offer.  You will find during our Festival week events to suit all tastes.  Organ and choral recitals galore, workshops and participatory events, a song recital and late-night services.  The Haydn anniversary is marked in several of our programmes, while Cambridge composers and manuscripts feature in others.

Sermon from the Ramsden Preacher (31 May)
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Lord Archbishop of York will give a sermon at Great St Mary’s Church.

CRASSH Conference: Changing the Humanities/The Humanities Changing (July)
A major international conference designed to showcase the Humanities and to inquire into their current standing and disciplinary formations. Leading critical thinkers from Cambridge and elsewhere will take stock of the changing role and significance of the Humanities, inside and outside the university. The conference aims to look both comparatively and historically at the Humanities, including the interpretative Social Sciences, as well as the ways in which they relate to Science and Technology.

Festival of Ideas (October-November)
– in arts, humanities and social sciences, involving numerous museums and departments, and collaborating with several educational and community partners. For visitors of all ages to understand more about the world we live in, on a global and local scale – from politics to the study of different cultures, to the stories behind paintings, hidden trails around the city of Cambridge and beyond. Talks, performances and discussions to get you thinking. Events in history, literature, languages, drama, art and much more. Find out how to take your interests further, watch fascinating performances and discover how the study of arts, humanities and social sciences helps us understand vital issues past, present and future.

Collegium Musicum (13 November)
The University’s Baroque Orchestra, is joined by two of Cambridge’s leading mixed voice choirs. The resulting choir will produce fresh choral singing of the very best quality. The programme is very varied, with music from the 17th to the 21st centuries. The programme celebrates the anniversaries of Handel and Purcell and includes the first performance of Christopher Brown’s moving setting of words by Archbishop Rowan Williams, one time Clare student. Christopher Brown is known for his tuneful and traditional approach to composition, and especially for his skill in writing for choirs. This new work has been commissioned to celebrate the University of Cambridge’s 800th Anniversary.

Cambridge Psalms (22 November)
To mark the 800th anniversary of Cambridge University , Caius College Choir has commissioned a collection of Psalm settings by six composers, representing different generations of Cambridge alumni from the former Professor of Music, Alexander Goehr, to recent graduate, Sasha Siem. Part of the Cambridge Music Festival 2009 (through November)

Last but not least:

‘Octo’ is the unofficial mascot for the 800th Anniversary Year. We will be using Octo in a variety of printed and online materials throughout the year. Octo has already been photographed at the Fitzwilliam Museum, on the Mathematical Bridge at Queens’ College, inside a measuring cylinder in the Department of Chemistry, and on the brim of a Porter’s hat at Gonville and Caius College. If you have an idea of where Octo should be photographed next, please send your suggestions to the 800th Anniversary Team at 800@admin.cam.ac.uk, or telephone the team on (Int.) 00 44 1223 761672 / (UK) 01223 761672.

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