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Cathedral and Church Choirs

Covers choirs in cathedrals and churches, also such as the Oxbridge chapel choirs, which have a significant and distinctive concert and recital programme, separate from and in addition to their worship service roles. I have also included here a number of chamber choirs which focus on singing choral evensong and similar in places of worship - usually whilst the resident choirs are on vacation. The Website Choral Evensong provides a useful overview of activity in this arena.

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'The Alleyn Singers is an adult choir which visits cathedrals and other major churches three to four times a year to lead services when the regular choir is not singing. Its members are all experienced singers.'

 

‘A group of singers dedicated to performing The Glorious Cathedral music of England and Europe ... First formed in Spring 2005 in Bishop Auckland, offers a wonderful opportunity for capable amateur singers to rise to the challenge of performing music from our glorious heritage of church music, the music of the great cathedral choirs of England and of Europe, alongside secular items like madrigals and part-songs ... An occasional choir ... by nature inter-church and inter-denominational and in no sense competes with parish choirs singing every Sunday in their own churches; indeed some of our members have been Choirmasters themselves in other churches some distance away.’

 

‘One of the leading choral ensembles in the region. The group give a varied annual programme of concerts each year at Blackburn Cathedral (where they are based), and also take part in a number of services there throughout the church year. The choir is also delighted to be invited to sing at other venues both in Lancashire and further afield ... The choir's repertoire is broad, including sacred and secular choral music spanning five centuries. Each season the programmes range from small-scale unaccompanied works to performances with orchestra.’

 

 

Also indexedRenaissance Singers [Blackburn]

'The Choir, consisting of some thirty-six boys and twenty-five men, sings the two principal Services at 11.00 and 6.30 on most Sundays of the year. Tours to the Isle of Man and to France feature regularly in the Choir’s annual programme, as well as visits to Cathedral Churches in the UK.'

 

‘Amateur choir based at at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh ... We usually present two choir concerts a year in Edinburgh. We also sing the Cathedral services about six times a year when the Cathedral Choir is on holiday; in return, the cathedral allows us to rehearse in the lovely Song School, with its famous murals by Phoebe Traquair.‘

 

‘Since the founding of a mixed voice choir in 1971, the Choir of Clare College has gained an international reputation as one of the leading university choral groups in the world. In addition to its primary function of leading services three times a week in the College chapel, the choir keeps an active schedule recording, broadcasting, and performing throughout the UK and the world.’

 

‘Vocal ensemble specialising in renaissance polyphony and other early music ... Our repertoire also includes other early music, from mediaeval plainchant, up to works from the middle of the Seventeenth Century, with an occasional foray into some of those more recent works which are inspired by early music ... So far, we find we have grown by invitation and by word-of-mouth. However, if you enjoy singing polyphony, have good sight-reading ability, feel up to the demands of one- or two-to-a-part singing and might be interested to sing with us, whether occasionally or possibly more regularly, please get in touch,’

 

‘Aim is to perform sacred choral music to the highest standard within its original liturgical setting, and to share this experience with congregations in East London. Initially resident at Christ Church Isle of Dogs, it now enjoys a busy life of its own. Alongside its primary mission of touring Parish Churches, "ELEC" also makes regular choir visits to major churches and cathedrals. Although, as envisaged, our membership is largely drawn from East London, it also includes singers from across the home counties and beyond. Members were quickly attracted by the opportunity to immerse themselves in a style of music which has fallen out of favour in many churches; not to mention the low commitment, high quality ethos of the choir. Alongside the many gems of the English Choral Tradition, we make a point of exploring European and American sacred music, and indeed some appropriate secular repertoire.‘

 

‘Provide the music for the choral services in the cathedrals and greater churches of Britain while their own choirs are on holiday, allowing the musical tradition of these places to continue during the holiday season ... The members of the choir meet on the day of each visit only and rehearse at the venue. Because of this our members must be able to sight-read to a high level and cope with the limited rehearsal time, but it does mean that our members can come from all over the country ... The Harsnett Choir is named after Samuel Harsnett, the son of a Colchester baker. He was born in 1561, and between 1597 and 1605 was Vicar of Chigwell Parish Church in Essex ... The Choir chose the name as a happy reminder of its origins.’

 

‘Founded in 1955 by a small group of church music enthusiasts, whose aim was to bring to the churches of Somerset part of the choral heritage of the Church of England. The choir was first known as the Rural Church Singers. They became well-known to many small country congregations to whom they travelled to sing Choral Evensong ... Our mission remains: to maintain access to the cathedral musical tradition for those whose resources or style of worship would not otherwise provide that opportunity. Most members live in the Wellington/Taunton areas. We generally sing two or three services in locations within reasonable travel distance from Taunton ... We also sing services in cathedrals up and down the land.’

 

‘The Choirs of Jesus College are uniquely involved in the local community of Cambridge. Rather than maintaining a choir school, Jesus recruits all its Choristers from local schools, helping many young boys to gain access to an excellent and varied musical education. Additionally, the Choirs run Singing Days and “Be a Chorister for a Day” events. These are often held jointly with the girls' choir at St Catharine’s College, are not primarily intended as recruitment events, but allow the College to share its facilities and expertise with the local community.’

 

'Singing at daily Chapel services is the Choir's primary duty, and has been since the foundation of King’s College in 1441, when King Henry VI envisaged that the Choir would provide music for the daily offices and celebrations of the Mass in his new Chapel. Daily services are not the Choir’s sole commitment today though: its worldwide fame and reputation, enhanced by its many recordings, has led to invitations to perform around the globe, and to an extensive international tour schedule ...'

 

‘Formed in 1991 to deputise at services in Cathedrals, Priories, Abbeys and Greater Churches when their own choirs are on holiday. Over the years, the choir’s repertoire has expanded to include light and secular as well as sacred music, enabling the choir to perform for charity events and other occasions such as weddings and funerals.’

 

‘We take our name from Lees Court, a converted stately home near the village of Sheldwich in Kent, where in 1979 a few of the residents formed an informal group of keen amateur singers. From those small beginnings, the group has grown in number and has gained a reputation as one of the most versatile choral ensembles in the county, performing a repertoire spanning ten centuries in a range of styles which has left its gentle, amateur origins rather far behind ... Performances have included recitals in Holland, Luxembourg and France, and cathedral services across the south of England and Wales. We are also proud to maintain a strong relationship with Canterbury Cathedral, having been invited to sing services and other performances there on a regular basis. By contrast much of our work consists of concerts in small country churches in Kent in support of local fund-raising initiatives.’

 

‘Reviving Our Heritage of Synagogue Music ... The London Cantorial Singers were formed by Ian Lyons in 1995, in order to promote and perpetuate his love of traditional liturgical music, which is vanishing into obscurity from today’s synagogue services. The aim of the Choir is to perform synagogue music, once popular but now rarely heard, as far as possible in the composers’ original settings. Our repertoire also includes Israeli and Yiddish popular songs. To fulfil these aims the Choir performs across the whole range of Jewish events including concerts, musical evenings, Selichot and Sefirah services, full chazan-choral Shabbat services, Weddings, Bat Chayil and Bar Mitzvah services, in order to educate and to improve public interest in and knowledge of the art of Jewish Cantorial music.’

 

Magdalen College is one of the oldest choral foundations in England, with an unbroken tradition stretching back to 1480. The Choir retains much the same shape as it had in the fifteenth century, with sixteen boy Choristers (educated at Magdalen College School) and twelve adult Academical Clerks (undergraduates of the College) ... The Choir’s principal role is singing the daily Chapel services, at 6 pm every evening (except Mondays) in Full Term, and every Sunday morning in Term at 11 am ... The Choir also sings at special occasions in College throughout the year, including the famous May Morning celebrations, an ancient tradition dating back to 1509. Beyond the Chapel, the Choir records regularly and performs in concerts and broadcasts to appreciative audiences all over the world.’

 

'Sings at many of the major services held in Motherwell Cathedral, and some choir members sing at the 5.30pm vigil Mass on Saturdays. Many of our members also sing with their own Parish Choirs on a Sunday, as the choir commitments rarely interfere with the local church services.'

 

Founded 26 November 1379: ‘New College Choir is one of the most celebrated and acclaimed choral groups of the UK. It comprises around thirty voices, including its famous boy choristers. It has been around since the late 14th century, when William of Wykeham set up a choral foundation within his “New” College; since then it has regularly sung chapel services, and continues to do so during the University terms (you can drop into Evensong any night of the week – bar Wednesday – and listen)’.

 

‘The Queen’s College has a strong musical tradition, and the mixed-voice chapel choir of twenty-eight singers is recognised as one of the finest such groups in Oxford and Cambridge .. iincluding some twenty Choral Scholars who are students of the College, Choral Exhibitioners from other colleges, and two professional Lay Clerks ... Its extensive concert schedule involves appearances across the UK and abroad, including work with such professional ensembles as the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Brook Street Band ... Its wide-ranging repertory includes a rich array of music from Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces to contemporary works, including commissions. During the academic year the choir provides the music for regular services in the College’s splendid Baroque Chapel.’

 

Formed in 1980 ‘to give concerts (featuring and extending their repertoire to include reputable chamber choral works), to sing church services (in local churches), and to undertake a week-long summer residential visit or tour, when the choir would deputise for an English Cathedral choir for a week or so ... In addition to singing services at a number of Abbeys and Minsters and performance of many concerts, both religious and secular, in and around the Preston area, the Choir has undertaken a civic role for the City of Preston - singing for Mayoral Services, Christmas Charity Events, annual carol concerts'.

 

‘As Gloucester Cathedral's affiliated chamber choir we are privileged to perform regularly in that glorious building. We are also available for concert series, charity fundraising and private events such as weddings. A friendly group of about thirty men and women, we enjoy performing a very wide repertoire of sacred and secular music to professional standards ... Founded in 1949 by Donald Hunt, the choir has throughout most its ... history been conducted by the Assistant Director of Music of Gloucester Cathedral.’

 

‘Based at St George's RAF Chapel in Biggin Hill ... Singers are drawn from the local community and the choir gives a number of concerts each year as well as providing a choir for the major services at St George's Chapel (Battle of Britain, Remembrance, St George's Day etc) ... There are opportunities for cathedral visits and also overseas tours. Most recently choir members have been to Malta, Venice, France and Rome. New members are always welcome.’

 

'One of the finest collegiate choirs in the world – known and loved by millions from its broadcasts, concert tours and over 90 recordings. Founded in the 1670s, the Choir is known for its rich, warm and distinctive sound, its expressive interpretations and its ability to sing in a variety of styles. Alongside this discipline, the Choir is particularly proud of its happy, relaxed and mutually supportive atmosphere.'

 

‘Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum of Dean Close Preparatory School is the choir of men and boys who, under the direction of Simon Bell, sing the weekday services in Tewkesbury Abbey. Whilst this is their primary focus, they also undertake a full programme of tours, broadcasts and recordings.’

 

Also indexedDean Close Preparatory School

'Hailed in 2011 by an international jury from Gramophone Magazine as the greatest choir with children in the world, and the sixth greatest overall. The choir celebrated its 1100th birthday in 2009: boys first sang at Wells Cathedral in 909 and the full choral tradition dates back over 800 years. In 1994 the choral foundation at Wells was enriched by the addition of girl choristers ... The Vicars Choral are the men of the Cathedral Choir. They are not in holy orders; the word "vicar" comes from "vice" and simply means a deputy (as in vice-president) ... Wells Cathedral Voluntary Choir was formed in 1986 to sing services in the cathedral when the professional choir was on holiday or performing elsewhere. It is an amateur, mixed voice choir trained to sing liturgical music, although it does occasional other music ... Every summer we spend a week in residence at another cathedral.'

 

Also indexedVicars Choral | Wells Cathedral Voluntary Choir

‘When William of Wykeham founded Winchester College in 1382 he made provision for 16 boys called Quiristers to sing the Chapel services. The school has maintained its mediaeval choral foundation for more than 600 years and today this lies at the heart of a flourishing choral tradition, noted for its excellence and diversity ... The Quiristers also sing as a boys' choir in their own right and give regular concerts for local charities as well as broadcasts for radio and television.'

 

Also indexedThe Quiristers

'This Website aims to promote Choral Evensong by making it easy to search for services across the British Isles. Using just a place name or postcode one can find relevant information about cathedrals, churches, the type of choir, weekly service schedules, music lists, and contact details. Many people love the music of choral evensong services, which are arguably one of the glories of Britain. They are also free of charge. We think this wonderful tradition deserves to be better known.'

 

‘The Federation of Cathedral Old Choristers’ Associations (FCOCA) exists for the benefit of those Associations to which old (former) choristers of any of the following foundations can belong: Cathedrals, Chapels Royal, Collegiate Churches, College Chapels of Oxford and Cambridge, and such other Choral Foundations as may from time to time be recommended by the Executive Committee for affiliation to the Federation ... The Federation exists to promote friendship amongst people from like backgrounds, to assist in maintaining and improving the high standard of cathedral music and help member associations to enter closer contact with one another.‘

 

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