Musical donations that hit the high notes

Musical donations that hit the high notes
This article is part of our August 2012 E-bulletin. To receive future issues please subscribe here.

As at school, the choir year starts in September and finishes in July. So as summer began, we said a fond farewell to some familiar faces and we look forward to new arrivals in the autumn.

2012 has been a diligent and exciting year for the choir. It has included several ‘firsts’, with first performances at  Canterbury’s New Marlowe theatre, two performances at Sadler’s Wells theatre with harpist Camilla Pay and a successful tour of the Western United States.

The Choir ended their successful year on a high note when they were presented with two generous donations.

The first came in the form of a new wooden music stand. The beautifully carved gift was from a member of the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral in the United States, Karen Metcalf. After a recent visit, Karen was eager that we should have a music stand to match the ‘splendour of the Quire’ and commissioned that such a piece be made. The wooden stand has been carved and engraved by master craftsmen from Houghton’s of York, who recently renovated the Christchurch gates. It now stands elegant in the Quire and will be used for years to come in Services and celebrations.  It was dedicated during the Eucharist on Sunday 24th June.

The second donation was made in July, when a cheque for £30,000 from the The Friends of Cathedral Music (FCM) was presented to the Cathedral during Evensong on Saturday 21st to the Very Reverend Robert Willis, the Dean of Canterbury, by Professor Peter Toyne CBE, Chairman of the FCM and Mr Christopher Gower, who heads the FCM Grants Committee.

The charitable donation will be used to support choral scholarships at the Cathedral. “We are very grateful to the Friends of Cathedral Music for their generous donation,” said Dr David Flood, Cathedral Organist and Master of the Choristers. “The money will go towards a fund which can help families of Cathedral choristers when their own financial situation makes the demands of a choristership difficult.  We are delighted that such support will enable the Cathedral to maintain the level of help through demanding periods in families’ lives.  It is always our aim to give talented children the opportunity they need and our partnership with FCM in this is very welcome.”

The FCM was founded in 1956, to help maintain and extend Britain’s unique and priceless heritage of cathedral music. To date, they have provided grants totalling £1.8 million, to support and encourage cathedral music here and abroad.  These awards are made possible by the subscriptions, donations and legacies from the FCM Members.

So as September approaches the Cathedral choir will welcome new faces. In July we said goodbye to:  Andrew Crittenden and Alastair Ross (Lay Clerks); Andrew Wyatt (Organ Scholar); Thomas Platts, Oliver Wells, Kyle Weston, Zachary Starr and Michael Dianellou (Choristers). In September we will welcome Edward Hewes (Organ Scholar); Adam Leslie (Lay Clerk); Billy Barker, Freddie Baxter, William Boarman-Powell, Oliver Futcher, and Thomas Nordin ( Choristers). Official photographs will be taken over the autumn and we look forward to including these in a future edition of the e-bulletin.

In November, David Flood will hold voice trials for new Chorister for places to begin in September 2013.
Boys who wish to audition should be aged 7 and 8 years and currently be in Year 3 at school, Master of the Choristers, David Flood said, ‘I’m looking for natural potential; a keen ear and a clear voice together with an eagerness to make music. Candidates do not need to have any prior training.’ Substantial and full scholarships are awarded to successful candidates to assist with educational and music tuition fees. Parents who would like further information about life as a chorister, or to book a voice trial, are asked to contact Dr Flood on 01227 865242 or by email at david.flood@canterbury-cathedral.org.

Canterbury Cathedral has one of the longest-established musical foundations in the world, dating back over 1400 years. The Cathedral choir enjoys international recognition, and consists of 12 Lay Clerks, male professional singers who also work locally, and the 25-strong Choristers, boys of 8 – 13 who attend St Edmund’s School in Canterbury. A choristership is a wonderful adventure and a life-enhancing experience. Choristers receive a scholarship from the Cathedral towards their education and board in Choir House in the Cathedral Precincts.

To say being a Chorister in Canterbury Cathedral was a life-changing experience is in no way an exaggeration. They were halcyon days which opened up a whole new world; not only did I make life-long friends, but it was also a time which educated me in music and life, and above all it was full of fun.

Harry Christophers, Conductor and Founder of The Sixteen.