Music is an integral part of our worship and the Cathedral takes great pride in the music performed at its Services.
David Flood is the Master of the Cathedral choristers and the Cathedral organist, and as such responsible for every aspect of the Cathedral’s music programme. David has been Organist and Master of the Choristers since 1988, having been Organist of Lincoln Cathedral before that and initially Assistant Organist at Canterbury Cathedral.
David Newsholme – Assistant Organist
William Wallace – Organ Scholar
The Choir and Choristers
The choir consists of 12 lay clerks – professional singers who also work locally – and 25 choristers, boys between 8 and 13 years old. Each year in November, Dr Flood chooses five or six new choristers to replace those who leave, auditioning them from the many who apply.
He looks for “an acute ear, the makings of a voice, intelligence and a sparkle in the eye.”
The choir’s repertoire is wide and always expanding, as they learn and perform music from the 13th century to newly-composed works.
In each two-week period there is always a mixture of styles and composers so that there is something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.
To complete the staff team, the Assistant Organist and the Organ Scholar provide invaluable support and remarkable talent.
The 12 Lay Clerks (4 basses, 4 tenors and 4 countertenors) all have a high standard of vocal training and ability and, while following a parallel career in another field, sing at Services most days. Evensong on a Wednesday is normally sung by the Lay Clerks alone. Since the post of Lay Clerk is part-time (involving an hour or so each evening), it requires great commitment to fit the singing in and around other work. Since Services are sung on Saturdays and Sundays; Lay Clerks rarely have a free day.
The Canterbury tradition of Cathedral music is something very special indeed, since it is so vibrant and it encompasses both the ancient and the modern. At the daily Services, we celebrate the great corpus of music written for the English choral tradition, as well as the great examples from other parts of the world. It is an important heritage and tradition, which is appreciated by people from all over the world, and we are dedicated to maintaining and enhancing it.
Boys join the Cathedral choir at 8 years old and continue until the summer when they are 13. Dr Flood is always delighted to meet parents and their sons to explain the unique experience of a Choristership and to discover and develop exciting new talent. Formal voice trials are held each year in November.
Choristers live in the Choir House, an ancient and beautiful building, located immediately next to the Cathedral, which underwent a magnificent renovation in 2008. They attend St Edmund’s School, where they enjoy an excellent and fulfilling academic, musical and all-round education. As well as enjoying the family community of the Choir House, choristers benefit from the bigger community and facilities of the school; a collaboration enormously appreciated by hundreds of past choristers and their parents.
Each chorister enjoys a substantial scholarship provided by the Dean and Chapter. They also study two musical instruments and have weekly theory classes. When their time comes to move on from the choir, choristers regularly win substantial scholarships to senior schools, either locally or further afield.
The choir is involved in all the very special events which take place in the Cathedral and makes recordings, broadcasts and concert appearances on a regular basis. They are greatly in demand for overseas travel, especially as we are pleased to welcome so many pilgrims, visitors and guests from around the world. A Choristership in Canterbury Cathedral is a wonderful adventure and a life-enhancing experience.