Christmas is traditionally associated with choirs and singing carols and here at Canterbury we are fortunate to have one of the finest choirs in the world. The choir consists of 12 lay clerks, men who are professional singers but also work locally, and the 25-strong choristers, boys aged 8 – 13 who attend St Edmund’s School in Canterbury and live within the Cathedral Precincts in Choir House.
For a talented boy, being a chorister in Canterbury Cathedral Choir is the most wonderfully rewarding experience and training. Candidates need have had no prior training: a keen ear and a clear voice, together with an eagerness to make music are the most important things. Substantial scholarships are awarded to successful candidates and further bursaries and financial assistance can be available too.
At the voice trial on November 5th 2011, 5 new choristers were appointed to begin in September 2012 and they are all very excited. Billy Barker, Freddie Baxter, William Boarman-Powell, Oliver Futcher, and Thomas Nordin will enjoy all the wonderful experiences of being a Canterbury Chorister in future years. Meanwhile, the current team are set for an exciting year, which will include some “firsts” for the choir.
In February 2012, the choristers will sing at the Marlowe Theatre for performances of The Ceremony of Carols (by Benjamin Britten) in a new ballet by the Richard Alston ballet company. They will follow that with two performances at Sadler’s Wells theatre at the end of February. The choristers, together with harpist Camilla Pay, will be on stage in their purple Canterbury cassocks.
Then in April 2012, the whole choir embarks on a two-week tour of Texas and the western United States, visiting Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. It is more unusual for a Cathedral choir to travel to the western states, and the warm reception is already being felt!
Other special events will be the involvement in Sounds New’s performance of the Veil of the Temple by John Taverner, and a newly commissioned jazz mass in June, with performers from Yale University.
Quite a year!
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