CATHEDRAL choristers are in fine voice for a concert to celebrate the English choral tradition.
Gloria, by John Rutter, tops the bill of the concert at Chester Cathedral on Saturday, October 18. Other works include Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia and Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars by Edward Elgar.
Director of music, Philip Rushforth, himself a Cathedral chorister, spends every day working with the young boys, girls and lay clerks (men of the choir).
“Being a chorister offers singers the chance to work to professional standards and develop a love of fantastic music.
“I consider it a major achievement when I can teach a young 10-year old boy to sing and appreciate 16th century music.”
The choral tradition at Chester Cathedral is 900 years old, dating from the foundation of the Benedictine Abbey of St Werburgh’s.
Records from 1518 make reference to six boy choristers who were taught by the organist John Byrcheley.
The abbey was dissolved in 1540 and founded as a cathedral by Henry VIII in 1541.
The Chester Cathedral School closed in 1976 and choristers now come from local schools.
The choir is made up of boy trebles, aged seven to about 14, male lay clerks and, since 1997, girl choristers, aged eight to 18.
The choir sings ten choral services each week, plus a wide range of special services, concerts and recordings. It has a large choral repertoire ranging from plainsong chant to spirituals, worship songs and modern music.
The boy's choir sing choral evensong every Wednesday and alternate weekends with the lay clerks. The girl's choir sings evensong every Friday and every other weekend with the clerks. Occasionally the boys and girls sing together in concerts.
Mr Rushforth added: “It is this tradition, unique to our British cathedrals, that we still uphold and celebrate today, where the voices of the choristers and lay clerks have been heard for centuries offering praise to God.”
Director of Music Philip Rushforth is always keen to hear from prospective parents of choristers. Telephone him on 01244 500974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chester Cathedral Choir in concert with Manchester Brass Collective is on Saturday, October 18 at 7.30pm, featuring director Philip Rushforth and organist Ian Roberts. Tickets £10 unreserved (£8 concessions), £20 premium seats with post concert reception available from Chester Cathedral shop or telephone 01244 311586.
Pictures from the Cathedral choir rehearsals will be featured in the Celebrations section of this Friday’s edition of The Chronicle, on sale from October 10.