Canterbury Cathedral Choir
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About Canterbury Cathedral Choir
Canterbury Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded in 597 and is one of the oldest Christian structures in the world. Choral musical worship has been part of the cathedral since its founding, albeit sometimes from Benedictine monks. Today, the Canterbury Cathedral Choir consists of 25 boy choristers, 12 lay clerks, and a girls' choir of about 20, established in 2014 and already much publicized. These groups perform separately and, especially for major liturgical occasions, together.
The boy choristers, ages eight to 13, reside in the ancient Choir House next to the Cathedral. Fully supported by scholarships, they attend St. Edmunds School in Canterbury, taking general classes as well as studying two musical instruments and music theory. They sing at all the weekly Evensong services except for Wednesday's, which is sung by the lay clerks alone. The 12 lay clerks (four each of basses, tenors, and countertenors) are professional singers, part-time, but with a demanding schedule that includes singing on both Saturdays and Sundays. The Girls' Choir performs twice a month at Evensong, often with the lay clerks. Aged 12 to 18, they attend school in Canterbury and beyond. The current director of the Canterbury Cathedral Choir is David Flood, who holds open auditions for the boys' and girls' ensembles each fall; five or six singers in each choir age out every year and are replaced.
The choir does not have the large recording catalog of some of Britain's larger cathedral choirs, mostly issuing periodic recordings of liturgical and seasonal music. The international popularity of the Girls' Choir, however, led to its signing by the Signum label and promotion in the BBC Music Magazine; the girls and the lay clerks released the album Great Cathedral Anthems, featuring works from the Renaissance and the 19th and 20th centuries, in February of 2018. ~ James Manheim