Gloucester Cathedral Choir
About Gloucester Cathedral Choir
One of the oldest among England's famous cathedral choirs, the Gloucester Cathedral Choir is also one of the most distinguished, with a growing recording catalog and several international tours under its belt. The choir dates back to the early Renaissance era.
Choral singing at Gloucester Cathedral dates back to the building's completion in 1499, and the choir as it exists today was founded in 1538 by King Henry VIII. Henry also founded the King's School, which the choristers now attend. That was not always true; for much of its life, the choral school and the King's School were separate, and during its early years, the choir members were the source of trouble in the community. One chorister in 1620 was charged with assault, including a stabbing of the Gloucester city mace bearer, and in 1625, choristers were barred from leaving the cathedral grounds after 10 p.m. After various ups and downs, the choir entered a period of stability in the late 20th century. The King's School became coeducational in 1972, but the choir did not follow until 2016 when Girl Choristers were first admitted. At present, the choir comprises 20 girl choristers and 18 to 20 boys; there are also 12 adult singers, known as lay clerks or choral scholars, depending on whether they are undertaking studies at the cathedral.
The choir has also spawned a Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir, founded in 1999. The Gloucester Cathedral Choir sings at many regular weekly services at the cathedral and at the major Christmas and Easter festivals; the Youth Choir sings at Thursday night services. Many of the singers also attend the King's School and benefit from scholarship support based on their participation in the choir. The Gloucester Cathedral Choir made its first U.S. tour in 1988, appearing at churches in cities such as Macon, Georgia, where English cathedral singing was all but unknown. Since then, the choir has toured North America several more times and has also traveled to Australia. In addition, the choir plays host to England's venerable Three Choirs Festival, most recently in 2019.
The Gloucester Cathedral Choir has issued some 15 recordings, mostly on the Priory label. The group has also recorded for Avie, Griffin, and Somm. Most of the choir's recorded repertory consists of traditional English choral music, but for Somm, the choir issued a recording of a new work, the Requiem, Op. 48, of Ian Venables, in 2020. ~ James Manheim