The Choir of King's College, Cambridge

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About The Choir of King's College, Cambridge

A combination of unique conditions, some rooted deep in history and others in the power of modern media, have helped the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, to survive and flourish. During the late 20th century, it became the aspirational model for all-male Anglican cathedral and collegiate choirs, a beacon of choral excellence that continues to enter the homes of millions thanks to the broadcast of its annual Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols, a captivating discography and frequent international tours. The unmistakable King’s sound rises from the bright yet warm tone of its boy choristers, the excellence of its handpicked adult choral scholars (all King’s undergraduates), and the generous acoustics of King’s College Chapel, the awe-inspiring atmosphere if not the reverberation of which it manages to reproduce even when performing away from home. King’s Choir was born in 1441, when Henry VI established a new centre of learning in one of medieval England’s two university cities. The saintly king decreed that a group of men and boys should sing daily services in the college chapel. The choir weathered early funding cuts, the upheavals of religious reform and civil war, and prolonged periods of decline, before receiving a boost in 1876 with the appointment of Arthur “Daddy” Mann as the college’s director of music. Mann transformed the choir over the next 53 years, introducing King’s to its famous carol service in 1918 and setting solid foundations for the work of his successors, notably Boris Ord, David Willcocks, and Stephen Cleobury. Former King’s College organ scholar Daniel Hyde took charge of the choir in 2019, steering it through COVID lockdowns before spicing its repertory with new works and music from outside the Anglican tradition.

Cambridge, England
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