The Weekly Workings of St Paul’s Cathedral Choir

We’re now back into the full swing of term, so would like to offer an insight into the weekly workings of St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and its musicians. There are lots of tasks which go on every day, behind the scenes, to ensure that the choir is able to lead worship and represent the ethos of the Cathedral to the best of its ability.

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Choristers

The demands made on a chorister’s time in any Cathedral are heavy. This is certainly true of St Paul’s! But our choristers find excitement, stimulation and fulfilment in the task of singing daily and in preparing for national religious services.

Each day, the boys rehearse from 7.50 to 8.50 before a full day of school. They return to the practice room at 16.10 to prepare for Evensong, when they are joined by our Vicars Choral. After Evensong, choristers complete their prep (aka homework), practice their instruments, and enjoy supper. Boys can expect an early start every day of the week except a Thursday!

Probationers (our newest and youngest singers, who are in training) are eased into this routine and often return home on Friday. They also rehearse separately from the choristers while they are learning how to use their voices and read music. All of our choristers and probationers are privileged to receive tuition from a professional singing teacher. Needless to say, they also enjoy sports and lots of other extracurricular activities too!

Choristers of St Paul's

Vicars Choral

Our gentlemen singers sing in St Paul’s most days and complete the full choir. Outside of the Cathedral they enjoy independent professional careers. Many sing with world-famous consort groups, orchestras and opera companies, lead their own ensembles, make recordings, teach, and give recitals. As a men’s voice choir, they sing Choral Evensong on Thursday (and enjoy a day off on Monday!).

The Cathedral Choir sings Choral Evensong

Music Staff

Our team of musicians have the privilege of overseeing the music at St Paul’s. Aside from leading worship, doing organ practice and training choristers, the desk work involved in running a Cathedral music department is not to be underestimated! Much of the working week is spent on any number of the following: planning and preparing music; coordinating special events including: national services, orchestral masses, celebrity recitals, organ recitals, weddings and baptisms; maintaining the world-famous Cathedral organ and other instruments; planning tours, concerts and recordings; liaising with visiting choirs; managing the Cathedral Consort and Cathedral Chorus; commissioning new pieces of music; liaising with the Cathedral School; recruiting new choristers; booking deputy singers; and developing music outreach. Needless to say, we benefit from the talents of a hugely gifted Administrator, Angela!

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A particular headline for us at the moment is our exciting major tour of the USA, taking place from 14-29th April 2015. We’re working hard to reach out to friends in the USA ahead of our visit. If there’s anything more you’d like to know, why not drop us a question in the comments? Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @StPaulsChoir of on Facebook. You can also support us more directly by donating to music at St Paul’s.

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New Term at St Paul’s

The beginnings of a choir of men and boys at St Paul’s is recorded in 1127, when Bishop Richard de Belmeis founded what was the first choir school at St Paul’s and made provision for ‘almonry’ boys (literally poor children in need of alms) to serve the Cathedral. Since then, the choir has grown, been re-organised several times (including under Sir John Stainer), and now enjoys a world-famous reputation. And this is the choir’s inaugural blog!

We thought we’d kick off our new tradition of offering insights into the workings of a great Cathedral Choir by letting our friends know what awaits us this term. The choristers have now returned following a well-deserved Christmas break; the Vicars Choral (our professional gentlemen singers) are back in the stalls; and we’re ready to launch into some exciting ventures.

This term we have some great headlines. We’re celebrating Christian Unity Week with our Roman Catholic friends at Westminster Cathedral. St Paul’s will be singing evensong at Westminster on 20th January and they will sing Vespers at St Paul’s on the 23rd. We’re also looking forward to broadcasting evensong live on BBC Radio 3 on 4th February (3.30pm) to followers around the world. The service will feature music by Finzi, Holst, Elgar and Messiaen.

We’ve also got our Patronal Festival, a festal Evensong for old choristers, a whole day of music and prayer for Ash Wednesday, the annual United Guilds Service, and the St Matthew Passion on 26th March.

The biggest thing on our horizon is our major tour of the USA. We’re covering the East coast and central America, and are particularly looking forward to making new friends. This tour is the first of a trio – with repeat visits planned for 2018 and 2021. You’ll be hearing a lot about the tour from now until April, when we fly out. For now, why not connect with us on Twitter @StPauls Choir or Facebook?Color Guard 1