Sunday, 4 February 2007

Chorister for a Day

Yesterday, sixty young boys and their families were welcomed to the Cathedral, and the Choir school, to experience life for a day as a chorister. Following the success of last year's 'Chorister for a Day' initiative, we were gratified to find even more interest this year; the Master of Music, Martin Baker (below), was delighted with the results!

At a time when all English Cathedral and College choir schools are finding recruitment hard, this event is proving a successful way of raising the profile of the school, and informing parents about the advantages of a choral education for their children. There is, perhaps, something of an impression that choristers are elite, that their education is expensive, and that the demands made on them are onerous. Many parents I have spoken to in parishes around the diocese simply would not consider a choir school education for their children - it belongs to a different world, and seems beyond their reach.

'Chorister for a Day' demonstrates to parents that none of these misgivings is true. Our choristers come from the widest possible social backgrounds, and bursaries and scholarships mean that their education is almost free. They work hard, but they also have enormous fun, and wonderful opportunities - touring, performing in concerts, meeting extraordinary and distinguished people. The image of a Victorian boarding school is very out of date; the model of the Choir school is a family, and the boys are cared for and educated in a loving, nurtuting atmosphere.

The many families that came yesterday had a wonderful day. Parents were given talks and tours of the Cathedral, while the children were given some singing classes, and joined our own choristers to sing the 6.00pm Mass in the Cathedral (above). Cassocks had been provided for all of them, and as the lengthy procession of tiny would-be-choristers wound through the Cathedral, many of them all but lost in over-large cassocks, there was scarecely a dry eye in the whole congregation. The picture below comes from last year's event, but shows that they had a great time and, please God, many of their familes will wish to apply to the Cathedral Choir School, to become part of our great tradition.


John the organist said...

The 6 pm Mass was very special and it was great to see everyone so happy. The boys were on great form both at Vespers (well-drilled choreography) and at Mass when they sang "Let all the world" by Vaughan Williams and "Ave verum" by Elgar. I thought the hymn "Lord of all hopefulness" and the Widor Toccata were inspired choices!

Anonymous said...

As a parent of one of the choristers for the day, i would like to thank everyone responsible for this wonderful event (school, cathedral and music staff) it was informative and inspiring!
Congratulations to Martin Baker, John the organist (I agree wholeheartedly with the inspired choices and applaud the improvisation following the "let all the world"- magnificent!) and all the choristers on their oustanding music. You lift up our spirits in every sense. Thank you Fr. Langham for a beautiful service, thoughtful homily (quoted to me by my 8 year old son in the car on the way to school this morning!)and warm welcome.
My son had a marvellous time, as did I; it was a truly memorable experience. Thank you to everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

[Fr Mark: no need to publish this overly pernickety comment]

We're thrilled that the boys had as much fun as they did last year; indeed they bear an uncanny resemblance to last year's participants.

The 2006 photo is still available on the RCDOW website, and we don't suppose it would help recruitment if the incredibly grateful parent who's reading your blog thought their little darling had been airbrushed already! ;-)