Winchester Cathedral Choir
Winchester Cathedral has a long tradition of training choristers. Originally the boys were part of the great Benedictine Priory of Winchester associated with the pilgrim Shrine of St. Swithun. Since the Reformation they have been an integral part of the services at this thriving diocesan Cathedral. Today 22 Choristers, wearing the distinctive Cathedral red jumpers, carry on the tradition and, under the leadership of Andrew Lumsden, are internationally regarded as one of the great choirs of England.
The Choristers lead a challenging but rewarding life with a full schedule, and it is important that the boys are sound academically. Quite apart from the regular Cathedral services,they are involved in radio and television broadcasts, CD recordings, concerts and tours throughout England and around the world. Each morning, the boys will prepare the music for evensong and every day they will also have instrumental practice, usually on two instruments. Most Choristers gain valuable music scholarships to senior schools. Sport is equally a way of life at Pilgrims' and Choristers frequently race back from the playing fields to sing in the Cathedral.
At the end of each term, Choristers remain happily in a sort of choir camp. This is a time very much looked forward to by the boys, when they enjoy a special, exclusive relationship with the boarding staff. This is especially so at Christmas, when singing in the Cathedral is balanced with a multitude of fun activities: perhaps ice-skating, a "Turkey Feast", film nights, panto, even Christmas shopping! The Cathedral carol services are attended by thousands. On Christmas Day morning the boys wake the Headmaster with energetic carol singing before tearing open their stockings. Families converge to share a lively festive lunch at the School, before returning home for the long holiday. The boys also sing Holy Week and Easter, and are involved in the annual Southern Cathedrals Festival (with Chichester and Salisbury Cathedral Choirs) after the end of the summer term. To be a Cathedral Chorister is the most wonderful and fulfilling experience, and one that a boy will remember fondly for the rest of his life.
The Singing Auditions
(which include an academic assessment for entry to The PIlgrims' School)
The annual singing auditions normally take place on a Saturday morning in November but may carry on into the afternoon. We are looking for potential and enthusiasm rather than experience and a 'finished product'. The boys have an enjoyable time in a very supportive environment, and we are always glad to answer questions about the assessments involved. These include:
- A short solo - something that the candidate knows well and feels happy to sing. It needn't be anything complicated; part of a familiar hymn will be fine.
- Scales, broken chords and other exercises to show the range and quality of the voice - no previous knowledge is necessary, these are all picked up easily on the day
- Singing back notes played at random on the piano
- Singing the notes in two-part and simple three-part chords
- Singing back a short melody played twice
- Clapping the rhythm of a short phrase played twice
- Candidates are sometimes asked to read aloud
The candidates are normally notified of the outcome of the singing auditions later the same day by telephone, and a summary written statement of the assessment notes is forwarded by post within the week. If you would like more information, please contact Admissions. We are always happy to arrange for your son to be heard informally, and you are welcome to visit the school to learn more about the Choristers. You could also visit the Cathedral website, www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk
Choral Scholarship Conditions
Generous Choral Scholarships are awarded each year after the singing auditions, which are normally held in November when candidates are at least 7 and under 9 years of age. Choral Scholarships and bursaries are available, worth up to 100% of the full boarding fee (per annum) of The Pilgrims' School. The Foundation also pays for the tuition of one of the musical instruments learned. Financial circumstances should be no obstacle to a Choristership: means tested bursaries and Clergy bursaries may be available through the school or through various charitable societies. Details of these are available from the school. It is expected that successful candidates will normally stay at the school until the end of the summer term after their 13th birthday, subject to a good standard of conduct, singing and academic progress. All Choral Foundationers become full boarders at The Pilgrims' School. The first year is regarded as probationary.
Over the rainbow
Listen to the Choristers singing this beautiful version of the classic song
|Old Choristers' Association