Boys experience being a Quirister for a day
The 'Be a Quirister' event, hosted by Winchester College before Half-Term, provided an exclusive chance for young boys to step into the shoes of a Quirister for a day.
On a recent bright crisp autumn morning, seventeen excited boys from Years 2, 3 and 4 dragged their parents to church a little earlier, perhaps than normal. The occasion was ‘Be a Quirister For a Day’ and the setting was the Chapel in Winchester College. There the current Qs, assisted by the College’s Director of Music, Sarah Baldock, and the Assistant Director of Chapel Music, Ben Cunningham, were waiting to help the boys through a morning of singing and exploring the daily life of a professional singer.
The parents were shown no mercy by Ms Baldock, who included them in the warming up vocal exercises and in the practising of the first piece, a simple nursery rhyme. Once the 30-odd choir and 40-odd parents and siblings had mastered this, Ms Baldock, like a stage magician revealing the trick, demonstrated that we had in fact learned the tune for a polyphonic choral work. By 10am, the seventeen boys were singing in four-part harmony along with the Qs, and the parents were suitably amazed.
The parents left the Chapel to go on a tour of the boarding houses at Q School and Main School, while the boys rehearsed, played with the dressing-up box of red cassocks and invoked the power of the full-sized Chapel organ. After refreshments, they all gathered again in the Chapel to hear the boys perform a short concert, in which several of the visitors sang solo parts. An intense and unusual morning came to fruition and demonstrated that, properly led, anyone can sing and that 6 and 7-year-olds can indeed concentrate for hours on a serious endeavour while having fun in a group of mixed ages.
If your boy shows a passion for singing, the next opportunity is with the Cathedral Choristers, on Saturday 11 November. Contact Pilgrims' Registar, Emma Short if you're interested.
This was a joyful morning and provided a practical opportunity for the boys to explore music, choral performance, and the vibrant community within the College and The Pilgrims' School. We look forward to the next step of formal auditions in the coming months.
Sarah Baldock, Director of Music at Winchester College