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. They have been an integral part of the services at this thriving diocesan Cathedral since the Reformation.
The Winchester Cathedral Choir is internationally regarded as one of the finest choirs of England.
We can highly recommend the Winchester Cathedral chorister journey. Our son has thrived throughout and this truly unique musical experience has been wonderful. We are grateful for all the support he has received.
What does being a Chorister involve?
Today, 22 Choristers carry on the tradition, singing with the Cathedral Choir under the leadership of Andrew Lumsden, the Cathedral Organist and Director of Music. The boys sing with the Lay Clerks, adult professional singers who take the alto, tenor and bass parts. The Cathedral also has an outstanding girls' choir, with whom the boys join forces on occasion.
High profile opportunities
As well as singing the Cathedral liturgy each week, the Winchester Cathedral Choir may be involved in high profile services in the Cathedral and elsewhere, in radio and television broadcasts, CD recordings, concerts and tours throughout England and around the world.
The Choir had the great privilege of being invited by the Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir to sing with them in the Vatican. Singing to thousands in St Peter's Square and meeting the Pope is a lifetime memory for the boys and their accompanying families. They also performed at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and featured in the Cathedral Carol Concert with Hugh Dennis in 2019.
Hear from former Chorister, Jon Snow, about his experience:
What is Choir time?
Choir Time is unique to Cathedral choristers. Across the country, boys and girls return to their schools at the end of each term to prepare the challenging repertoire for Christmas and Holy Week, and for summer choir festivals. In Winchester, the choir joins with the choirs of Salisbury and Chichester Cathedrals for the Southern Cathedrals Festival in July.
What do Choristers do for fun?
At Pilgrims’, Choir Time is something the Choristers look forward to with great excitement. The boarding team pull out the stops to make it a special time, full of happy moments that the boys will remember long in to the years ahead. In a sort of ‘choir camp’, the boys can roam around the whole school and enjoy a specially created programme of free time, music practice, activities, trips out and huge concerts and services. Go-karting, paddle boarding, movie nights, virtual reality games, model making, quizzes, treasure trails – each Choir Time has a different, seasonal character.
What is free time like for a Chorister at Christmas?
Christmas, perhaps the most public time for the Choristers, is probably the most atmospheric and exciting Choir Time for the boys, especially if it snows. The thrill of singing to thousands of people packed into the Cathedral for the carol services is tumbled in among snowball fights and sledging, press calls and TV or radio broadcasts, playing generations-old Chorister games at the Turkey Feast, a trip to the pantomime, and, of course, Christmas shopping. It is our Chorister's tradition to put on a cabaret on Christmas Eve and to be woken up by an enormous, very loud firework on Christmas Day. The Choristers then tear open their stockings and exchange gifts, eat a huge cooked breakfast, and race off to sing Matins. Extended families cram into the school’s dining room to share a lively festive lunch before finally returning home for the long holiday and a well-earned rest.
Not surprisingly, the boys say that Choir Time is the part of being a Winchester Cathedral Chorister that they - and their families - miss the most when they leave.
Read this article about what our Choristers get up to at Choir Time.
Visit Winchester Cathedral's website
Details of the Cathedral Choir and the Choristers (boys and girls), including service times and when it is possible to hear the choir sing, can be found on the Cathedral's website.
What have the Choristers been up to?
We regularly post stories about the Choristers on our social channels, so please follow us. You can also visit our Latest News.
Old Choristers' Association
Edward Bagnall, Chairman of the Winchester Old Choristers' Association, arranges two reunions each year, one at the end of the summer term and another to coincide with the first of the Cathedral carol services. These occasions provide a great opportunity for Old Choristers to keep in touch with their friends in the choir, at the Cathedral and at the school. If you would like to be added to their mailing list, please contact Russell Brandon, the Membership Secretary or sign in to the Winchester Cathedral Old Choristers on Facebook.
Please note, this is a closed group for Old Choristers only. If your son was a Chorister and you would like to get in touch for news of the choir, please contact Emma Short at The Pilgrims' School, who will be happy to help.