How you can help Norwich Cathedral’s tradition of boy choristers continue to flourish

Norwich Cathedral Choir. Photo: Paul Hurst. Norwich Cathedral Choir. Photo: Paul Hurst.

Emma Knights emma.knights@archant.co.uk
Thursday, March 27, 2014
12:26 PM

For 900 years choral music has filled Norwich Cathedral, and to help the tradition of boy choristers continue to flourish an appeal is being made to help fund the education bursaries awarded to the young singers.

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Performance of St Matthew Passion

Norwich Cathedral Choir, Norwich Cathedral Consort and Norwich Baroque are joining together to perform JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday.

Ashley Grote, the cathedral’s master of music who will conduct the performance, said: “Being part of a performance of the St Matthew Passion is an incredibly moving experience for the performer and the listener, both musically and spiritually. It is enormous in its scale and complexity.”

• The concert begins at 6.30pm on Saturday.

Only unsighted tickets costing £8 remain. To book call 01603 628319 or visit the Cathedral Shop or Prelude Records.

The cathedral’s 20 young choristers are boys aged eight to 13, and their voices can be heard at weekday evensongs and Sunday worship as part of the Norwich Cathedral Choir when they follow in the footsteps of the many hundreds of boys who have sung in the historic venue since monastic times and been educated in Cathedral Close.

Music from across the centuries features in their repertoire, and a busy rehearsal schedule each week and special concert performances throughout the year including at Easter and Christmas are also part of the choristers’ duties.

In return for their huge commitment to music the Choir Endowment Fund helps to pay for the boys’ education at Norwich School.

This support helps to keep the opportunity to be a part of the cathedral’s choral tradition open to gifted singers from all backgrounds, and it is for this reason the trust is hoping to offer increased support and is appealing for businesses and individuals to help with funding the choristers’ bursaries.

Norwich Cathedral's choristers at a rehearsal. Photo: Paul Hurst.Norwich Cathedral's choristers at a rehearsal. Photo: Paul Hurst.

The trust currently pays half of each chorister’s school fees, sometimes the whole amount in cases of financial hardship, and also helps with funding some choristers education up to GCSE level after they leave the choir.

“A cathedral education, a mix of the school and cathedral, is a tremendous foundation for almost every career because it builds team work, time management and all sorts of other skills, and to extend this opportunity to children of every background is tremendously worthwhile,” said the Rev Canon Jeremy Haselock, precentor and vice-dean.

“The choral tradition is worth preserving for a wide number of reasons. There’s a huge community benefit to be gained from it and by contributing to the Choir Endowment Fund people are supporting not just the individuals but the future of the whole project.”

He spoke of how the choir was steeped in history and encouraged more people to come and enjoy it.

Norwich Cathedral Choir. Photo: Paul Hurst.Norwich Cathedral Choir. Photo: Paul Hurst.

“Choral music has been at the heart of worship in Norwich Cathedral for 900 years. It raises the spirits, lifts the hearts to God, and brings in new people in every age,” he said.

“The Anglican choral tradition is alive and flourishing in our cathedrals. It is the envy of the whole world and we are proud at Norwich to be working hard to continue that great tradition.

“Choral Evensong at Norwich Cathedral is one of the undiscovered delights of the city, a free concert of spiritual value in unparalleled surroundings everyday!”

• The choir can be heard at evensong every weekday evening at 5.30pm and at Sunday worship.

• Businesses can sponsor a chorister for their time in the choir, and the cathedral is also seeking business sponsorship for its programmes and events. For more information call the director of development Mary Atkins on 01603 218300 or email directorofdevelopment@cathedral.org.uk

• Individuals can support the Choir Endowment Fund online at www.justgiving.com/norwichcathedral, by texting NCTH01 to 70070 followed by the ‘£’ sign and the amount you would like to donate between £1 and £10, by visiting the cathedral’s donations desk, and by sending a cheque payable to the Choir Endowment Fund to The Director of Development, 12 The Close, Norwich.

If you are considering leaving a gift in your will, contact the director of development whose details are above.

• Norwich Cathedral’s boy choristers are selected by competitive audition. The cathedral is happy for boys from the age of six upwards to come and sing to the master of music informally, and a clear voice and quick ear is all that is needed at this first stage. For more about auditions contact the liturgy and music administrator, Kristina Bartlette, at precentor.assistant@cathedral.org.uk or by calling 01603 218306.

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