What advantages are there being a Cathedral Chorister?
The choristers of Liverpool Cathedral enjoy a special start in life and schooldays which are full and varied. By joining the choir, they become part of a choral tradition which in its sheer excellence and beauty, is unsurpassed. At Liverpool Cathedral, because the boys and girls are encouraged to offer nothing less than the very best in all things, their musical gifts are cultivated and their sense of responsibility and confidence matured. When they eventually leave the choir, they take with them a rich experience which benefits them forever.
Is previous experience necessary?
No. What a child needs is a good ear and a voice with potential. The best age to join the choir is at six years, the younger the better, but we do take on older boys and girls who show talent.
What musical education to they receive?
An excellent musical training, not only in practical skills such as voice production and sight reading, but also in the theory of music. Because they are always singing, their confidence and musicianship rapidly develops and their repertoire grows constantly. In addition, in the fullness of time, they would have the opportunity of free tuition on a musical instrument of their choice.
Do choir duties interfere with their schooling?
The choristers attend schools all over the city and are free to attend any secondary school of their choice. On rehearsal days, snacks are provided and there is time for recreation, rehearsal and evensong. The 6:00pm finish still leaves time for homework and leisure time. As the Cathedral works closely with all the schools, there is minimum interference with studies, consequently many choristers have gone on to achieve distinguished careers in their professions.
Is it all work?
By no means. The choir provides an opportunity for boys and girls to make friends, with whom they enjoy a full and happy social life, including an annual choir tour, which in the past has taken them to France, Spain, the Czech Republic and Japan. The annual Christmas Panto visit and Blackpool Trip in the autumn are always enjoyable occasions. When the choristers are not in rehearsal or singing services, they are free to use the various indoor and outdoor recreational facilities at the East End of the Cathedral.
What happens when their voices break?
When a boy's voice breaks, and when a girl reaches the age of 16, they leave the choir, but can continue participating in the ceremonial aspects of the Cathedral services through the Cathedral ex-choristers Guild, known as the Cross Guild. They are also encouraged to join The Overcrofters – the Cathedral Youth Group, to enable them to continue their association with the Cathedral and other young people.
How do I apply?
Complete the application form and send it to the Music Office. These are available from the Cathedral welcome desk, the Music Office (NOT open Wednesdays each week) or you can print it from this website (link to the right). Details will be sent to you by return.
Outlined below is the normal progression a chorister will take through the Cathedral Choir.
On successful completion of the audition, boys and girls are admitted into the Cathedral Choir as probationer choristers. This is where they are taught how to sing and breathe properly, voice projection and music theory at Grade one level. They gain skills which they will require later on in the choir such as being part of a team, walking in procession, and an introduction to the repertoire as they sing a complete service with the Junior Choir once a term. The boy probationers attend rehearsals on Saturdays and Sundays; and process in the afternoon service on Sundays, which enables them to listen to the Cathedral Choir and see how things are done. The girl probationers attend rehearsals on Thursdays and Sundays, and process in the serivce on Thursdays.
The Choir Probationers
On completion of the probationary period, the next step is the Choir Probationers. At this stage the boys and girls begin to learn the repertoire, being present at every rehearsal. They gain valuable experience of regularly singing in the Cathedral, and when a vacancy appears in the choir, one of the Choir Probationers takes the place.
Alongside the Lay Clerks, the Choristers (boys' voices, or girls' voices) maintain 7 sung services in a week during term time. Having learnt much of the repertoire as a choir prob, the transition into the choir is mostly seamless.
The Cross Guild
After leaving the Cathedral Choir, choristers are welcome to join the Cross Guild. In this role, the boys and girls are able to keep in touch with friends from the choir and the Cathedral itself. The Cross Guild provides all the ceremonial aspects of the Sunday morning Eucharist and other special services. This adds a major visual aspect to any Cathedral service, and is a big and unique part of the life of this Cathedral.
The Lay Clerks
The Lay Clerks of Liverpool Cathedral consist of 12 men: 4 counter tenors, 4 tenors and 4 basses. They attend the Cathedral on Sundays, Saturday afternoons and on three weekday evenings. They are supported by a number of deputies. If you are interested in becoming a Lay Clerk or a Deputy then please contact the Music Office (NOT open on Wednesdays each week) for further information.