Royal Visit

The Countess of Wessex Celebrates 25 Years of Girl Choristers

On Tuesday, the Countess of Wessex GCVO visited Wells Cathedral and Wells Cathedral School, in her capacity as Patron of the Wells Cathedral Chorister Trust, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the foundation of the Girl Cathedral Choristers.

T
he Countess of Wessex met the boy and girl choristers, attended a short musical performance by musicians from Wells Cathedral School, listened to a Chorister rehearsal in the Cathedral and took part in the cutting of a celebratory anniversary cake.

She was later joined by her husband, HRH The Earl of Wessex, in the Cathedral at a service of Choral Evensong sung by the Cathedral Choir. The service was also attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, the current High Sheriff, and a large number of other civic guests who all came to hear the Cathedral Choir. Regular worshippers and all Cathedral volunteers were also invited to attend the service.

For centuries, choral music has been at the heart of the worship of our Cathedrals. Anyone can walk freely into a Wells Cathedral service any day of the week and be instantly transported away from the stresses of the outside world by the sheer quality of the music. The addition of the girls to the choral offering over the last 25 years at Wells has helped make the whole choir one of the best in the country.

Boys first sang in Wells Cathedral in the year 909, and Wells Cathedral School was established the same year. In 1994 girls joined the choral foundation for the first time. Today the choir consists of 18 boys and 18 girls, alongside 9 professional male singers, the ‘Vicars Choral’, along with 3 Choral Scholars who are all trained by the country’s leading music schools and have been selected by competitive audition.

In common with other Cathedral Choirs, young Choristers at Wells engage in a rigorous programme of more than 20 hours a week of rehearsing and performing, often seven days a week in term-time, with sessions before and after most school days. Boys and girls usually sing separately alongside the Vicars Choral for each of the Cathedral’s nine weekly sung services, but all join together for larger services, events, and tours, several times a year. Both girls and boys generally leave the choir at the end of Year 9 with many of them remaining at Wells Cathedral School to complete their education.

Numerous academic research projects have shown the value of musical education in improving overall intellectual performance. At Wells, all the Choristers are educated at Wells Cathedral School, a co-educational boarding and day school offering an all-round education for children from the ages of 2-18. The School offers a broad range of both academic and co-curricular opportunities, and also uniquely includes an  internationally renowned specialist music school, which is in part supported by government funding to provide world-class musical training for the emerging elite of the profession.

Most choristers continue to sing and perform with the School’s other choirs and ensembles after they have left the Cathedral Choir. Many show ability with other musical instruments and the School’s structure also allows them to train at the highest level after they have left the choir.

Wells Cathedral Chorister Trust exists to help young singers from any background to contribute to a cathedral tradition that has endured for more than a thousand years; to train in a world-class musical environment, and to enjoy a unique all-round education at Wells Cathedral School.
The Trust is creating an endowment fund to provide bursaries for talented children so none is barred from this opportunity for financial reasons. We want to give the opportunity for choral training and an excellent education to more people from a wider range of backgrounds throughout the UK.

You can find out more or make a donation by visiting www.wcct.co.uk

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