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Becoming a chorister - learning to sing, learning for life

Choristers at Chichester Cathedral receive an outstanding musical training, gaining skills that will stay with them throughout their lives.

Within a close-knit and highly supportive community, they perform to the highest professional standards, developing confidence and ambition as they progress. They become excellent learners. They are educated at the Prebendal School, which traces its history back to the 12th century, and is next door to the Cathedral in the heart of Chichester.

The chorister experience lays the foundations for future success. In recent years, nearly all Chichester choristers have won scholarships to secondary schools, going on to further study and rewarding careers.

Chichester Cathedral Chorister
Rafi



To listen to Rafi, one of our talented choristers, talking about his experience of being a chorister, click here.

 
Chichester Cathedral Choristers
Chichester Cathedral Choristers

The Choir - a busy schedule with exciting challenges
In conjunction with their school timetable, the choristers rehearse and perform with the acclaimed Choir of Chichester Cathedral. They sing seven choral services each week during term time, with Wednesday as a day off. The services have specific names, such as 'Evensong' (sung in the afternoon or evening) and 'Mattins' and 'Eucharist' which are usually sung on Sunday morning. The choir also broadcasts on national radio, undertakes tours around Europe and makes recordings.

Choristerships provide a remarkable basis for life-long success - learning, performing, enjoying
The chorister life gives boys access to a world-class musical education, and equips them with skills that remain with them throughout their lives. They learn the value of concentration and hard work, enjoy a strong sense of comradeship, and experience the thrill of performing as part of a highly professional team.

The choir practices, which are fitted around a normal school day, take place after breakfast or just before lunch. After school, the choristers process to the Cathedral to prepare for Evensong. Here, they are joined by the 'Lay Vicars' (the choir men who sing the lower parts). The service is attended by members of the public, choir parents and members of the school staff. After the service, the boys return to school for supper, music practice, prep and some down time. Regular 'treat night' activities are organised: watching a film with a mug of hot chocolate is a particular favourite!

Special events
Broadcasts, foreign tours and recordings form an important part of the choir's work. We take great care to look after the choristers, and ensure that their workload is manageable. The Headmaster of the school and the Master of the Choristers are in constant touch about pastoral matters.

The choristers form about 10% of the school community, and their musical achievements are recognised and celebrated by teachers and pupils alike.

The chorister training - a progressive path to musical and personal self-confidence
When your son is accepted into the choir, he begins a period of training during which he is known as a 'probationer'. He receives training and voice production and music theory as part of a carefully structured programme which teaches him everything he needs to know about being a chorister. Free piano tuition is also provided. Boys usually start in year 3 or 4, and spend about a year as probationers before being welcomed as choristers in a special ceremony.

The training is on-going, and as a chorister your son will continually learn more and more about professional performance, and will get to know at least 800 pieces of music. He will develop the focus and concentration needed for a recording session or live broadcast to hundreds of thousands of people. Choristers go on to a variety of professional careers: whatever the future holds for your son, these very 'transferable' skills will stay with him throughout his life.
 

Choristers
Chichester Cathedral Choristers

Boarding and finance
The choristers are all boarders at the Prebendal School. Some parents are initially uncertain about boarding, but this requirement is in fact much more fun than many people imagine, and there is a great family atmosphere in the boarding house. Choristers are asked to board for 4 nights each week, and are able to go home for Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Parents who live locally often pop into the boarding house during the evenings after having heard the choir sing. Mums and dads, brothers and sisters, are also welcome to come to lunch on Sundays.

Chichester strives to make this opportunity available to any boy with the potential to flourish as a chorister, regardless of financial circumstances. The cathedral pays 50% of the full fees for every chorister, and for those who need extra assistance, further funds are available too. There is a completely confidential means-tested application process for applying for bursaries. Our wish is to appoint choristers purely on their musical and vocal potential, and to open up this extraordinary opportunity purely on merit.

Don't hesitate to contact us - no need to wait for the formal Open Day to know more about the choir and school life.

The choir's director is Charles Harrison. He is always keen to chat to parents about choristerships, and to arrange a meeting or an informal audition. Please contact him on 01243 812486 or 01243 813582, or organist@chichestercathedral.org.uk.

The next Open Day is on Saturday 4th March 2017, but there is no need to wait until then. Please get in touch at any time.

For more information about Prebendal School and boarding, please visit their website: www.prebendalschool.org.uk
or contact the Head's PA, Lesa Burchell, on 01243 520970 or headpa@prebendalschool.org.uk

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