About the Choirs
There are opportunities for singers at Great St Mary’s from around the age of six onward. The youngest singers (ages 6-8) form the Junior Choir, which is conducted by professional soprano and singing teacher Helen Groves. They meet several times a month, and perform occasionally at services in Great St Mary’s or Michaelhouse. They also have a lively social calendar!
The main choirs comprise a ‘back row’ of altos, tenors and basses, and three independent soprano lines, of boys, girls; and a smaller girls’ chamber choir of the most experienced girl choristers. The sub-groups are often heard on their own, and join forces in a number of different combinations, offering a very diverse breadth of repertoire and experiences.
The Girls’ Choir was founded in 1989, making it one of the oldest Church or Cathedral Girls’ Choirs in the United Kingdom. The traditional adults-and-boys choir has existed since at least the mid-nineteenth century, when the church interior was reconfigured to its current layout.
Places in the younger sections of the choir are open to singers from around the age of eight. Places in the back row are open to keen singers of any age, who share our passion for choral music and have strong sight-reading skills. We also have a special rehearsal each week for boys whose voices are changing, to help them get used to their ‘new’ voice. This system has helped retain former trebles from Great St Mary’s, and has also attracted former trebles from other choirs around the city who enjoy singing and want to carry on.
Throughout their time in the Choir, singers learn about music, and receive singing coaching as a group from the Director of Music, and individually from Helen Groves. They are also encouraged to explore and grow in the Christian faith, and the Church runs regular courses for those interested in baptism, admission to communion and confirmation. The choirs’ work ties in well with Examinations in Music Theory and instruments, also with GCSE and A-level music syllabuses. Singing is an excellent complement to music-making elsewhere and the most successful choristers are often active instrumental players and performers outside the choir stalls. Singing with the Choir is the ideal preparation to apply for Choral Scholarships at University, and several former choristers have held scholarships at prestigious choral foundations across the country. Click here to see information on Choral Scholarships at Cambridge University.
Each of the sections of the ‘main’ choirs may be required to sing at any of the three choral services on Sundays – Parish Communion, Choral Mattins and Choral Evensong, plus other services for festivals and special occasions. A schedule outlining the commitments for each section of the choir is produced at the start of each term.
Our comprehensive booklet will give you all the details you need to make contact and plan your entry into one of our choirs. Please contact the Director of Music for a copy.
Rehearsals normally take place every week during school term, with a break during half term. In addition, members of choir are also required at Easter, Christmas, and the immediate run-up to these major festivals. A commitment to regular attendance is required from all members of the choirs.
4.15-5.30pm: Boys (trebles)
6.00-7.30pm: Girls’ Chamber Choir
7.30-9pm: Adults (plus older boys – altos, tenors and basses, in a separate rehearsal)
The Occasional Choir
The Occasional Choir is for adults who enjoy singing but cannot manage the regular commitment required by the main choir. They often sing during holidays.