Choristers at Chetham’s

Chetham’s educates the Choristers of Manchester Cathedral. Boys and girls join the friendly group of choristers between the ages of 8-10, and usually continue singing with the choir until around the age of 13. Potential choristers do not need any prior experience to audition; we’re looking for children who enjoy singing and being part of a close-knit team and who, with their parents, will commit to a demanding but immensely rewarding schedule.

Life as a Chorister at Manchester Cathedral and Chetham’s is a great opportunity, highly rewarding and lots of fun. It helps children to develop important social skills as part of a totally committed team, working closely with peers and adults in pursuit of excellence.

“The Privilege of Choristership: the single greatest leg-up a child can be given in life” “The most obvious benefit is the total submersion in music” “…a complete musical education by process of osmosis” “…all the skills and sensitivities become second nature and all of them have strange and unexpected use and resonance in later life” Alexander Armstrong

All choristers are day or boarding pupils at Chetham’s School of Music and as such receive an excellent musical and academic education in addition to first-class musical training from the Cathedral’s staff. Choristers attend rehearsals in the Cathedral and sing for the weekly services and special events. Concerts, special services and broadcasts on both radio and television form a regular part of a Chorister’s experience. The children also perform alongside other Chetham’s students in productions which have included Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, and musical productions at The Bridgewater Hall marking the WWI centenary and the anniversary of the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout. These opportunities give choristers exciting opportunities to work with children from other schools, to use their voices in different ways and to develop performance skills, confidence and experience in new contexts.

At Chetham’s we are very aware that our Choristers have quite a busy schedule and we work hard to make their lives as easy as possible. In so far as is possible Choristers fit in with the regular School day. They attend lessons and most practice sessions with the other Juniors, timetables around rehearsals at the Cathedral. They have timetabled music lessons, and if they do not already play an instrument when they come to Chetham’s they will start learning the piano. Homework sessions are also built into the Choristers’ school day, helping to ensure that they can enjoy time at home following Evensong on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Chorister auditions and funding are led by Manchester Cathedral. Interested families are invited to meet the Cathedral music team at regular Be A Chorister For A Day events visiting the School and Cathedral, or through Manchester Children’s Choir, which holds free, non-auditioned sessions every Saturday morning at the Cathedral.

For more information on Choristerships, contact the Master of Choristers, Christopher Stokes, at Manchester Cathedral.

Chetham’s is a member of the Choir Schools’ Association.

Next steps for Choristers

The unique musical environment in which choristers are based, and the opportunity to study an instrument with Chetham’s staff, gives them a strong foundation from which to continue as musicians when they reach Year 8.

New arrangements from 2017 mean that choristers may, aged 13, re-audition for the Cathedral choir. Both girls, and boys whose voices are ready to sing lower parts, may then be retained by the Cathedral as young ‘Choral scholars’ alongside the professional Lay Clerks. Choristers aged 13+ will continue to enjoy a bespoke timetable integrating their rehearsals at the Cathedral with a musical and academic education, including a second instrumental study at the School, and will contribute to the School’s Chamber Choirs and other vocal ensembles.

Choristers who are successful at re-audition will enjoy the same fee arrangements as younger choristers, up to Year 11.

Choristers may alternatively audition as First-Study instrumentalists when they reach Year 8, and join the School full time. At Sixth Form, choristers may apply to a place at Chetham’s as singers, instrumentalists or a suitable combination, through the usual Year 11 assessment process, and will then usually be eligible for funding through the MDS scheme.