Life as a Chorister
Being a Chorister at Manchester Cathedral is a great opportunity, highly rewarding and lots of fun! Life as a chorister develops important social skills in children. Being an integral part of a totally committed team and working closely with colleagues in pursuit of excellence inevitably stands children in good stead for the future. They also gain self-confidence and a concept of the Cathedral’s musical heritage, of which they are proud to be a part.
Each year Manchester Cathedral looks to offer choristerships to four girls or boys aged between 8 and 10. All choristers are day or boarding pupils at Chetham’s School of Music and as such receive an excellent musical and general education there, in addition to the first-class musical training from the Cathedral’s staff. Choristers attend rehearsals in the Cathedral and sing for the weekly round of services and other special events such as live radio broadcasts, CD recordings and touring within the UK, Europe and beyond.
Potential Choristers do not need any prior experience to audition for the Choir. We are looking for children who enjoy singing, being part of a close-knit team and who, with their parents, will commit to a demanding but immensely rewarding schedule. Occasionally, choristers are involved in additional performances outside their usual Cathedral schedule. Choristers took part in a major production of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde, produced by the Cathedral, Chetham's and The Bridgewater Hall in 2013; in 2015 they led the cast of The Silver Donkey, a musical theatre production for families and schools at The Bridgewater Hall, marking the WW1 centenary. 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 students whilst still going over to the Cathedral at set times for rehearsals. They have timetabled music lessons, as do the other students, 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.
Choristers usually enter Chetham's from Year 4 onwards, and leave at the end of Year 8 (or earlier in the case of boys whose voices break early). Choristers do not have an automatic right of entry into the senior school. We do not normally take singers younger than Sixth Form and if Choristers wish to stay on after Year 8 then they must apply during their final chorister year to audition to stay on as instrumentalists. Auditions for the senior school will not take place earlier than Year 8.
Chetham's is a member of the Choir Schools' Association
Rankings within the choir
Probationer Choristers: new junior entrants into the choir will normally remain "Probs" for a year or more. They will then be tested to become full Choristers.
Choristers: students in the choir remain full Choristers until their final year. They may then become Foundationers or simply remain as 2nd year Choristers.
Foundationers: the Foundationers at Manchester are the senior Choristers and carry responsibilities within the choir.
After services there is a short debriefing on the service just completed and any arrangements for the next day are discussed.
The Cathedral will contribute £4000 per annum per chorister towards the annual chorister fee due to the school. Please note that choristers' places at Chetham's are not funded under the Music and Dance Scheme; however, assistance with fees may be obtained from other sources including the Friends of Cathedral Music. We recommend speaking to the School at the earliest opportunity when considering an application to become a chorister, in order to obtain advice on other sources of funding.
Up to two boarding spaces may be available for choristers at Chetham's, based in Victoria House alongside instrumentalists aged 8-13. Parents of choristers applying from outside Manchester should bear in mind that choristers' commitments at the Cathedral continue during School holidays, particularly at Christmas and Easter, and they may need to arrange alternative travel or accommodation for these weeks.