There are usually 16 Choristers. The older Choristers look after the younger and stand in the Choir stalls with a younger one on either side. As they gain more experience the Choristers are given more choral responsibility. They are expected to 'lead' and may be given solos or parts in 'verse' anthems, which split into duets, quartets and trios.
Generations of Choristers have derived enormous rewards from the Choir and from the level of musicianship that they achieve. Singing Evensong during University Term creates, for Choristers, a space in their lives when they achieve something very special and during which they forge friendships that last a lifetime. Almost without exception, Choristers gain Music (and sometimes Academic) scholarships to their chosen senior schools. Others come back to Cambridge as Choral Students and many go on to make successful professional music careers. The children develop an enviable standard of professional musicianship but also considerable powers of concentration, personal organisation and self-motivation: qualities which, in turn, lead to success in many areas of life at School and beyond.
The Director of Music is responsible for all matters relating to the children’s progress within the Choir. He conducts the choir in services, concerts and recordings and, unless absent, takes all rehearsals of the Choir.
Two undergraduate Organ Scholars, one Senior and one Junior, assist the College Director of Music. They are elected to Organ Scholarships on the basis of annual Voice Trials. Between them, they play the organ for all the services, broadcasts and recordings. They also conduct and rehearse the Choir in the absence of the Director of Music. Both of the Organ Scholars attend morning practice at School to work with the Probationers.
Mr David Lowe gives singing lessons (which are funded by the College) to each Chorister and works very closely with the Director of Music to monitor each boy’s vocal development.
The Choral Scholars, known as the ‘Gents’, sing Alto, Tenor and Bass in the Choir. They are mainly undergraduates of St John’s but may be elected as Lay Clerks from other Colleges. The Choral Scholars are highly supportive of the children’s work in the Choir but are not given responsibility for their care.
As part of their life in the Choir, the children will encounter other adults within the Chapel who have no direct responsibility for their welfare but with whom they work closely. The Dean, the Reverend Duncan Dormor, in addition to leading worship within the Chapel, is the Chairman of Governors of the school and The President of St John’s. He often travels with the Choir on tour, as does the Chaplain. When on tour, the Chapel officers have responsibility for the ‘Gents’, the children being in the care of two members of the school’s staff. The Chapel Clerk is responsible for the organisation of services and the management of visitors and congregations within the Chapel and he is happy to answer any questions about seating or ticket arrangements for any services or other events in Chapel.