Singing in the choir
The Pattern of Services
The Choir sings Evensong during the University Terms (each term is approximately eight weeks long) and for three further weeks during the summer.
In addition to Evensong, the Choir sings at Eucharist on Sunday mornings.
The Choristers do not sing Evensong on Mondays and Wednesdays unless there is, for example, a Saint’s Day: in which case, they have one of the other services free in lieu of this. On Monday, the service is 'said' and on Wednesday, the Gentlemen of the Choir sing a 'men's voices' service.
All service commitments fall within the school’s terms and the Choir is not required to sing during Holy Week or at Christmas. Although services continue within the College during the school’s Half Term holidays, the Choristers are free for Half Term from Sunday to Friday. Although other holiday periods are sometimes used for concerts or for international tours, the children are able to enjoy more holiday time, overall, than they would have if they were attending a state school.
The Pattern of Rehearsals
The Choristers have a ‘dumb day’ on Mondays, free from rehearsals and services. On other weekdays and on Saturday mornings, they rehearse with the Director of Music, in school, for an hour each morning.
After the end of school on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the Choristers go over to the College for rehearsals in the Song School and the Chapel prior to Evensong, which takes place at 6.30p.m.
On Saturdays and Sundays, the Choristers likewise go to College to rehearse prior to Evensong and on Sunday mornings, they also rehearse in College prior to the 10.30 a.m. Eucharist service.
The pattern of rehearsals provides for a generous amount of rehearsal time for each service and invariably accommodates rehearsal time for other events, e.g. concerts, without additional rehearsals being required.
The pattern of engagements for the Choir is determined by the College’s Choir Advisory Committee of which the Headmaster is an ex officio member. The Headmaster represents the children’s interests at these meetings at which chorister welfare is a standard agenda item.
Every effort is made in the planning of future engagements to ensure that they do not adversely affect the children’s schooling: tours very rarely impinge on the school term; concerts are rarely given on weekdays; recordings occur, in the main, on those weekends when the Choir is not required for Services in the College or in the school holidays.
The Choir normally records two CDs per year, performs a number of concerts, often at prestigious venues, and undertakes international tours. The tours (and, sometimes, individual concerts) take place during the children’s holidays, in the period before Christmas and during the Easter and Summer holidays. It is unlikely that all three holidays would be affected.