King’s College Choir comprises 16 boy choristers, aged between nine and 13 years, and 14 male undergraduates, reading for degrees in a variety of subjects. There are also two organ scholars.
Singing at daily Chapel services is the Choir's primary duty, and has been since the foundation of King’s College in 1441, when King Henry VI envisaged that the Choir would provide music for the daily offices and celebrations of the Mass in his new Chapel.
Daily services are not the Choir’s sole commitment today though: its worldwide fame and reputation, enhanced by its many recordings, has led to invitations to perform around the globe, and to an extensive international tour schedule.
The Choir and College
King’s College Choir’s primary purpose is to sing the daily choral services in Chapel during term-time. This the Choir does on six days a week. The services on Mondays are sung by the College’s mixed voice choir, King’s Voices.
The boy choristers are educated just across the river at King’s College School. They have exactly the same education as the other 350 or so boys and girls at the School; their choral commitments come before and after school hours.
The men of the choir – the choral scholars – play a major role in the musical life of the College and University, not only through their daily singing in the Chapel, but through their involvement as singers and directors in concerts and shows in a wide variety of musical styles.
In addition to their singing of the daily services, the Choir participates in a number of King’s high-profile events in the Chapel. These include the live radio broadcast of the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is heard by tens of millions of people around the world, television broadcasts of Carols from King’s and Easter from King’s and radio broadcasts from the festival, Easter at King’s.
Concerts in the UK
A live recording of Handel's Messiah with the Academy of Ancient Music
The Choir performs extensively in the United Kingdom, appearing regularly at all the major halls in London and in the regions, including Manchester (Bridgewater Hall), Birmingham (Symphony Hall) and Cardiff (St David’s Hall).
It has appeared at the BBC Proms on a number of occasions, performs regularly with the Academy of Ancient Music and the Britten Sinfonia, and gives an annual Christmas concert at the Royal Albert Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Recent festival appearances have seen the Choir at The Sage, Gateshead, the City of London Festival, Chester Music Festival, Windsor Festival, Kings Place (Mozart and Bach festivals), St Albans International Organ Festival, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, and Aldeburgh Music.
The Choir Overseas
Rehearsing in Beijing, 2011
King’s College Choir has been performing abroad since its first overseas invitation in 1936. More recently, tours have taken the Choir to China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and other countries in the Far East.
The Choir regularly visits the USA (next visit Easter 2015) and East Asia (next visit 2016) and has been to Australia, Canada, South Africa, Bermuda, Brazil, and across Europe. For forthcoming tours see Choir concerts and tours, or King’s College Choir on Facebook.
Joining the Choir
Stephen Cleobury, the Director of Music, is very keen to hear from potential members of the Choir, choristers and choral scholars, and theose interested in becoming organ scholar. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 01223 331224 and is always ready to offer an informal meeting prior to auditions and academic interviews. See also Choristerships, Choral Scholarships and Organ Scholarships.
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is represented by Intermusica. Please contact Kate Caro at for further information.
Friends of the Choir
The generosity of those who support the College and Choir financially is essential to its upkeep. The Friends programme was established to recognise and encourage financial support from individuals, families, foundations and organisations.
The College recognises all gifts from Friends by conferring annual membership of the Friends of King's programme, and offers a range of benefits based on the level of donation.
You can become a Friend by completing the attached form.
We look forward to hearing from you. Should you wish to speak to us directly, please contact the Development Office.
- Chapel services
- A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
- Choir concerts and tours
- Choral Scholarships
- Organ Scholarships