The Choir and Singing
Outside of school hours the choristers rehearse and perform with the internationally renowned Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. The boys sing at choral services (called either 'Evensong' or 'Eucharist') in the Chapel during the eight-week University terms, with days off on Mondays and Wednesdays. Usually there are six services a week for the choristers, but this has been temporarily reduced during the pandemic. Outside of these regular services, the choristers have the opportunity to perform on radio and television broadcasts, make recordings, and perform in magnificent concert venues around the world.
The chorister experience is probably the best musical education available to boys of this age; it also brings with it the benefits of skills that will last a lifetime. Performing to a highly professional standard, choristers gain a natural self-confidence, as well as the appreciation of good time-keeping and the rewards that result from hard work.
During a regular day, the choristers will each have practice time on a musical instrument before the normal School day begins. At lunch time the choristers will have a choir practice at school, before lessons begin again in the afternoon. Later on, after a break, the choristers will walk over to the Chapel in their 'croc'.
There they will rehearse for the chapel service that evening and are joined by the choral scholars, who are undergraduate members of King’s College and provide the lower voices. After the service the boys return to school for supper, prep, and some down-time at the end of the day.
During a normal year the Choir performs in a number of concerts and broadcasts, and makes its own recordings. There are often exciting opportunities for the Choristers to travel to wonderful places all around the world, as well as to meet and perform with some of the greatest performing musicians of this generation.
These events are scheduled well in advance in order to minimise disruption, and to manage the boys’ workload. The number of concerts is regulated by the King’s College Choirs Committee, which is designed to ensure that the amount of performing and traveling is kept to manageable levels. The School Head is a member of this committee.
While the Choir is not currently traveling, concerts and touring remains an important part of the chorister experience, and these activities will recommence when it is safe for them to do so.
Once your son has been accepted into the Choir, he spends two years as a ‘Probationer’. During this period he will learn, with his year group, all that he will need to know to begin to perform with the full Choir. At the end of his time as a probationer he joins the Choir as a full member, usually in School Year 6.
But the learning doesn't stop there: as a regular member of the Choir your son will learn all the attributes of a professional performer up until his very last day of School. These are skills he will keep for the rest of his life.
The choristers’ main point of contact when performing with the Choir is with the College’s Director of Music, Daniel Hyde. Daniel is a Music Fellow of King’s College and is responsible for the Choir’s activities; he has held the post since 2019 following similar prestigious positions at Jesus College Cambridge, Magdalen College Oxford, and St Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, New York.
Assisting the Director of Music are the organ scholars. They are undergraduate students of King's who, alongside their academic work, have responsibility for most of the organ playing in Chapel and the accompaniment of the Choir. The organ scholars also assist with morning chorister practices, as well as with training of the choristers and probationers.
The choristers perform alongside the choral scholars. These are 14 undergraduate students of King’s who sing the alto, tenor and bass parts in the Choir; like the organ scholars, these duties are addition to their regular academic studies at King’s College and the University of Cambridge. They are appointed on the basis of both their academic and vocal performance.
The School is responsible for safe-guarding all of the students of King’s College School. Everyone who works with children is screened, and the chapel staff and choral scholars receive training on the safe-guarding of children. The choristers, who are in a household bubble, currently sing distanced from the choral scholars and wear masks when in a group outside of the school.