Director of Music Fund


To commemorate legacy of Sir Stephen Cleobury, who served as an exceptional Director of Music for more than 37 years, King’s wishes to create a new endowment to support the position of Director of Music at King’s in perpetuity.

Since the appointment of AH Mann in 1876, there have been only six permanent organists or Directors of Music to lead the Choir and the musical life of the College, with each leaving their own mark on the style, repertoire and public perception of the Choir. The post is currently held by Daniel Hyde (KC 2000).

Sir Stephen Cleobury was Director of Music from 1982 to his retirement in 2019. During his long tenure he greatly enhanced the reputation of the Choir and extended its reach by developing its activities in broadcasting, recording and touring. He founded the tradition of the annual commissioned carol for Christmas Eve which, since 1984, has made an invaluable contribution to contemporary choral writing; and introduced the highly successful annual Easter at King’s festival, from which the BBC regularly broadcasts.

The Director of Music is steward and guardian of the unique and world-class musical heritage that King’s College Choir has achieved over the centuries. The post is integral to the success of music at King’s; but currently it is funded from the general budget of the College. £2.5 million is now needed to ensure that the remarkable work of Sir Stephen Cleobury, and all those who have shaped all that King’s College Choir represents to so many, lives on.


History of the Position

When first established, the Choir had lay clerks as professional singers, and sixteen local boys as choristers, whose training was overseen by a clerk or chaplain, and whose welfare fell to the Bursar. The transformation to the present form of the Choir was overseen by Mann, during whose time Choral Scholars began to replace the lay clerks, and the Choir School was established to draw in boy singers from a wider pool.

Mann negotiated the first radio broadcast of the Choir in 1926, and the first recording followed in 1927. With the growth in popularity and number of Chapel services, there was also an increased  sense that the musical training of the undergraduate Choral Scholars and boy choristers needed a more structured approach, and Boris Ord, already a Fellow, was appointed as the first Director of Music in 1929. Mann, while holding the position of organist for fifty-three years, was only a Fellow for the last eight years of his life, and for most of his tenure relied much on the support of the Dean and other Fellows.


The Director of Music Today

The Director of Music today is by default a Fellow of the College, a professional musician and performer, an able administrator - and yet able to coach and motivate young boys and men to sing complex works, both ancient and modern, to the best of their ability. It is a highly visible role within the College, and within the choral and classical music world, with a dizzying schedule of Chapel services, recordings, concerts and tours. The success of the Choir is also instrumental in allowing the College to draw in friends and supporters from around the world.

We have set ourselves a target of £2.5million to establish the endowment for the Director of Music, and we expect to gather support from around the world towards this goal. If you would like to learn more about how you can donate to this project please contact the Development Office.

Your support helps to fund the education of our choristers, as well as supporting the Choir's concerts, tours and recordings.
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