Foundation News

1 February

Cathedral Choir Schools join forces at Choral Evensong

Last week, as far as we know for the very first time, the Chamber Choirs of the three Cathedral Choir Schools, King’s Worcester, King’s Gloucester and Hereford Cathedral School joined forces to sing Choral Evensong in Worcester Cathedral.

The world-famous Three Choirs Festival has been taking place in the cities of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester for over three hundred years. The music was originally performed by the three Cathedral Choirs before the festival was enlarged to feature Choral Societies and now includes a huge range of music concerts, services, talks and other events. The most recent event was held in Worcester in July 2021 and the School’s facilities such as the John Moore Theatre and Michael Baker Boathouse were used for various events.

In 1729 the Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral, Thomas Bisse, preached the following on the origins of the festival:

“It was a fortuitous and friendly proposal, between a few lovers of harmony and brethren of the correspondent choirs, to commence an anniversary visit, to be kept in turn; which voluntary instance of friendship and fraternity was quickly strengthened by social compact; …by the accession of others, the Society may subsist unto many years, yea, generations, tendering to the furtherance of God’s glory, in the exaltation of His holy worship, to the improvement of our choirs, the credit of our foundations; to the benefit of our cities, the comfort of the fatherless; to the delight of mankind, of ourselves, and all that come nigh us. Upon these grounds, it commenced, and upon these let our brotherly love continue.”

Last week, as far as we know for the very first time, the Chamber Choirs of the three Cathedral Choir Schools joined forces to sing Choral Evensong in Worcester Cathedral. The combined sound of over 70 young singers was exhilarating in the Nave of the Cathedral. The choir was conducted by the Director of Music at King’s Worcester, Simon Taranczuk. He writes, ‘standing in front of the combined choirs was a special moment. Music, and singing in particular, has been particularly impeded by the pandemic. As we, hopefully, are coming out of this dark period, this service performed by so many young and talented singers is a sign of what is to come as all three schools look to resume their full programme of music performances’.

The Canticles were Noble’s grand Victorian setting of the Magnifcat and Nunc Dimittis. The anthem was O thou the central Orb, by Wood in which the choir enjoyed the final triumphant Amen.  The service was attended by a large congregation of staff and families from the three schools. The Headmasters of King’s Worcester and Gloucester read the two readings. Many of the tenors and basses in the choir will have performed as choristers in numerous Three Choirs Festivals in the past. It was particularly pleasing to see some of them meet up and rediscover friendships confirming that ‘friendship and fraternity were quickly strengthened by a social compact’.

It was a very successful occasion for all involved, either as singers, clergy or members of the congregation and plans are already being made for Gloucester to host Choral Evensong in January 2023.