The Choirs of Jesus College are uniquely involved in the local community of Cambridge. Rather than maintaining a choir school, Jesus recruits all its Choristers from local schools, helping many young boys to gain access to a musical education that might not otherwise have been available to them. As well as this, the Chapel Choir also runs Singing Days, when children aged 6-11 can enjoy workshops with vocal experts and participate in a concert alongside current Choristers. No musical experience is necessary to take part in these events, and all are welcome. These events, often held jointly with the girls’ choir at St Catharine’s College (which offers similar opportunities to girls from local schools), are not primarily intended as recruitment events, but allow the College to share its facilities and expertise with the local community. Details of future singing days may be found here.
Choristerships, choral scholarships and organ scholarships at Jesus College Cambridge are open to all regardless of their background. Whilst choristers may be offered places in the choir on the basis of musical promise, at undergraduate level evidence of musical achievement, vocal facility, reading ability and musicality will be essential. Mindful that opportunities for musical study are not available to all at school age, the Director of Music and the College are committed to widening their outreach activities to encourage more applicants for choral and organ awards. A principal focus of recent outreach activity has been in the primary sector with current Choral Scholars visiting schools in Cambridgeshire and Sussex to lead workshops in singing. The College’s Singing Days (see above) also exist to encourage singing in young children in line with Mark Williams’s firmly-held belief that a love of singing and music needs to be developed early in life. There may be occasional stars who only discover their vocal talent in their late teenage years, but it is more often years of practice and exposure to music from the age of six or seven upwards that mark the path to a place in one of Cambridge’s celebrated chapel choirs.
The Choirs of Jesus College enjoy the opportunity to welcome visitors to the College’s beautiful Chapel and once or twice each term the Choir is joined by a visiting school choir or youth choir for a joint service. Members of the visiting choirs rehearse and perform in the choir stalls mixed in amongst the current choral scholars in order to make the experience as collaborative as possible, and the visits often involve tea or supper with a chance to meet current choral and organ scholars studying a wide range of subjects. Recent collaborations have included visits from the Grange School Cheshire, Worksop College, Berkshire Youth Choir and Inner Voices, a choir made up of children from inner London state schools.