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Image of Jesus College Choristers

Local children try out life as choirboys at Jesus College

Twenty local boys sang Evensong alongside the renowned Jesus College Choir at a free ‘Be a Chorister for the Day’ event last Saturday.

The College holds an open event every year, alternating between ‘Singing Days’ for boys and girls run with St Catharine’s College, and ‘Be a Chorister’ days which encourage boys to explore singing further. The boys were not required to have any previous musical experience. The children enjoyed the challenge of singing with the current choirboys.

Mum Rachael has two boys in the Choir, 10 year old Olly and 8 year old Bertie. Olly attended the ‘Be a Chorister for the Day’ event two years ago and encouraged his brother to audition last year.

Rachael said: “It is an amazing opportunity. They sing with great musicians and orchestras, and get a fantastic musical education for free. They go on tour, sometimes abroad, and they always come home buzzing. It doesn’t affect their schooling. The boys both go to Milton Road Primary, which encourages the children to apply. I always recommend the Choir to other families.” Bertie said: “I love it. The best bit is all the parties, we’ve even been to nerf gun parties. My friends at school don’t say much about me being in the Choir, but they are jealous of the pocket money we get.”

Mark Williams, Director of Music at Jesus College, said: “There are currently 24 boys from 16 different schools in the Choir. The opportunity to join a choir should be available to children from all schools and all backgrounds, whether or not they have previous musical training or a religious faith. At Saturday’s event, the boys rehearsed in the afternoon, then had a break for juice and biscuits – essential if you want boys aged 7-11 to concentrate! At 6.30pm they sang in a service of Evensong in the College’s ancient and beautiful Chapel alongside the current choristers. On Sunday we held formal auditions for boys who were interested in pursuing this opportunity further. Being part of the Choir here is very much about joining a family and I hope that the parents love the experience as much as the boys themselves. It does require commitment and some sacrifice, but I believe that the education offered by regular rehearsals, services, concerts, recordings and tours is an invaluable one. We hope that our event has encouraged the children who took part to explore singing further - Cambridge is undoubtedly one of the most ‘choral’ cities in the world and there are countless opportunities for all children - and adults - to sing across the city.”

Jesus College is one of only three Colleges in Cambridge with boy choristers, and the only College where these choristers attend local schools and live at home. St Catharine’s College offers a similar choir for girls. The Choristers receive regular voice lessons and receive a small sum of pocket money each term. There is no cost involved in membership of the Choir and the College operates a bursary scheme which supports the cost of instrumental tuition with private teachers.

The critically-acclaimed Choir of Jesus College has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with their latest CD release Out of Darkness topping the UK’s specialist classical charts in February 2015.

More information about choristerships for boys and forthcoming choir performances can be found at www.jesuscollegechoir.com

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