The Choristers of Jesus College are not simply maintaining an ancient tradition; they lead an exciting life, receiving an incomparable musical education, as well as enjoying the social and recreational aspects of the weekly schedule. The self-discipline, motivation, commitment and team spirit fostered through the music are invaluable skills for life.
Jesus College does not maintain a choir school, so choristers are instead drawn from local schools. In addition to the regular services - which parents and families are welcome to attend - and practices during term-time, the Choir enjoys a busy schedule of recordings, broadcasts, concerts and tours. Recent trips have taken the choir to Switzerland, France, the USA, and Germany.
How does a boy start?
If accepted, boys begin an introductory course twice a week, and over a period of a year or so (depending on age) take up more of the choristers’ responsibilities. Full choristers are expected to attend two services and two rehearsals each week during University Full Term.
Is there a cost involved?
There is no cost to the chorister. Choristers are paid at the end of each term, receiving 'pocket money' in cash. The College also contributes to an amount held in trust, based on the length of a chorister's service, which is released as a stipend at the end of their time in the choir. Thanks to the generosity of an old member of the College, a fund exists for financial support towards the cost of instrumental tuition to enrich and aid the understanding of the music they sing with the Choir.
Our Director of Music, Benjamin Sheen, is pleased to hear from prospective choristers at any time. Please contact the Choir and Chapel Office Coordinator to arrange an informal meeting, at which Mr Sheen can assess vocal potential and advise parents and their sons accordingly.
Further information about becoming a chorister can be found it in this leaflet.
Theo (Junior Chorister)
"I have been in the choir for three years and I love it. When I was a Junior Probationer everyone was very friendly and there are always lots of jokes and laughs in our rehearsals.
"We sing lots of music, all by different composers – some tricky, some easy. My favourite anthem is Strengthen Ye The Weak Hands by Wiliam Harris. I also love the sound we make when we sing together with the Combined Choir. I was really proud to be the first chorister to be awarded the John Hughes Medal earlier this year, and I met Dr Hughes's parents who came to the service specially.
"We have sung in Ely Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral and in Switzerland and France in the last two years. It was amazing singing with the Britten Sinfonia and hearing the soloists in Bach's St Matthew's Passion.
"The two organ scholars teach us theory every week which is very helpful for our music exams. We also get paid pocket money which is great and every year we record a CD which is pretty cool. Choir is definitely the best part of my week."
Gus (Former Chorister)
"I was a Chorister with the Chapel Choir of Jesus College Cambridge for three years, between 2013 and 2016, and throughout that time the opportunities the Choir opened up to me continued to surprise me. Firstly, Jesus College is an extremely comfortable and friendly environment and having the pleasure to sing here from any background is definitely one of the great benefits of the college recruiting choristers from different parts of Cambridgeshire. This means that I was able to spend my time with a variety of different people, making it extremely easy to find a friend. The time choristers spend together also allows and encourages them to work as a close group of fantastic singers, this relationship even extends outside of the performing side of being a chorister and into the social side. The college regularly holds parties for the boys which are enjoyed by all of the choristers, and are one of the highlights from a chorister point of view, though maybe not from the adults who have to oversee them!
"While the social side is fantastic, the real reason for the Choir is the singing and performing, and Jesus College is the crème de la crème in terms of singing pleasure and performance. One of only three colleges in Cambridge that keeps a choir of boy choristers, simply singing with such an array of fantastic voices around you is something very special. Despite the high standards, a very careful experience system means both new probationers are not being pushed too hard and are not out of their comfort zone, while also allows them to look up to older choristers for support, and eventually when they become senior choristers to give them a sense of responsibility that is extremely useful in later life. The choir sings two services a week and rehearses separately from the services twice, meaning the choristers are here for around twelve hours a week, a time that is not too fatiguing but allows the choristers to become fantastic singers and individuals in a very short time.
"Through the singing, members of the choir have been given fantastic opportunities for singing in lots of different environments. During my time as a chorister I went on tour once to France and twice to Switzerland. This gave me the opportunity to sing in lots of different places and allowed me to perform to a variety of audiences who were always appreciative of the choir’s performance. I was also able to sing in prestigious places such as St Paul's Cathedral in London and St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, which is an experience only a few choirs can offer.
"The choir is also extremely beneficial for its members after they leave, experiences they receive teach them to be responsible and mature, it teaches them to lead and also respect their leaders, and also gives them fantastic memories of their time with Jesus. The relationships the boys gain in the choir are kept for life and even after leaving it is fantastic to still have the support from your previous colleagues.
"In conclusion the choir has been a wonderful experience I will never forget, and I urge that anyone able to join the choir will consider it to be something fantastic for their future as well."