Wells Cathedral Choir
Wells Cathedral Choir has recently been hailed by Gramophone Magazine as ‘probably the finest English cathedral choir at the moment’ in ‘world-class form’.
In December 2010 it was named by an international jury, again of Gramophone Magazine, as the sixth greatest choir in the world and the highest ranking choir with children in the world.
The choir celebrated its 1100th anniversary in 2009: boys first sang at Wells Cathedral in 909 and the full choral tradition dates back over 800 years. In 1994 the choral foundation at Wells was enriched by the addition of girl choristers. Today the choir consists of eighteen boy choristers, eighteen girl choristers and twelve Vicars Choral (the men of the choir). The boys and girls usually sing separately with the Vicars Choral but occasionally come together for larger events and tours.
The choir is at the heart of the worshipping life of the Cathedral, and sings a wide repertoire of music ranging from the masterpieces of the Renaissance period to the finest choral works of the present day. New music is also commissioned from some of today’s most exciting composers, including Richard Allain, David Bednall, Judith Bingham, Geoffrey Burgon, Gabriel Jackson, James MacMillan, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (Master of the Queen’s Music), Tarik O’Regan, and John Rutter. The choir sings throughout the cathedral’s festival launched in June 2008: new music wells, giving a number of premiers as well as featuring music from the previous forty years.
Wells Cathedral Choir broadcasts regularly on BBC Radios 2, 3 and 4, and on television. Its innovative recordings for Hyperion Records and Regent Records have won international praise: ‘wonderfully blended, and must rank as one of the top cathedral sounds outside London’ (BBC Music Magazine); ‘currently enjoing a superb top line’ (The Observer), and has had two recent discs make Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine.
As well as the liturgical musical repertoire the choir performs larger scale choral works in concert, with recent collaborations including The King’s Consort (Bach, St Matthew Passion), the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Britten War Requiem), Jools Holland and his band (Jools Holland Mass), Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society (Britten St Nicholas), Aled Jones, and Wells Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra (at a Royal Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden). The choir has toured extensively both in the UK and abroad; with recent tours to Paris (2006) where it gave three concerts and sang Mass to over 3000 people in Notre-Dame Cathedral, the North West of England (2008), Germany (2009). and the Netherlands (2010). This season the choir went on an extremely successful tour to Beijing, China, and Hong Kong October (2012).