A choir has sung at the daily services in this magnificent building since its foundation over 900 years ago, with an unbroken tradition of choral music through today. Beginning with the monks, who sang for the first five hundred years, the musical establishment to Norwich cathedral was refounded in 1538 when the previous monastic foundation was dissolved. Provision was then made for six choristers and sixteen adult singers.
The Cathedral Choir consists of sixteen boys (aged 8-13), all of whom attend Norwich School, and twelve men, six of whom are choral scholars. It sings regularly at six choral services a week during term and also at many of the special services held in the Cathedral – especially during Holy Week, Easter and Christmas. The choir's repertoire includes music by all the great English composers of the last five hundred years and also many works by continental composers from Josquin to Messiaen.
In September 1995 The Cathedral Girls' Choir was formed. They sing regularly in The Cathedral at Tuesday evensong and on Sundays both on their own and with the gentlemen of the Cathedral Choir.
Norwich Cathedral Choir by Frederic G. Kitton. London. Dr Buck was a chorister, then organist & choirmaster at Norwich Cathedral for seventy years from 1807 to 1877. This fascinating memoir includes anecdotes such as him giving soloists phials of port wine to imbibe before singing and shutting a boy in a dark cupboard so that he could realize the meaning of "Without Thee, all is dark" in Mendelssohn's "Hear my prayer". (The ungrateful urchin replied to his enqiry: "Please sir, No sir; there's a crack in the door!") There is also a description of how he developed the head register by getting boys to practice with the mouth shut. One observer commented: "It is wonderful how much higher some pupils can sing with the mouth shut; one boy who could not sing well above F sharp with the natural voice, reached up to C with closed mouth." (This is reminiscent of Emma Calve's achieving piano high notes, maintained for a surprising length of time, by following advice from the Turkish castrato Domenico Mustafa to practice with her mouth tight shut for two hours a day.) Dr Buck was held in such high regard that he provided Norwich choristers to sing the solo parts in the "St Matthew Passion" at Westminster Abbey in 1872. Long out of print.
— Review by Brian Pearson
This page last modified on Thursday, January 01, 2004