Winchester Cathedral Choir

Winchester Cathedral Choir



The Winchester Cathedral Choir is one of the most celebrated ensembles active in England's great tradition of choirs consisting of boy choristers and adult lay clerks. In addition to performing music for services at the cathedral, the choir gives concerts, broadcasts often on BBC television and radio, and has amassed a large discography.

The Winchester Cathedral Choir as a fixed institution probably dates back to the late 14th century; an organist was listed as having been paid in 1402. Music has certainly been heard at the cathedral, however, since its founding in the year 1079; it is one of Britain's oldest and most imposing cathedral structures. The group currently includes 22 boy choristers, who come from all over the United Kingdom and beyond. Aged between 8 and 13, they attend the cathedral's own Pilgrims' School and receive a general education as well as a scholarship covering 60 percent of the school's fees. Each chorister goes through a probationary period during which he wears a red cassock and white ruff, graduating to all white when he takes his place in the choir. The ranks of the choristers are filled by open audition, and prospective choristers and their parents can visit the cathedral's music department at any time to learn more. The boy choristers are joined by 12 adult male lay clerks, who are professional singers and are paid a cathedral salary. For larger works, the choir may be joined by the 20-member Cathedral Girls' Choir (founded in 1999), the Cathedral Nave Choir (which sings non-service music), and the Cathedral Youth and Junior Choirs.

The Winchester Cathedral Choir has been conducted since 2002 by Andrew Lumsden. The group has a long list of recordings dating back to the LP era; in the late 2010s the choir has recorded mostly for the Hyperion, PentaTone Classics, Eloquence, and Regent label. In 2019, on Hyperion, the choir released an album devoted to the choral music of John Tavener.