The summer term for Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral Choir is usually dominated by choir recruitment, but this year the process is set to be very different for potential choristers. With the necessary government restrictions in place there will be no visits to the Cathedral or auditions in front of the director of music, Dr Chris McElroy, and his staff. Instead the process will be carried out exclusively online via Zoom video conferencing, and various experiments are already under way to redesign the voice trials to ensure that a fair and balanced test is offered to each applicant using an online platform.
In another departure from tradition, the choir is now able to offer a chorister education without the involvement of school fees to any Catholic boy or girl.
As the older choristers leave each year (boys whose voices have changed, and girls preparing for GCSEs), the Choir looks to recruit boys currently in years 2 and 3, and girls currently in year 5. The closing dates for applications are 7 May for boys and 5 June for girls. Those wishing to apply can download an application form at https://www.liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk/music/joining-the-choirs/
Previously, boys were obliged to pay school fees to attend the Cathedral Choir junior school (although many gained scholarships that substantially reduced the fees payable). However, from September 2020, Runnymede St Edward’s Preparatory School will reopen as Runnymede St Edward’s Catholic Primary School, a new voluntary aided school.
Dr McElroy says: ‘We are delighted as this means that all Catholic children throughout the Archdiocese will now have the opportunity to audition for a place as a chorister at the Cathedral, without the burden of school fees, and to be educated at our two Cathedral Choir schools: Runnymede St Edward’s Catholic Primary School [boys, ages 7–10] and St Edward’s College [boys and girls, ages 11–15].’
Since the government lockdown and suspension of public religious services, the Cathedral Choir has been unable to meet in person on a daily basis to sing. Choristers would normally spend around 20 hours a week singing together so this is quite a drastic change to routine. The education of choristers has moved online. Each day the music staff meet virtually with choristers, either individually or in small groups, to work on music theory, vocal technique and keyboard skills. These sessions are vital both for the ongoing education of choristers and for the keeping of a sense of community between choir members and the Cathedral.
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