Great St. Mary’s has a long history. The church has a dual role as a Parish church, and church to the University of Cambridge, as such, it has always attracted musicians of the highest calibre both from within the University and outside. The Church is an imposing and beautiful building, and is one of few to boast two fine pipe organs, which are often used together for special services.
About the Choirs
There are opportunities for singers at Great St Mary’s from around the age of five onward. The youngest singers (ages 5-7) form the Junior Choir, which is conducted by professional soprano and singing teacher Helen Groves. They meet several times a month, and perform occasionally at services in Great St Mary’s or Michaelhouse. They also have a lively social calendar!
The main choirs comprise a ‘back row’ of altos, tenors and basses, and three independent soprano lines, of boys, girls and a girls’ chamber choir. These groups are often heard on their own, and join forces in a number of different combinations, offering a very diverse breadth of repertoire and experiences.
Places in the younger sections of the choir are open to singers from around the age of eight. Places in the back row are open to keen singers of any age, who share our passion for choral music. We also have a special rehearsal each for boys whose voices are changing, to help them get used to their ‘new’ voice.
Throughout their time in the Choir, singers learn about music, and receive singing coaching as a group from the Director of Music, and individually from Helen Groves. The choirs’ work ties in well with Examinations in Music Theory and instruments, also with GCSE and A-level music syllabuses. Singing with the Choir is the ideal preparation to apply for Choral Scholarships at University, and several former choristers have held scholarships at prestigious choral foundations across the country. Click here to see information on Choral Scholarships at Cambridge University.
Each of the sections of the ‘main’ choirs may be required to sing at any of the three choral services on Sundays – Parish Communion, Choral Mattins and Choral Evensong, plus other services for festivals and special occasions. A schedule outlining the commitments for each section of the choir is produced at the start of each term.
Our comprehensive booklet will give you all the details you need to make contact and plan your entry into one of our choirs. Please contact the Director of Music for a copy.
Rehearsals normally take place every week during school term, with a break during half term. In addition, members of choir are also required at Easter, Christmas, and the immediate run-up to these major festivals. Although commitment to regular attendance is expected, allowances can be made for holidays and other absences.
4.15-5.30pm: Boys (trebles)
7.30-9pm: Girls’ Chamber Choir
6.45-8.15pm: Older Boys (altos, tenors and basses)
The Occasional Choir
The Occasional Choir is for adults who enjoy singing but cannot manage the regular commitment required by the main choir. They often sing during holidays.
Joining the Choirs
Entry to the main choirs is normally by short and friendly audition. No audition is needed for our youngest singers to join the Junior Choir, nor for moving up to the main choirs from the Junior Choir. The Director of Music, Sam Hayes, is always keen to hear from keen and committed singers interested in joining our community of music makers here. He can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01223 741716.