CANTERBURY CHOIR - THE NEXT GENERATION
|Voices of angels - The Canterbury choir perform t|
Meet one of Britain's most squeaky clean boy bands. Like other groups
they perform in front of crowds of thousands, but their stage isn't a pop concert
arena, it's a cathedral.
Join Inside Out as for the first time in
its 1400 year history, Canterbury Cathedral allows BBC cameras to follow the auditions
for 2005's choirboys.
The Canterbury Cathedral choir consists of boys
aged between eight and 14 trained to perform before royalty, world leaders and
congregations of thousands.
"It is an opportunity second to none,"
explains Master of the Choristers, David Flood.
|"It is an opportunity second to none."|
|Master of the Choristers, David Flood|
in Canterbury Cathedral which has a very important role in the Church of England
and also worldwide.
"The eyes of the world turn themselves on you."
As Master of the Choristers, David is in charge of selecting Canterbury's
next generation of choirboys and competition is fierce.
From numerous applications,
just 12 have been chosen to attend auditions to compete for five available places
in the choir.
Charlie George from Kent and Cameron
Walker from East Sussex are two seven-year-olds both competing for one of a handful
of places in the world famous Canterbury Cathedral choir.
about half a dozen boys are selected each year depending on the number of boys
who have left during the year previous.
They stay in the choir until their
voices break, normally when they are 12 or 13 years old.
They will Evensong
six times a week (having Wednesday as a day off) plus the main Sung Eucharist
service on Sunday mornings.
There are also extra services, such as weddings,
funerals, and one-off great occasions such as the Enthronement of a new Archbishop.
choristers attend rehearsals every morning before school and some evening ones,
so each week the boys may spend 12-14 hours in the Cathedral.
learns at least two musical instruments.
Source: Canterbury Cathedral
Charlie's mum and dad, Alison and Andy, insist their son is a natural
when it comes to performing.
"He just seems to revel in anything like
this," explains Alison.
Whilst Cameron's mum, Katherine, realised her
son was gifted after hearing him perform in a school play.
sing like an angel really," says Katherine.
"Whether he gets in
or not, he'll still be our angel."
Cameron have what is known in the singing world as the "makings of a voice".
Both have the potential to become top flight choristers, but with 12 boys
and only five places, will they make the grade?
To the untrained ear, the
boys auditioning maybe a far cry from the melodious tones of Aled Jones, but David
is searching for raw talent which has the potential to be trained.
the energy, it's the personality, the spark behind the voice," explains David.
|Seven-year-old Cameron has the "makings of a voice"|
It is not just a place in the coveted choir and
expert music tuition that the boys are competing for, but a scholarship worth
£9,000-a-year to attend St Edmund's School, Canterbury.
The 29 Canterbury
choirboys are all boarders, living in a 16th century house at the back of the
This poses a difficult decision for parents.
be able to tuck him up at night and I've thought about that for a long time,"
has been a choir school in The Precincts for many hundreds, possibly going back
to the time of St Augustine himself, who came to Canterbury in 597.
Statutes of the Cathedral, dating from the reign of Henry VIII, say that there
should be ten choristers, "boys of tender age both with musical voices and
apt for singing, who shall serve, minister and sing in the Choir."
ex Choristers include Oz Clarke, Harry Christophers (founder of the leading choir
The Sixteen), Christopher Seaman (international conductor), and Trevor Pinnock
(international musician and harpsichordist).
Until 1972, the Choir School
was a separate school with 60 boys, 30 boarders and 30 day boys.
1972, Choir House has been part of St Edmund's School, with 30 boarders.
"As a parent you have to look
at what's in the best interest of your child and concentrate on that."
mum Alison agrees.
"It's a marvellous opportunity that will really
Before they can audition to become
a Canterbury chorister, Cameron and Charlie have to sit an entrance exam for St
"Having a good voice and the potential to learn musically
is important, but they must also be able to cope with the academic curriculum
we follow," insists Robert Bacon, Headmaster of St Edmund's Junior School.
Like most young children, Charlie and Cameron take the pressures of exams
comfortably in their stride - it's their parents that are left pacing with nerves
With the academic auditions complete, Charlie and Cameron are given
their chance to shine in the musical ones.
Hitting the high notes
|Charlie hopes his audition will secure him a place in the
The boys each have 10 minutes to perform a song, scales
and play an instrument.
"I need to take time, put them at their ease
and allow them to do their best," says David.
The 12 auditioning choristers
sing their hearts out for just five coveted places and making a decision is no
"It would be lovely to take them all, but I can't,"
With exams complete and the audition over, there is nothing
left for the families of Charlie and Cameron to do except wait.
for one is determined to remain pragmatic.
"I don't mind if I get in
or if I don't get in
I just hope I get in."
|The Canterbury choristers of 1923|
courtesy: Canterbury Cathedral
After four hours of
auditions, David and Robert are left with some tough decisions - 12 boys and only
Taking into consideration the boys academic performance in
the exam and their musical performance in the audition, they finally reach a decision.
months of extra tuition and singing lessons have paid off for Cameron - he is
Mum Katherine is overjoyed and overcome with emotion.
Charlie the news isn't as good. It is a close decision and unfortunately, he doesn't
make it through to the final five.
enquiries regarding Canterbury choir auditions please contact:
Flood, Master of the Choristers
soon bounces back from his disappointment though to take the lead role in a local
play - we're sure we haven't heard the last of Charlie yet!
however, Canterbury awaits. He has the makings of a voice and now it is up to
David Flood to turn it into the voice of top flight chorister.