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The Great Choir Debate

Question 10 - How many people does it take to make a choir?
Jonathan Ansell

Jonathan Ansell: "Hmm - that's a difficult question! I think a choir needs to be, in my eyes, at least 10. Otherwise it's a vocal ensemble I guess. From 10 upwards the sky's the limit really!"

Stephen Bowman

Stephen Bowman: "You've got to have more than one person per part; otherwise it's just a quartet like ourselves. Realistically it's a group thing - it's got to be a large group of people. Obviously what we've seen in this show is that it doesn't matter if it's a very large choir or a very small choir – the effect is the same - it's people working together to create one harmony, one wall of sound. The smaller groups have shown that you can do it with only 12 people, and sometimes they've made more noise than the groups with 50 people!"

Mike Brewer

Mike Brewer: "One??! What a difficult question! When I conduct the National Youth Choir of 130, I can say that it is a chamber choir but a big one... Also a dozen people singing in parts I can say is a choir. But it's a self-definition, it's just a word - it just means people singing together to me... Although if it's only one person it's much easier to blend!!"

Sharon D. Clarke

Sharon D. Clarke: "Gosh! Well in the programme we've got choirs as little as 10, and then in some there are 50! As long as you can make a sound that is choral, as opposed to backing vocals, I think you can be a choir!"

Your Comments

??????Anonamous????????????????????, England 2008-08-16

Oh I don't know it depends. But come to think of it. My favourite choir from the show has 25 people in it. So 25 at the most, actually 25.

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Robert, Portugal 2008-08-03

Last week we enjoyed a live performance here in provincial Portugal by The Swingle Singers. Two hours of totally A Capella singing in mostly jazz style, with movement and some choreography, by 8 people: 2 Sopranos, 2 Altos, 2 Tenors, 2 Basses. But they do not describe themselves as "A Choir". They are what their name says: "Singers".

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matthew jackson, medway 2008-08-02

I think that a choir should be al least 4 as a barbershop choir needs 4 so that should be the minimum

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Carol (Ex Cantamus Girls Choir Mum), Mansfield, Notts 2008-07-15

I honestly think 10 people are not a choir - they are an ensemble. Less than 10 is definitely not a choir. A choir needs at least 15 people.

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Carol(Ex Cantamus Girls Choir Mum), Mansfield 2008-07-12

Enough people to field all parts of the music. A more full sound is obtained with more people. In a mixed choir you can "get away" with less, but a good number for a good sound!!

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SAPPHIRE 2008-07-05


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Sue, East Devon 2008-07-04

I guess I agree with Jonathon, you really need to have at least 10 to make a choir work, from there it can go anywhere. We have a choir of about 100 of a huge variety of ages, yes really, try 7-80 . We've only been together, as a 12 week trial run since Jan 08, and 6 months later we're still going, stronger than ever, it's fantastic. Keep it coming, we all get such a buzz from it.

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Kay, Peterborough 2008-07-03

As Jonathan says, where do you draw a line between a vocal ensemble and a choir? It also depends on what voice you have and how you harmonise. You don't call Ten Tenors a choir, do you? On the other hand, you do not need to have 4 parts. Girl choirs have only 2 parts (plus mezzo or S1, S2 etc)

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