Wells Cathedral Choir was hailed in 2011 by an international jury from Gramophone magazine as the greatest choir with children in the world, and the sixth greatest overall. The choir celebrated its 1100th birthday in 2009: boys first sang at Wells Cathedral in 909 and the full choral tradition dates back over 800 years. In 1994 the choral foundation at Wells was enriched by the addition of girl choristers. Today the choir consists of 18 boy choristers, 18 girl choristers and 12 Vicars Choral (the men of the choir). The boys and girls usually sing separately with the Vicars Choral but occasionally come together for larger events and tours.
The choir is at the heart of the worshipping life of the Cathedral, and sings a wide repertoire of music ranging from the Renaissance period to the present day. It sings throughout the cathedral’s festival, launched in June 2008: new music wells, giving a number of premieres as well as featuring music from the previous forty years. It has premiered works from some of today’s finest composers, including Lord Michael Berkeley CBE, Judith Bingham, Geoffrey Burgon, Bob Chilcott, Jonathan Dove, Gabriel Jackson, John Joubert, Sir James MacMillan CBE, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE (former Master of the Queen’s Music), Tarik O’Regan, John Rutter, Howard Skempton, and Sir John Tavener.
Wells Cathedral Choir broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and its innovative recordings over the last eleven years for Hyperion Records and Regent Records have won international praise and has had two discs made Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine.
As well as the liturgical musical repertoire the choir performs larger scale choral works in concert, with recent collaborations including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Britten War Requiem), Jools Holland and his band (Jools Holland Mass), Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society (Britten St Nicolas and War Requiem), Dame Felicity Lott, Dame Emma Kirkby, James Bowman CBE, and Wells Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra (at a royal gala concerts at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and St James’s Palace, London). In September 2014 the choristers sang with the Berlin Radio Choir and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle OM, in a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the BBC Proms.
The choir has toured extensively with recent tours to France, Germany, The Netherlands, Hong Kong and Beijing.
‘The choir is, in a word, magnificent singing with impressive self-assurance’
International Record Review
‘Glorious, life-affirming and distinctive choral music in superbly polished performances’