The Parish Church of All Saints became the Cathedral for the new Diocese of Wakefield in 1888, and is now one of three cathedrals forming the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. Wakefield Cathedral has developed a splendid tradition of liturgy and music which attracts congregations from a wide area. Wakefield has long had a traditional choir of men and boys. In 1992 we became only the second cathedral in Britain to establish a girls choir.
The Cathedral Choir consists of boys, girls and lay clerks. Most of the boys are educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and receive choral scholarships. They are aged from 8 to 13. Girl choristers were introduced in 1992, shortly after their introduction at Salisbury Cathedral. Aged from 8 to 18 they are recruited from various schools. The lay clerks in some cases travel vast distances in their devotion to the musical worship and liturgy for which the Cathedral is famed.
The Choir sings choral evensong on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and occasionally Friday. Sunday sung services are the Parish Eucharist, Solemn Eucharist and Evensong. Usually the boys and girls sing separately, either by themselves or with the men. On very special occasions we can amalgamate all our resources. The boys, girls and men undertake a full programme of services, concerts, recordings and TV appearances. Recently they produced their first CD to feature the whole choral foundation. Despite the various extra activities outlined below, which enable the Cathedral's ministry and worship to be spread more widely, the Choir's primary work remains, and will always remain, the offering of the highest standards of music in the regular services of the Cathedral.
In the 1970s the Cathedral Choir took an active part in the West Riding Cathedrals Festival (together with the choirs of Bradford and Sheffield Cathedrals). Since 1981 it has teamed up with the choirs of Ripon Cathedral and Leeds Parish Church in the Yorkshire Three Choirs Festival. The first Yorkshire Girls' Choirs Festival took place at Wakefield in 1998 (girls and men from York Minster, Ripon, Sheffield and Wakefield Cathedrals, and Leeds Parish Church).
National tours started in 1975 with a visit to Wells Cathedral (also in 1976); Winchester, Salisbury, Chichester, Portsmouth and Arundel followed in 1977, and St. Paul's Cathedral in 1980.Overseas tours started with two visits to Germany: Unna in 1979, and Braunschweig in 1981.The 1983 tour was to Le Puy in France, and three years later the choir made a return visit to Unna. The two American tours in 1991 and 1995 were to the eastern seaboard of the United States, from Boston through New York and Baltimore to Washington. A tour of Scotland in 1993 featured the music of Leighton. In 1999 the Choir visited Salzburg and southern Germany and in 2003 the venue was Rome and Tuscany. More recently the boys have toured the Isle of Man, and spent five days singing in cathedrals and churches in Belgium (including a very moving service at the Menin Gate), receiving excellent reviews not only of their music making, but also their conduct!
The girls' first overseas tour with the men was to Sweden in 2001, followed by a week's residency at Chichester in 2004. They have since visited the Rhineland, enjoyed a week's residency at Exeter Cathedral and in the Autumn of 2009 sang a series of services and concerts in and around New York City, including Sunday services at the church of St Thomas Fifth Avenue, 'home' of former Wakefield Chorister and Assistant Organist, John Scott, who died in 2015.
Joining The Choir
There are currently vacancies in Wakefield Cathedral Choir for Boy Choristers. If you would like to hear more in general about joining the choir as a boy, girl or adult lay clerk, please contact Thomas Moore on 01924 373923 or by email at Tom.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ten reasons for joining:
- Enjoy singing as an enthralling leisure activity for life.
- Benefit from expert musical training and individual singing tuition only available in a few centres of musical excellence.
- Have the chance to sing in front of the Queen and at other important occasions.
- Sing live on national radio.
- Learn how CDs are made and be part of the recording.
- Take part in the annual Yorkshire Three Choirs Festival with the choirs of Ripon Cathedral and Leeds Parish Church.
- Go on singing tours both here and abroad - Cathedral Boy Choristers have sung in America (twice), Germany (4 times), Austria and Italy.
- Sing in glorious buildings like York Minster and Leeds Town Hall, Salzburg Cathedral and on Broadway.
- Be part of the English Cathedral Music tradition, famed the world over.
- There are only 42 cathedrals in mainland England - so being a Cathedral Chorister is something special!
It is a real privilege to be able to sing in Wakefield Cathedral Choir which has a national reputation for excellence in worship. All choristers receive payment from the Cathedral. The commitment normally involves singing at four services each week, but the duties are sensibly phased in. We are looking for boys aged 7-10.
Old Choristers' Association
Wakefield Cathedral has a thriving and active Old Choisters' Association and their website can be accessed here: