The Choir at St Mary’s Cathedral is one of Scotland’s finest. It is made up of boys, girls, women and men from all walks of life and with many levels of musical expertise and experience, who give of their time and talent on an entirely voluntary basis to sing to a professional standard. Membership of the choir currently stands at around thirty-five adults and sixteen to twenty children.
The choir’s principal function is to provide the music and help lead the worship at the Cathedral’s two main services every Sunday: Sung Eucharist at 10.30 am and Choral Evensong at 6.30 pm. Services are preceded by a rehearsal, and there is a rehearsal once a week, currently on Thursday evenings.
In addition to these important duties, the choir also sings for regular special services, occasional concerts, broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio, has appeared on TV, and every year they sing in one of the great British Cathedrals for a weekend, or sometimes, a week. The choir have also in recent times, recorded a variety of CDs.
St Mary’s Cathedral Choir performs a very wide range of music, from the most ancient to the most modern; in fact, the choir has commissioned a great deal of new music from contemporary composers such as David Bednall, Owain Park, Malcolm Archer, Richard Shephard, Martin Dalby and Richard Pantcheff, as well as local composers such as Oliver Searle, John Bell, Steve Davismoon, John McIntosh and John Gormley. Composition students from the nearby Conservatoire and University also have the opportunity to have their works sung by the choir.
Education and training
This choir is a nurturing place, and one of the few choirs in the area where young singers can gain the necessary experience and musicianship skills to apply for University Choral Scholarships. In recent years many of our young singers have gained Choral Scholarships to prestigious University choirs: Trinity College, Gonville and Caius College and Jesus College in Cambridge, Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, Aberdeen University Chapel and Chamber Choirs, St Andrews Chapel Choir, Glasgow University Chapel Choir. Former choristers have also gained places to study singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. One chorister has also gone to sing with Genesis 16, the training choir for the world famous choir The Sixteen, and another has gained a Choral Scholarship, as a tenor, to the choir of Gloucester Cathedral.
Members of the choir are a very sociable group, and fraternising after rehearsals and services is an important part of the choir’s life. There are regular parties, and the choristers are sometimes treated to trips out to tourist attractions and the like.
Broadcasts, Radio and TV
The Choir has now made more than 50 appearances on Radio and TV. They broadcast regularly for the Daily Service on Radio 4, and have frequently featured on the same station’s Morning Worship on Sundays. They are regulars on Radio 2’s Sunday Half-Hour, as well as featuring on special programmes on Radio 2, Radio 4, the BBC World Service and Radio Scotland. In the last ten years, the choir has appeared on BBC TV’s Songs of Praise programme more than a dozen times.
There are now four CDs of the Cathedral Choir available, which ably demonstrate the diversity of their repertoire.
- Coming to our Senses is a collection of accessible modern worship material, hymns, refrains and sequences
- Haec Dies is a complete service, including readings and prayers, of traditional Festival Choral Evensong, as you might expect to hear it in St Mary’s on any special feast-day.
- Listen is an eclectic selection of our diverse repertoire, and the first CD to include our young choristers
- Midwinter is a Christmas collection
CDs are available to purchase on this site.
St Mary’s Cathedral Choir has on occasion undertaken to sing concerts and services in various venues around Glasgow and in the Diocese. In 1990 the choir sang in every mainland Scottish Episcopal Cathedral in just 24 hours! This was done to help raise money for, and awareness of, the cathedral’s restoration programme, which was ongoing at the time.
Since then, the choir has sung in Rosslyn Chapel, and St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Salisbury, Lichfield, Ripon, Durham, Portsmouth, Lincoln and Chester Cathedrals, Beverley Minster and Tewkesbury Abbey. Forthcoming venues include Manchester and Gloucester Cathedrals, and York Minster.
Any singers who would like to know more about the choir and possible membership are encouraged to contact the Organist and Director of Music, Mr Frikki Walker.