The choirs of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin are highly regarded throughout Ireland and beyond for their beautiful music making.
Both the adult cathedral choir and girls’ choir work hard throughout the year to to support the worship in the cathedral; delighting visitors and regular members of the congregation alike.
However, singing in the choir of Christ Church Dublin is not like being in a typical Anglican cathedral choir. There are a few differences which set the music at Christ Church apart from the traditional cathedral set up.
Demanding and Varied Repertoire
Many cathedrals rely on the regular rotation of well-known pieces of music, including lots of ‘old favorites’ from the Victorian era. However, in Christ Church the repertoire is quite varied; the music list regularly containing lesser-known but nonetheless very worthwhile pieces spanning five centuries, but with a particular emphasis on renaissance and modern music.
Attention to Detail
The Christ Church choir enjoys the enviable reputation of being one of Ireland’s finest choirs. Precise phrasing and an attention to detail result in a carefully balanced ensemble and tone. The time dedicated to preparation and rehearsal is slightly greater than in other cathedral choirs, and this investment pays dividends.
There is a half-hour rehearsal before Evensong on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and a full hour before Eucharist and Evensong on Sundays. This generous allocation of time enables the choir to run all the music for the forthcoming service, and to polish the music.
Opportunities for Adult Women
The main cathedral choir is entirely composed of adult singers; comprising female sopranos, male and female altos, and male tenors and basses. Opportunities for adult women to sing church music at this level beyond the collegiate system are very rare, and Christ Church prides itself on the high calibre of female church musicians who perform during the five services a week. In fact it is the only Anglican professional mixed-voice cathedral choir in the British Isles.
Many of the current choir members have had previous experience singing in college choirs, both in Ireland and the UK, and enjoy the chance to further their musical experience in a cathedral choir. Some join the choir as choral scholars, during gap years or while studying in Dublin. Others perform with us for a couple of years after leaving college, or join from other church and cathedral choirs.
The Christ Church choir sing five choral services a week: Evensong at 6.00pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Evensong at 5.00pm on Saturdays, and Eucharist at 11.00am and Evensong at 3.30pm on Sundays. The mid-week commitment is obviously less than that of other cathedrals who sing every day. The service start times during the week are also a bit later in the evening than other choirs, meaning that it’s easier to balance the commitment of singing with that of another career.
Choir members are also offered a variety of different contracts, based upon the commitment a singer can give; typically requiring attendance at 3, 4, or 5 services each week.
The Christ Church choir are very lucky to enjoy the full support and encouragement of the clergy and board of the cathedral. Musical excellence is a firm priority within the cathedral, and the music team occupies a central role in the worship and life of the church.
There are around 20 Lay Vicars Choral engaged by the cathedral, forming a choir with the general configuration of 8 sopranos, 4 altos, 4 tenors, and 4 basses – however numbers obviously vary over time. There are also four members of staff in the music department: Judy Martin, Director of Music; Tristan Russcher, Assistant Director of Music; John Mountford, Organ Scholar; and Peter Parshall, Music Development Officer.
Extensive resources are provided to support singers, in addition to the generous rehearsal time. Recordings of music are available on request, as are weekly note-bashing sessions with the organ scholar. An additional allowance is also set aside for voice lessons.
In addition to the normal weekly services, the choir performs regular concerts throughout the year, and has an active recording, broadcasting and touring schedule. Other musical opportunities exist beyond the cathedral throughout the rest of the city, such as depping at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and performing in Dublin’s numerous choirs, choral societies, opera companies, and orchestras.
To read more about the music at Christ Church Dublin, visit the music department section of the cathedral website.