Term Times and Holidays

It may be interesting for some people not involved in cathedral music to learn that choirs normally operate around academic terms.

The involvement of children as boy and girl trebles, and also of young adults as choral scholars, means that choirs very often have to work in sync with schools and universities. The autumn (Michaelmas) term will, however, be extended up to Christmas Day. And similarly the winter term from mid-January onwards is extended up until Easter Day. A week or two of holiday is then often given both after Christmas and Easter. During the summer, a break of about eight weeks is pretty much the norm – usually during July and August (again fitting in with school/university holidays).

When the choir is on holiday, there may not be any music in church, and services may instead be said. This is often a disappointment for visitors on holiday themselves, who may have come along specially to hear the choir. However, during these holiday periods other visiting choirs may take over the duty of singing the regular services in the cathedral. However, it is best to check in advance, to avoid disappointment. The more high-profile cathedrals will mostly have a full schedule of visiting choirs, but other more parochial cathedrals will have gaps in their musical services.

During the holiday periods, the cathedral choir itself may go on tour either nationally or abroad; often fulfilling the duties of a visiting choir in one or more other cathedrals. University and college chapels will often go on tour as well, as well as some parish church choirs.

Appointments to cathedral music jobs often also fit in with academic year pattern. Vacancies for new directors, organists, and layclerks are advertised throughout the year, but the majority of new appointments are made from September onwards.

Similarly places offered to trebles, choral scholars, and organ scholars are based upon academic years – from September to June. However, auditions for these roles can often happen many months in advance – with applications required towards the end of the proceeding calendar year.