Canterbury Cathedral has announced that from September 2023, membership of its boys’ choir will be open to children from any school, with compulsory boarding no longer being a requirement to be in the choir.


The Cathedral is committed to progressing equality and inclusion throughout the establishment and this change means that both the boys’ and girls’ choirs are on an equal footing.

The boy choristers (aged 8-13) and girl choristers (aged 12-18) will each sing three services a week and will be able to attend any local school.

The Very Reverend Dr David Monteith, Dean of Canterbury, said: ‘Music is an integral part of worship in which the Cathedral takes great pride. We have a united vision of Canterbury Cathedral that blesses and serves the people of Canterbury and the wider community.

'We believe that this announcement helps children across the area benefit from the life-changing experience that singing in a cathedral choir offers whilst ensuring the continuation of the choir for generations to come.

David Newsholme, the cathedral's director of music, added: ‘We want music-making in our cathedral not just to survive, but to evolve and flourish, and we share the Cathedral Music Trust’s commitment to enabling children from a diverse range of backgrounds to experience the many benefits that come from being a chorister.

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'We believe that this is the way to secure the future of the choir and we are excited to be moving forwards into this new era building on the strengths of our two well-established and respected choirs.’

Canterbury Cathedral Choir consists of adult singers, boy choristers aged between 8 and 13, and girl choristers aged between 12 and 18. The choir boasts an impressive list of alumni including Sir Mark Elder, Trevor Pinnock and Harry Christophers, among many others.

Harry Christophers
Harry Christophers, founder of The Sixteen, was a Canterbury chorister who benefitted from the choir's inclusive recruitment policy

Harry Christophers, founder and conductor of The Sixteen and a former Canterbury chorister, said: ‘I am very much indebted to the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral for the incredible experience it gave me as a chorister back in the 1960s. It instilled in me a passion for music, and, without doubt, I would not be where I am today without that opportunity.

'I came from a very humble background and without the inclusive recruitment policy that was practised during my tenure, my parents would not have had the means to fund compulsory private schooling, nor would they have wished me to board - making joining the choir an impossibility.


'I am very much in support of this move to enable children from a diverse range of backgrounds to experience the many benefits that come from being a chorister.’


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.