Alleyn Singers at Worcester Cathedral
Judy Dixey from the Alleyn Singers, writes about the roving choirs that sing in some of the great abbeys, cathedrals and churches around England during holiday times.
All over the country, the great cathedrals are continuing the traditions of daily worship and prayer to the glory of God. Many of these services are sung, by choirs consisting of lay male singers and boys (and now girls) taking the upper parts. Have you ever thought what happens when they are on holiday? Do the great cathedrals fall silent?
Well, if you have ever wandered into a great cathedral during the summer or at half terms, you may have attended prayerful services with no music, but the chances are that you will have encountered a visiting choir.
There are numerous choirs which offer to provide the singing and the music for the traditional services of Matins and Evensong, with Sung Eucharist on Sundays. The music can range from ancient plainsong, to contemporary, though much of it comes from the great early Anglican/Catholic composers, Byrd, Purcell, or the 19th and 20th century composers and organists Bairstow, Wesley, Howells, and Wood. As a singer, it is an enormous privilege to sing these great pieces in places where worship has taken place over centuries and where the architecture competes to draw your attention towards wonder, worship, and of course, astonishment at what mediaeval (and contemporary) architects achieved and what has survived.
There are many groups singing in cathedrals, including choirs from overseas; I am now with the Alleyn Singers, directe by the distinguished organist and conductor Norman Harper. The choir spends a week together every two years, plus the occasional weekends, at places as varied as Westminster Abbey, Guildford, Canterbury and now at Worcester. The week is a mix of holiday, singers’ boot camp and retreat; away from home, singing every day, ‘performing’ every day for a congregation is both tremendous fun and a tremendous challenge.
Good singers are needed, and you must be prepared to commit both time and energy (there is no fee), but the rewards are also tremendous. It is indeed worth it for the opportunity to sing and worship and contribute to the unceasing cycle of prayer in the life of the church.
So if you sing, do think about joining with one of these choirs; and if you don’t, but do visit cathedrals, do stay for Evensong and admire the dedication and prowess of any visiting choir you may encounter!
For more information see: http://www.normanharper.org.uk/ or contact the director of the Alleyn Choir, Norman Harper here: email@example.com