Common Time 2019

Winchester College

Chapel Choir and The Quiristers

Chapel Choir
When William of Wykeham founded Winchester College in 1382 he made provision for 16 boys called Quiristers to sing the Chapel services. The school has maintained its mediaeval choral foundation for more than 600 years and today this lies at the heart of a flourishing choral tradition, noted for its excellence and diversity.

Chapel Choir sings a full range of choral services in the College Chapel, the treble line being provided by the Quiristers, who are educated at The Pilgrims School; the lower parts in the Choir are sung by senior boys, many of whom have themselves been Quiristers, or choristers at cathedrals and other choral foundations.

The Quiristers also sing as a boys' choir in their own right and give regular concerts for local charities as well as broadcasts for radio and television. These have included Britten's A Ceremony of Carols for BBC Radio 4. Chapel Choir sings regularly on the BBC Radio 3 ‘Choral Evensong' programme and have been invited to sing for a special Classic FM Christmas concert. Other recent concerts have included John Rutter's 70th birthday concert in London, and Bach's St. John Passion at St. John's, Smith Square with the Academy of Ancient Music.

The choir tours internationally and in recent years has visited Russia, Italy, Holland, France and the USA. The choir's commercial recordings have received enthusiastic critical acclaim. Over the past few years, Quiristers have regularly won places in the final of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition and have won that competition on three occasions.

At the heart of the choir's work (and at the heart of College life) are the regular services in the College Chapel, which keep the choir focussed on their daily liturgical duty and develop their skills as singers and musicians. Our Chapel Choir boys regularly gain choral awards at both Cambridge and Oxford, and recently boys have won organ scholarships at Oxbridge Colleges, notably King's, Cambridge and New College, Oxford.

Our term time services are all open to the public:

• Tuesday (Chapel) 5.30pm Choral Evensong
• Thursday (Chapel) 5.30pm Sung Eucharist
• Saturday (Chantry) 7.15pm Compline
• Sunday (Chapel) 10.30am Choral Eucharist or Mattins

Auditions for Quiristers
The Quiristers gain all the benefits that Cathedral Choristers would receive, except that they can be at home with their families at Christmas and Easter. Each Quirister receives a bursary from the College for their singing, and they all learn two musical instruments. Music practice is timetabled and supervised, and most Quiristers go on to music awards at a range of senior schools, many to Winchester College.

Boys who become Quiristers receive a Bursary worth 40 per cent of the full boarding fee at The Pilgrims School. They receive a first class academic and musical training and opportunities to take part in full range of sporting opportunities within the school, including school teams. Their musical training helps to nurture confidence, teamwork and a sense of pride in achieving exceptional standards of performance.

Quiristers can start in years 4, 5 or 6, and we encourage parents and candidates to contact the Pilgrims School early to arrange an informal assessment.

In the singing auditions, candidates will be asked to do the following:

1. Sing a short solo of their own choice (this could be a hymn or carol)
2. Some scales to assess the range of the voice
3. Sing back single notes when played on the piano
4. Sing back the upper or lower notes of two when played on the piano
5. Sing back the upper middle or lower notes of three when played on the piano
6. Sing back a short melody when played on the piano
7. Clap a simple rhythm when played on the piano
8. Candidates may also be asked to read aloud

The Director of Chapel Music, Mr Howard Ionascu, is always happy to hear boys informally prior to audition to give guidance to parents regarding the suitability of their son as a Quirister.

For further information about Quiristerships, please contact:

Mrs Ali Dugdale (Admissions Registrar)
The Pilgrims' School
The Close
Winchester SO23 9LT
01962 854189