The school has maintained this same choral foundation for more than 600 years and the Quiristers, or Qs as they are usually known, form a vital part of Winchester College’s Chapel Choir, led by Director of Chapel Music, Howard Ionascu. The lower parts of the Chapel Choir are sung by senior boys from the school, some of whom have themselves been Qs.
A Quirister’s routine is more varied than that of most choristers. The pattern of worship in the Chapel involves regular choral services, in which the choir performs a great range of church music. However, Choral Evensong is not sung every day, so the Quiristers also have time to sing a wide secular repertoire.
The Quiristers perform regularly in the UK and have a busy recording schedule. Recent recordings include Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols on BBC Radio 4, Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3, and Classic FM’s annual Christmas concert. In 2020, the Chapel Choir released a Christmas CD, A Winter's Night, (Signum Records). Quiristers have enjoyed success as finalists of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition, winning on three recent occasions.
Tours are one of the highlights of the Quirister calendar and in recent years the choir has visited Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Italy, Holland, France and the USA.
Quiristers are weekly or full boarders at The Pilgrims’ School, a thriving boys-only prep school located next to Winchester College. They receive a scholarship worth 40 per cent of the school’s full boarding fee, with additional means-tested bursaries available, as well as free instrumental tuition and vocal training. Instrumental practice takes place in the College's Music School. Most Quiristers will achieve a senior school music award.
In addition to a first class academic education at Pilgrims’, the Quiristers regularly play competitive sport and enjoy the wider co-curricular offering of the prep school.
Boys usually become Quiristers in Year 5 and remain in the choir for four years. Occasionally, there may be an opportunity to enter the choir in other year groups. Formal auditions are usually held in March, but an informal pre-audition can be arranged at any time during the year, usually when a boy is in Year 3 or Year 4. This provides an opportunity for boys and parents to ask any questions and seek advice about next steps. No special preparation is needed.
To find out more about the Quiristers or if you have any questions, contact Benjamin Cunningham, Assistant Director of Chapel Music.
16th October 2020
'A Winter's Night' is a wonderful collection of Christmas classics and choral music from Winchester's Chapel Choir. Released on Signum records on 16 October 2020.
1st June 2020
Two brothers write of their experiences of lockdown together, with one studying for exams, and the other continuing his singing, remotely.
31st May 2020
Quiristers have been singing at Winchester College since 1394. The current situation could not be allowed to disrupt that tradition. Therefore online rehearsals and recording individual voices remotely have become the new ways of keeping the sound of Chapel Choir with us.
17th January 2020
This January Chapel Choir recorded a new album at Merton College Chapel, Oxford. 'A Winter's Night' will be available to purchase later in the year.