Music to their ears as Dales choristers sing at St Paul's

Choristers from an independent school in the Yorkshire Dales have joined a musical elite by being invited to sing at St Paul's and several more of the country's grandest cathedrals.

Schola Cantorum in St Pauls Cathedral
Schola Cantorum in St Pauls Cathedral

The Schola Cantorum group at Giggleswick School has performed at a professional level in Liverpool, Gloucester, Durham and London over the last year, on a circuit usually the preserve of university and college choirs.

Margie Simper, the school’s head of music said: “Independent schools will often have a chapel choir, but they don’t tend to tour.

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“It is actually quite rare for a school choir from the North to sing in the large, important tourist attractions like St Paul’s. They are taking the place of the professional cathedral choir on the choir’s day off so it is performing at the highest standard.”

But she said the choristers were not intimidated by the surroundings, having rehearsed in the school’s own domed chapel and its 288-seat, professional-standard theatre bequeathed by the late Richard Whiteley, who studied there under its former English teacher, fellow TV presenter Russell Harty.

Ms Simper, herself a professional singer, said: “When we sang in St Paul’s the pupils just saw it as a bigger version of our chapel.”

She added: “Following our positive welcome at St Paul’s, I have ambitions and next year we are applying to sing at Westminster Abbey.”

She said performance skills were important in building confidence in young people, especially among male choristers who faced an unsettling time as their voices broke – adding, “Of course, we welcome girl choristers too.”

Giggleswick’s head teacher Mark Turnbull said it was “an honour” for the choir to perform in some of the country’s greatest cathedrals. “We are very proud of our singers and the wider music department,” he said.

The school’s Richard Whiteley Theatre will host a Young Musician of the Year event later this month.