Rochester Cathedral is the Mother Church of the second most ancient diocese in England, and has resounded to the singing of God's praises since AD 604, when St Augustine appointed Justus to be the first Bishop.
From its earliest times, Rochester appears to have been famous for the training of singers. In his Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book IV Bede writes of Bishop Putta, enthroned as Bishop of Rochester in 669 that:
"He was extraordinarily skilful in the Roman style of church music, which he had learned from the disciples of the holy Pope Gregory".
Bede goes on to say that:
"From that time also they began in all the churches of the English to learn sacred music, which till then had been only known in Kent".
The Cathedral Choir at Rochester can therefore claim to be the heir to a very ancient tradition as it maintains the round of daily worship.
The Cathedral Choir is made up of three parts: Boy Choristers, Girl Choristers and the Lay Clerks.
- The boys sing the majority of the Cathedral's choral services during term and are all educated at King's Rochester Preparatory School.
- The Girls' Choir was founded in 1995 and was one of the first girls' choirs to be introduced in an English Cathedral. The girls attend a variety of local and county schools, including King's School and sing regularly in the weekly schedule.
- The Lay Clerks provide the alto, tenor and bass parts to the chorister treble line and are professional singers drawn from throughout Medway, Kent and even further afield. They include three choral scholars who are a recent addition to the music foundation of the Cathedral.
For the weekly round of eight choral services, the boys or the girls sing with six Lay Clerks; however, sometimes, for great Cathedral occasions, all three parts of the choir come together.
Rochester Cathedral Choir is frequently seen on television and heard on radio and has a formidable list of CD recordings to its name. The Choir is also well travelled, with tours in recent years taking them to the United States, Malta, Germany and Budapest.
For further information, and for details about joining the choir, please click here.
The Cathedral Voluntary Choir was formed in August 2008, but there has been an auditioned adult voluntary choir for quite some considerable time.
The choir consists of a pool of 30 or so experienced adult singers in the Medway / Maidstone area and from further afield. The Cathedral Voluntary Choir normally sings all the four choral services (Saturday Evensong and Sunday Mattins, Eucharist and Evensong) on 8-10 weekends each year, usually during holiday periods, plus a Eucharist on the evenings of Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Ascension Day. The Choir is directed by Douglas Henn-Macrae who has a long involvement with music making at Rochester Cathedral.
For further information please visit the Voluntary Choir website: www.gundulf.org.uk.