The recurrent grant will give four outstanding early-career singers the chance to develop their musical talents and career ambitions, while enriching the musical life of the cathedral by singing at services and events as part of the Canterbury Cathedral Choir.
The Choral Scholars will also undertake outreach work with the many communities that Canterbury serves, and build on a number of the music department’s engagement projects. This includes the recent workshops for local schools, held in partnership with Glyndebourne and The Marlowe Theatre, which culminated in an informal performance in the Cathedral Quire.
As part of their outreach work, The Scholars will work with Adrian Bawtree, Acting Assistant Organist at Canterbury Cathedral, to further develop ‘FRIENDly Singing’ - The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral’s free, monthly singing meet for older people and their carers.
With ever-growing research demonstrating that group participatory singing benefits mental and physical health, this simple community activity has proven to help reduce the feeling of social isolation, particularly in lockdown when many care homes welcomed the online sessions. The scholars will explore training opportunities for music leaders to develop this activity in their own church and develop further links with the NHS, and other organisations.
Other projects will include evolving the St Nicholas Day service to include greater musical participation from local school choirs and bands, continuing The cathedral’s participation with Royal Society of Church Music’s Come and Sing Evensong, and bringing to fruition their own ideas around supporting communities through musical engagement.
The Reverend Max Kramer, Precentor at Canterbury Cathedral, said: “These pilot projects have established the keen appetite there is in the local community for involvement in music-making at the Cathedral. We are proud that they have given local children and adults the opportunity not only to receive, but also to lead our worship and to feel ownership of the cathedral’s liturgical life.
“The new team of Choral Scholars will help us take these projects forward into sustainable and regular musical engagement work, which sparkles with possibility for what might be achieved in the years to come.”
Jeremy Noles, Head of Grants and Relationships at Benefact Trust, said: “We’re proud that, for the first time in history, Canterbury Cathedral has been able to welcome a group of Choral Scholars with the support of our recurrent grant. Not only will this enable the singers to gain valuable experience, but it will open up amazing outreach opportunities for the cathedral to engage with the wider community.”