There has probably been a choir singing in Bristol Cathedral since its days as an Augustinian abbey church, founded in 1140. When, in 1542, it became the cathedral church of the new diocese of Bristol, its new statutes still provided for cathedral life in terms of worship, community and education; of the praises of God sung with perpetual jubilation, of the common table, of the masters of the choristers and of the Cathedral Grammar School. The passing of the centuries has modified but not destroyed the pattern.
The choir consists of 28 choristers (14 boys and 14 girls), all of whom are educated at Bristol Cathedral Choir School which is the first government-funded Choir Academy in the country. It occupies not only the former Abbey buildings, but also some fine new buildings in College Square. The choristers are supported by choral incentives given by the Bristol Cathedral Choral Foundation. The main point of entry into the choir as a chorister is as a probationer chorister. The probationary choristers fulfil a part timetable and attend primary schools in the city. The Academy has music as its specialism, and so there is also provision for just two choristers to join at Year 7. Bristol Cathedral Choir also includes 6 Lay Clerks, and 4 Choral Scholars. Together, with the voluntary Girls' Choir, Choral Evensong is sung daily in the Cathedral in term time.
The Choir enjoys a busy and challenging timetable, and highlights have included singing at the Royal Maundy Service in the presence of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1999, tours to France, Italy, and the USA (New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). Click here to read about their most recent tour to Hanover. Recent events have included a performance of David Fanshawe's African Sanctus at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, with the Black Dyke Band, a new CD The Truth shall set you free, and an appearance together with the Choirs of Wells and Exeter Cathedrals in the Exeter Festival. The Choir also broadcasts regularly on Radio 3.