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Canterbury Cathedral choir in history books

Members of the Canterbury Cathedral Girls Choir sing in their first ever performance during Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral

Members of the Canterbury Cathedral Girls Choir sing in their first ever performance during Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral

History has been made as the first Canterbury Cathedral all-girls’ choir gave their first public performance after more than 1,000 years of male-dominated singing.

Sixteen local girls aged between 12 and 16 were selected for the Canterbury Cathedral Girls’ Choir, the first to be assembled under the name of the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

They met, rehearsed and tried on cathedral cassocks for the first time earlier this month, and made their public debut at Evensong on Saturday night.

The service included music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Dyson and Samuel Sebastian Wesley, a cathedral spokesman said.

Choir director David Newsholme, also assistant organist, said: “It is always good to create new ways of making music and this will be an exciting new chapter in the cathedral’s story.”

Being a chorister at the cathedral has historically been an exclusively male preserve but leaders have said introducing a girls’ choir would be an “exciting addition”.

The cathedral has a long tradition of choral music and some notable musicians have distinguished themselves there over the years, including Harry Christophers, Trevor Pinnock and Sir Mark Elder.

Senior figures at the cathedral said the girls’ choir would add to the cathedral’s historic choral tradition but exist as a separate entity to the boys.

The girls will initially sing at services when the boy choristers, who are boarders at St Edmund’s School, are on their twice-termly breaks.

However, the girls, who rehearse every Wednesday, are expected to be given further opportunities to sing in cathedral services and elsewhere in the future.

The 16 girls in the choir are: Megan Bithel-Vaughan, Poppy Braddy, Chloe Chawner, Abby Cox, Olivia Earl, Elizabeth Green, Ffion Green, Saskia Jamieson-Bibb, Rebekah Kennett, Laura Nicholson, Beatrice Ninham, Polly Preston, Holly Smith, Ellen Spurling, Molly Swatman and Lauren Weir.

Saskia said: “We will prove ourselves as girl choristers – the first time that a girls’ choir has sung in the cathedral.

“There will be a lot of pressure probably, but it is a wonderful opportunity.”

 

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