ELY Cathedral Boys’ Choir has recently returned from an action-packed music tour of Estonia.
Seventeen of the choristers, who are all pupils at King’s Ely, took part in this year’s tour and to say their schedule was a busy one would be a slight understatement. The boys had five performances in venues across a number of cities, including Tallinn, Haapsalu and Parnu. The tour culminated in a spine-tingling concert at St Peter and St Paul’s Cathedral in Tallinn.
For many of the choristers, who are all aged 9-13, it was their first tour and despite the gruelling timetable of rehearsals and performances, they still managed to squeeze in plenty of sightseeing and downtime, including visits to a water park, the beach, local parks and the Seaplane Harbour Estonian Maritime Museum.
It was the choir’s first ever visit to Estonia; previous choir tours have included America, Canada, Spain, Norway and France, as well as special performances in Rome, Vienna and Budapest.
Director of Music at Ely Cathedral, Paul Trepte, who led the tour, said: “Tours of this sort are the stuff that memories are made of. The choir had a fabulous week singing in some impressive venues to appreciative audiences in Tallinn (three concerts), Haapsalu and Parnu. The musical highlight was their final concert at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Tallinn, attended by the Deputy British Ambassador. A fault on the organ in that church required some last minute changes to the programme which in turn demanded great flexibility and professionalism from all singers.”
Ely Cathedral Boys’ Choir has been part of the English Choral tradition since the mid-16th century and in terms of monastic heritage, its history can be traced back considerably further to before the time of King Canute, circa 990 AD.
Today, the choir consists of some 22 boy choristers and six adult lay clerks, augmented on Sundays and Feast Days by additional singers and sometimes instrumentalists. Alongside daily rehearsals and services, there is a demanding schedule of concerts, broadcasts and recordings.
The choir is much in demand for radio and television broadcasts, recordings, concerts and tours, and the boys have worked with many artists, orchestras and ensembles of national repute. Amongst them are James Bowman, Aled Jones, Jose Carreras, the Britten Sinfonia, the Orchestra of St John’s, Smith Square, the Brandenburg Consort and The City of London Sinfonia, to name just a few.