The Director of the Girl Choristers is Sarah MacDonald, who is also Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Girl choristers may be day pupils, flexi-boarders, or full boarders in one of two houses: Year 4-8 in Priory House, whose Housemistress is Clare Gorick, and Year 9-11 in Etheldreda House, where Housemistress, Melanie Hughes and Matron, Melanie Moss are in charge.
Life as a Girl Chorister
The morning routine begins with breakfast (for boarders) followed by an hour’s rehearsal in the Undercroft in Etheldreda House (non-boarders are asked to arrive in the house by 07:45 at the latest). The girls then head off to a full day of school. On Mondays and Wednesdays, they return to Etheldreda House for a snack, rehearsal and Evensong, after which the boarders have supper and homework (called “prep” at King’s Ely) before lights out. Non-boarders go home after Evensong which ends by about 6:20pm, leaving plenty of time for supper and prep at home. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the sung services at the Cathedral are shared between the boy and girl choristers, and we ensure that choristers get plenty of downtime, as well as time for academic work.
Throughout their time as choristers, there is constant communication between the music staff, the house staff and the school’s academic staff in order to ensure that the girls’ time is being managed effectively and sensibly. The girls’ welfare is of primary importance to all.
How Choristership Works
There are usually between 18 and 20 girl choristers. Girls audition for a place from Year 3 for entry into the choir from Year 4. They enter the cathedral choir at the beginning of Year 4, and leave the choir at the end of Year 8 prior to their move into the Senior School. Occasionally, girls can join the choir in the intervening years, when vacancies arise. However, by 2025 it is likely that entry into the cathedral choir will only be available to girls in Year 6 and below. Only in exceptional circumstances – transferring from another cathedral choir for example, will girls in Year 7 be considered for a place.
From September 2021, girls receive 40% off the day fees; singing and theory lessons are provided free of charge. Means-tested bursaries are available in cases of parental need, and we aim to ensure that no gifted children are denied this life-changing opportunity purely due to financial limitations. If parents choose for their children to board, or to flexi-board, they will be responsible for the payment of all boarding charges in full (unless they are in receipt of a school bursary).
For further details, please contact the Director of the Girl Choristers:
Sarah MacDonald (SarahMacDonald@kingsely.org).