The Director of the Girl Choristers is Sarah MacDonald, who is also Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge; the Assistant Organist is Aaron Shilson. The girls board in two houses: Year 7-8 in Priory House, whose Housemistress Clare Gorick, and Year 9-11 in Etheldreda House, where Housemistress Rebecca Sparks and Matron (Melanie Moss) are in charge. All of the girl choristers are very attached to Oliver, Etheldreda House’s friendly cat, who often pops in to morning rehearsals to make sure that they are paying attention.
Life as a Girl Chorister
The morning routine begins with breakfast and an hour’s rehearsal in the Undercroft in Etheldreda House. The girls then head off to a full day of school. Two days a week they return to Etheldreda House for a snack, rehearsal and Evensong, followed by supper and homework (called “prep” at King’s Ely) before lights out. The girls are on cathedral duty for one or two weekends each month (usually involving two or three services on Saturday and Sunday). As they progress in the Senior School, we take care to balance the girls’ academic commitments with their choristership (for example, Year 11 girls are given a complete break from singing and cathedral duties throughout the GCSE examination period). There is constant communication between the music staff, the house staff and the school’s academic staff, and the girls’ welfare is of primary importance to all.
How Choristership Works
There are funded places for 18 girl choristers, with some supernumerary (unfunded) places in addition. Girls audition for a place during Year 6. They enter the cathedral choir at the beginning of year 7, and leave the choir at the end of Year 11. Occasionally, girls can join the choir in other years, when vacancies arise. The girls receive 33% off the boarding fees; singing and theory lessons are also 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.
For further details, please contact the Director of the Girl Choristers:
Sarah MacDonald (SarahMacDonald@kingsely.org).