The amassed choir included at least 50 girls, both new and old, including several members from the original choir and eighteen current Girl Choristers. The girls sang together in the Cathedral Quire in a poignant and celebratory service.
Sophie Burford, one of the original Girl Choristers at Winchester Cathedral, said: “It’s rare for a 12 year old girl to have such a life changing experience at such a young age. The choir changed my life both in the present and for the future. We shared laughter and tears together and I feel this helped shape us into the women we are.”
The Girls’ Choir was founded in 1999 by Sarah Baldock, despite opposition from some campaigners including the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir. By 1999, almost one third of cathedrals in Britain had opened up their choir stalls but Winchester Cathedral Choir, which had been established for more than 900 years, was perhaps the most high-profile choir to change.
The girls have since toured Europe on several occasions and recorded CDs, both with the boy choristers and on their own. The Girls’ Choir is now under the joint leadership of the Director of Music, Andrew Lumsden, and the Assistant Director of Music, George Castle.
Andrew Lumsden, Director of Music at Winchester Cathedral, said: “The Girl Choristers are held in great esteem not only by our congregation and visitors but, through broadcasts and recordings, throughout the world. They have become a vital and lively part of our mission and ministry”.
The current Girl Choristers, aged 12 – 17, all attend local schools, rehearse three times a week and sing at least one service a week during term-time. Girls can audition from the age of 11 and applications can be made throughout the year. For more information, contact the Choirs’ Administrator on 01962 857219.
Click below to listen to one of the original Girl Choristers Sophie Burford in conversation with Premier’s Correspondent Ian Britton