ECS was founded in the 12th century as a Choir School. To this day, we remain proud to educate the Choristers of Exeter Cathedral.
38 boys and girls (usually from Year 3 to Year 8) make up the Cathedral Choristers. They join forces with the Adults of the Choir (Lay Vicars and Choral Scholars) and sing around 8 services each week during term time, maintaining a musical and spiritual tradition that has been largely unbroken for centuries.
Choristers receive a Scholarship to attend the School, awarded by the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral, and receive the same broad and balanced education as all of our pupils. They access our full curriculum and all of the other enriching opportunities on offer: with the exception of some after-school clubs and some assemblies, our Choristers do not miss out on any part of school life. That said, we are of course mindful of their busy schedules, and our dedicated Chorister Tutor closely oversees the workload and wellbeing of the Choristers. Weekly wellbeing meetings take place between the School’s pastoral staff and the Cathedral music team.
As well as being fully involved in the life of the School, our Choristers are trained to a professional standard to sing alongside the adult members of the choir, benefitting from world-class musical coaching and unparalleled opportunities. Through their education at School and in the Choir Stalls, our Choristers develop habits and skills which will last them a life-time, as well as a thirst for high standards and a deep appreciation of the spirituality to be found in music, in silence, in collective worship, and in stillness.
All of the Choristers meet in School every day and are walked across to the Song Schools for their daily rehearsals (Wednesday is a day off). They join their classmates for the start of lesson 1, and take part in all of the activities and lessons of our normal school day. After a break at the end of school, the Choristers on duty gather together (boys and girls tend to alternate – allowing after-school clubs to be enjoyed on their ‘down days’), put on their gowns, and process to a rehearsal and Evensong in the Cathedral. Then it’s home time, and those who are boarders will return to School for supper, prep, activities, hot chocolate and bed.
During Choir Term (a busy and exciting few days over Christmas and Easter), the Choristers have the School to themselves, and enjoy trips out, activity days, movie nights, and – of course – lots of singing. We find that Father Christmas never forgets to visit the boarding house, and our Choristers continue the centuries-old tradition of waking up the Dean and the Director of Music on Christmas Morning by singing early-morning carols underneath their windows!
If you are interested in exploring Choristership for your son or daughter, ‘Be a Chorister for a Day’ events take place in November or December each year, followed by Voice Trial Days every January or February. The School is always happy to help arrange informal pre-audition assessments with the Cathedral’s Director of Music. Please contact our Registrar, Mrs Lucy Lewis, in the first instance, to find out more.
I left ECS in 2017.
Being a Cathedral Chorister was one of the best experiences of my life. It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to sing in the beautiful Cathedral.
My favourite part was the atmosphere you get when you walk into evensong and there are candles everywhere.
Doing a solo and hearing your own voice echoing around and everyone silent and listening is an experience I will never forget.
The feeling of being in the choir is such a family feel, that you could only feel at home with everyone. The teachers helped me progress with my singing ability.
Being a Chorister at Exeter Cathedral School has made me who I am and I would definitely do it again.
Hello there, my name is Ruan, and I was a chorister at Exeter cathedral for 4 years. I have had an absolutely amazing time at Exeter, and have learnt a lot of things. I have had an incredible experience. Being a chorister is such a great experience and is a once in a life time experience. As a chorister, you learn a lot of skills which can set you up for life, and you learn skills that not very many children will have. In the choir, you learn to work as a team, it feels like a family, and it is always a team effort. I will never forget my time as a chorister. It has been so amazing to me, and such a great experience.
Ruan, Boy Chorister 2013-17