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WATCH: Cathedral choristers from across UK record lockdown charity track

by Press Association

Choristers from across the UK have united to record a lockdown version, introduced by Alexander Armstrong, of the song Sing Forever to raise funds for struggling choirs while singing is banned in cathedrals.

A total of 269 vocalists from 44 cathedrals and choral foundations, filmed their individual vocal parts from their bedrooms and living rooms.

The recordings were emailed to Norwich Cathedral, where the project was co-ordinated, and edited into a single video.

It aims to support the Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund appeal, which is being run by charities Friends of Cathedral Music and Ouseley Church Music Trust.


Ashley Grote, Master of Music at Norwich Cathedral, said one of the clergy at the cathedral suggested the idea for a fundraising song involving choristers across the country.

Songs Of Praise theme tune composer Robert Prizeman gave permission for the project to use a new arrangement of his piece Sing Forever.

Mr Grote, who arranged the piece, said choristers were given a score and backing track and asked to sing their parts at home.

“It’s probably the largest group of choristers that have ever sung together in this country,” he said.

The first verse is a duet sung by the current two BBC Young Choristers Of The Year, Anna Haestrup and William Miles-Kingston, Mr Grote said.

Former chorister Aled Jones and international opera star Elizabeth Watts sing the second verse, before choristers across the nation come in for verses three and four.

“It’s an amazing sound actually of them all together,” said Mr Grote.

“They’re all recorded on iPhones, on tablets, just in their own homes, in their own living rooms.

“It’s not the same as having the glorious acoustic of all of our wonderful cathedrals, but I think people will find this very moving actually when you hear all of these voices entering into singing together.

“There’s something very moving about them all being geographically separate but then singing together with one voice.

“I think that’s a very powerful message that comes out of the lockdown for all musicians really.

“There’s been this amazing sense of keeping music alive against all the odds.”

Singing is currently not allowed in public worship due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Mr Grote said self-funding cathedrals face difficulties in maintaining a professional choir.

“Particularly for those cathedrals whose income is derived first and foremost from tourism this is a particularly difficult time,” he said.

“Budgets are very tight and choirs are unable to sing.

“Currently, all of our adult singers are on furlough and have been since March.

“Until there’s a prospect of them singing again which we’re not currently allowed to do, they will stay on the furlough scheme and we’re just hoping and praying that by the time we get to the autumn we’re able to sing again and get those people back into work.”

Costs include salaried adult professional singers, known as lay clerks, directors and organists.

Young choristers usually receive a scholarship in recognition of their commitment and pastoral staff are employed to look after them.

The Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund appeal has a target of £1 million and has raised more than £800,000 to date.

Cathedral Choirs Sing Forever aims to raise £10,000 towards the total.

Friends of Cathedral music chairman Peter Allwood said that Sing Forever “sums up perfectly how choristers and choir directors feel at the moment”.

Presenter of TV show Pointless Alexander Armstrong, a former chorister at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, said: “Britain has a great reputation throughout the world for the quality of its choral singing, and much of this stems from the fabulous education and vocal training received by choristers who are singing day by day in our great cathedrals and chapels.

“We don’t want our children to lose this opportunity so I hope those that enjoy this song will contribute generously to the Emergency Fund.”

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