Auditions for Salisbury Cathedral choir set for this month: How to apply

NEW voices are being sought to take the Salisbury Cathedral Choir into the new year.

After a successful 2023, which included a number of sold-out concerts and Christmas services attended by thousands, the cathedral music team is now turning attention to the new year and chorister recruitment.

The task of selecting young candidates to take the choir forward begins in earnest on Saturday, January 20, when the cathedral will hold voice trials for girls, followed by trials for boys on Saturday, January 27.

Voice trials, or auditions, are a way for David Halls, director of music at the cathedral, to get to know and hear each individual child sing, testing their natural musicality.

To start with, each candidate is asked to sing a song of their own choice.

David said: “The song doesn’t need to be complicated, just something that has been sung at school, with friends or at church.

“A hymn or a carol will do – or a popular song. The important thing is that the youngster enjoys singing it and feels confident doing so.”

There are aural tests as well, such as clapping back a rhythm, picking notes out of a simple chord and singing back a melody played on the piano.

The music team runs the auditions in a relaxed environment because they are looking for potential talent rather than seasoned performers, and they want to get to know each child as an individual. Being enthusiastic and keen to be part of the team are as important as the singing, David added.

“I always tell children that being member of the choir is like being on a sports team,” he said. “You train together, you perform together, and you get together in the ‘club’ room – or school and Cathedral in this case. It’s a group effort, it can be hard work, but it is great fun.”

Any child offered a place in the choir receives a bursary and a place at the Cathedral School, and both the school and cathedral work to ensure no child is prevented from taking up a place in the choir because of lack of funding.

Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Picture: Max Willcock

Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Picture: Max Willcock

Susie Lamb’s children sang with the choir and, as the director of music at the Cathedral School, she is well aware of the opportunities offered by the unique combination of choir and school.

“The musical education offered here and as part of the cathedral choir, is second to none,” she said. “We have a wide range of instrumental as well as vocal specialists, and of course David and his team are experts in their field.

“Singing with a choir develops a lot of other skills too – organisation, concentration and the ability to collaborate. “Choristers learn very quickly not to be afraid to stand up and sing confidently in front of a congregation of up to 1,700 people. That is quite something.”

To find out more about the voice trials, or to request an application form, contact Catherine Mitchell by email to

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Meanwhile, the next big musical date at the cathedral is the Epiphany Devotion on January 21, which will see the full Cathedral Choir sing Parts 5 and 6 of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

Inkeeping with the Baroque period – during which this wonderful piece of choral music was written – the choir will be accompanied by period instruments.

Anna Macham, Canon Precentor, who is responsible for music and liturgy at the Cathedral, said: “The Epiphany Devotion tells the age old of story the Magi, travelling to worship the infant Jesus.

“This service completes the Christmas story for us. It is a very moving service, rich in music and language, interspersed with devotional addresses – and of course, the Bach is such fitting music for the time of year and this ancient building.”

The Epiphany Devotion takes place on Sunday, January 21 at 5pm, at Salisbury Cathedral.

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