Pancake Fun!

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Some of our choristers had a break from their lessons and duties yesterday to take part in a Shrove Tuesday pancake race, as part of a photoshoot with local media! We’ve been given access to some of the final photos and they are brilliant! Thankfully, the choristers involved were all expert flippers and there wasn't too much pancake to clear up from Vicars Close or the Cloisters!

With thanks to Jason Bryant.

Another New Chorister and a Premiere…

It's been quite the day at Wells Cathedral! This morning the Boy & Girl Choristers and Vicars Choral performed the premiere of Stuart Beer's new setting of the Mass. It was warmly received by the congregation and is a wonderful new addition to the repertoire. Congratulations to both the composer and the Choir on a superb first performance!

On top of this, we were again thrilled that another of our talented young choristers has completed her time as a probationer and was today installed as a full chorister.

Shannon is pictured here with the Head Girl Chorister, Erin, and Assistant Organist, Jeremy Cole, who conducted today's service. We offer the warmest of congratulations to Shannon and her family and look forward to hearing much more of her!


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Concert Postponed

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Concert Postponed

Unfortunately the harpist for tomorrow's performance of A Ceremony of Carols has been working away and is unable to get back to Wells because of the weather. It is with regret therefore that the concert has had to be postponed. The choristers have worked very hard on this wonderful work over the past few weeks and so we will announce a new date for their performance as soon as we can and hope you will forgive us if it is somewhat out of season!


On Saturday 2 February, the Feast of Candlemas, the choristers will be performing Benjamin Britten's magical A Ceremony of Carols at a FREE lunchtime concert at 1.05pm. The performance will take place in the beautiful candlelit space of the Lady Chapel in Wells Cathedral and there will be a retiring collection in aid of the Chorister Trust.

British composer Benjamin Britten wrote his cantata, A Ceremony of Carols, during World War II while he was crossing the Atlantic in 1942 aboard a cargo ship. Since then, the choral work has become a staple for choristers across the land during the Christmas season.

The cantata is made up of 11 movements: 10 with voice and one for solo harp. It was written originally for a three-part boys’ choir, with soloist and harp accompaniment. Some of the carols are in Latin; some are in Middle English based on poems from the 15th and 16th centuries.

As the threat of World War II loomed, Britten decided to leave England in 1939 with his personal and professional partner, tenor Peter Pears. They spent time in Canada and the United States before returning to England in 1942. While in the U.S., Britten composed several major works. His decision to go back home was prompted after reading a collection of poems by George Crabbe called The Borough. Published in 1810, this collection was set on the Suffolk coast where Britten was from.

Britten and Pears boarded the Swedish cargo ship Axel Johnson in March 1942 to return to England. The voyage was dangerous with Nazi submarines inhabiting the Atlantic but the composer completed two choral works during the crossing: Hymn to St. Cecilia and A Ceremony of Carols.

The musical sequence begins with the plainchant “Hodie Christus natus est,” sung in unison and unaccompanied as a processional. That is followed by several poems from the Middle Ages that Britten chose to tell the Christmas story: from the jubilant exultations of “Wolcume Yule”, to the pastoral solos of “That yongë child” and “Balulalow,” and the to the martial urgency of “This Little Babe's” expanding canon - whose vivid "holy war" between the infant and Satan must surely have been inspired by the real-life world war. Halfway through the cantata, the harp solo “Interlude” not only unifies the entire work by including themes from various movements but also displays the versatility of the harp. After the harp solo, the choir continues with the chilling “In freezing winter night,” the lighthearted “Spring Carol,” and the joyful “Deo Gracias.”

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Song Squad at Evensong

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The Cathedral Choir was once again joined for Evensong last night by the Cathedral's Youth Choir - the Wells Cathedral Song Squad! The children joined the choir with great gusto for the singing of the anthem, John Rutter's exquisite A Gaelic Blessing. Well done to them all! And we look forward to their next performance.

If your child is interested in joining the Song Squad, then CLICK HERE to visit the cathedral website for more information.

Promenade Concert in aid of WCCT

We are delighted that the Tallis Voices, conducted by Peter Leech, are again putting on a concert in aid of the Trust. The concert will be given as part of Wells Cathedral's series of Promenade Concerts. These take place throughout January when the nave has been cleared of all furniture, allowing the audience to wander through this wonderful medieval space.

The concert is at 7.00pm on Friday 18 January and is entitled Regina Coeli: Renaissance Music commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary. It promises to be a wonderful treat.

Tickets are £10 and are available from the Cathedral Shop Box Office (01749 672773) or by post from Dr C R Lovell, Green Farm Cottage, The Green, Farmborough, Bath, BA2 0BA (please enclose a stamped addressed envelope).

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Wells Angels Scheme Launched

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Over the past four days, our choristers have performed to well over 4,500 people over the course of two ‘Carols by Candlelight’ concerts and the two Cathedral Carol Services. Following tonight’s Midnight Eucharist and tomorrow’s Eucharist and Matins of Christmas Day services, the total number of people who have been touched by the choristers’ singing will number well over 6,000.

To help secure the future of our Choristers and Cathedral Choir, at the Candlelight Concerts we were excited to launch our new benefits programme for regular donors - Wells Angels!

Regular support is best. It helps the Trust to plan ahead and assist more children, to ensure that Wells Cathedral Choir will be singing at the Christmas services and those throughout the year for hundreds of years hence, and thus touching the lives of so many people.

Wells Angels are a special group of supporters who want to help choristers for the long-term. You become a Wells Angel by setting up a regular gift for as little as £10 a month and each donor tier comes with various unique and exciting benefits.

Please read more here or download a PDF brochure to discover more about the scheme as well as the range of donor levels and the angelic recognition that comes with each!

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Christmas at Wells Cathedral

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We’re approaching that wonderful festive time of year that is Christmas; certainly a highlight in the lives of all our choristers as they prepare to sing to thousands of people over the Christmas period. Details of all Cathedral music and services over this important period in the Church’s calendar can be found in the Music and Services List for December here.

Key Cathedral concerts and services are listed below.

Carols by Candlelight Concerts

Thursday 20 and Friday 21 December, 7.00pm

Wonderful feasts of seasonal music and readings sung by the Cathedral Choir in the nave of Wells Cathedral, lit by over 3500 candles. These extreme popular events are almost sold out but you might be lucky enough to get one of the few remaining seats by calling the Cathedral Box Office on 01749 672773.

Wells Cathedral Carol Services

Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 December, 6.00pm

Wells Cathedral’s carol services, previously named by Classic FM magazine as the ‘Top choice’ in the South West, take place on two days. Both services will start at 6.00pm. There will be plenty of congregational carols, as well as beautiful singing from the Cathedral Choir, and festive readings. There is no entry charge and it is suggested people may wish to arrive early as it is very popular. The doors open at 5.00pm. and we request that you are be seated by 5.40pm.

Eucharist of Christmas Night

Monday 24 December, 11.00pm

Midnight Mass sung by the Cathedral Choir. THIS SERVICE STARTS AT 11PM with Welcome at 10.55pm.

Tuesday 25 December (Christmas Day) services (the Cathedral is open until 1.00pm):

9.30am: Cathedral Eucharist
11.30am: Choral Matins

Cover Disc Special!

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The Cathedral Choir was specially selected to record music for this year’s Christmas cover CD for the December issue of BBC Music Magazine. The CD includes five previously recorded pieces, along with fourteen other works which were recorded by the choristers and Vicars Choral over two nights in early October. The December edition should be available in the shops from tomorrow (29 November). Be sure to get your copy!

Devotional Performance of Rutter's Requiem

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This Remembrance Sunday, the Cathedral Choir are singing in what will be a very special devotional performance of John Rutter's moving Requiem. The work not only sets the familiar texts from the Requiem Mass but also from the Book of Common Prayer, including a sublime setting of Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd) and also Psalm 130 (Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord). The Cathedral Choir are to be joined by the Wells Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra on this poignant occasion.

Rutter says of the work: “Requiem was written in 1985 and first performed in the United States. Following the precedent established by Brahms and Fauré, among others, it is not a complete setting of the Missa pro defunctis as laid down in Catholic liturgy, but instead is made up of a personal selection of texts, some taken from the Requiem Mass and some from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The seven sections of the work form an arch-like meditation on themes of life and death: the first and last movements are prayers to God the Father on behalf of all humanity, movements two and six are psalms, movements three and five are personal prayers to Christ, and the central Sanctus is an affirmation of divine glory, accompanied by bells as is traditional at this point in the Mass. Gregorian chant is used, in fragmentary or disguised form, at several points in the work. Each of the two psalm settings has an instrumental obbligato, a feature inherited from Bach.

“In style and scale, Requiem owes more to Fauré and Duruflé than to Berlioz, Verdi or Britten. It is intimate rather than grand, contemplative and lyric rather than dramatic, consolatory rather than grim, approachable rather than exclusive. I suppose that some will find the sense of comfort and consolation in it facile, but it was what I meant at the time I wrote it, in the shadow of a bereavement of my own.”

Sunday’s performance forms part of Wells Cathedral’s World War One Centenary Commemoration. Admission is free and there will be a retiring collection in aid of The Poppy Appeal and Wells Cathedral Music.