20th Anniversary of Guildford Cathedral Girls’ Choir

03rd February 2023

Guildford Cathedral’s Girl choristers past and present will come together this Saturday for a special Choral Evensong to mark their 20th anniversary and will begin the service with the first piece the girls ever sang together – ‘Ave Maria’ by Simon Lindley.

Guildford Cathedral Girls Choir celebrate 20th Anniversary with a special Evensong, Saturday 4th February.

The search had begun for ‘musical girls’ in 2002, and a group of twelve girls first formed in November of that year and began rehearsing together – it was the first time the Cathedral had given girl choristers opportunities to sing as part of the Cathedral choir and they performed their first service in March 2003.

Since that time hundreds of girls have taken part in this unique musical education first under the direction of Louise Marsh, then David Davies and latterly Katherine Dienes-Williams, supported by vocal coach Hilary Jones.

They have been at the centre of the Cathedral’s musical offering, singing at services of worship, weddings, funerals, memorial services, county services, diocesan services, singing at churches in the diocese, live broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, tours to France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, BBC Young chorister of the year, BBC Songs of Praise and as part of CD recordings and concerts both here at the Cathedral and elsewhere.

This academic year alone, the girls were represented by Ruby, former BBC 2s Young Chorister of The Year, who sang with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra alongside boy chorister Arthur in John Rutter’s Christmas Celebrations in the Royal Albert Hall.

In March they broadcast Choral Evensong live on BBC Radio 3 for International Women’s Day and all the girls will be singing alongside fellow girl choristers from the Cathedrals of Southwark and St Albans with the Bach Choir and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the Palm Sunday performance of the St. Matthew Passion at the Royal Festival Hall on 2 April.

Katherine Dienes-Williams, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Guildford Cathedral said:

“The girl choristers have, in twenty years, made a remarkable contribution to the life and worship of Guildford Cathedral, supported by their families.

“Their singing has reached far beyond the building itself, in churches throughout the Guildford diocese, at weddings, funerals, on choir tours to Italy, the Netherlands, France and Spain, live broadcasts for the BBC, BBC Songs of Praise, BBC Young chorister of the year and concerts in Guildford, particularly residential weekends at St. Catherine’s School, Bramley.

“We are so proud of them all and celebrate their achievements and the opportunities they have been afforded through their choristerships and beyond.

“And we celebrate our former choristers who are taking the legacy of their choristership forward into their daily studies and everyday lives, and welcome them all back to their spiritual and musical home.”

Everyone is welcome to the Choral Evensong at 5pm this Saturday 4 Feb.

If you are interested in contributing to the legacy of the choir through financial support, please contact Nicola Pratt, headofdevelopment@guildford-cathedral.org and find out how you can help.

Photo credit Marilyn Taylor.