This Easter Sunday – 31 March 2024 – will see the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral broadcast three live services across the BBC.

Director of Music David Newsholme will lead the full Choir in three live services across the BBC. BBC Radio 4 will broadcast the service of Eucharist at 8.10am, with BBC One TV broadcasting the Cathedral’s 10am Eucharist. Both services will be led by The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The afternoon will then see the Choir broadcast Solemn Evensong at 3pm on BBC Radio 3. This service will feature works by Charles Villiers Stanford to mark the composer’s centenary year.

This impressive series of live broadcasts follows a remarkable start to the year for the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral. In January the Girl Choristers celebrated their 10th anniversary and marked the occasion with the world premiere performance of a new anthem by composer and former Canterbury Chorister, Gabriel Jackson. The Girl Choristers also enjoyed acclaim for their recording of Johann Christoph Pepusch’s Chandos Anthems including an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award in the January issue of Gramophone magazine and securing a place on the long list for the prestigious Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

February saw an opportunity for some of the Choristers to take part in a session of the Genesis Sixteen course held at the Cathedral Lodge. Genesis Sixteen is The Sixteen’s free young artists’ programme for 18- to 23-year-olds, which aims to nurture the next generation of talented ensemble singers. The session enjoyed by members of Canterbury Cathedral Choir was led by Harry Christophers, founder of The Sixteen and Associate Conductor Eamonn Dougan.

September 2023 saw the appointment of Helen Brookes as the Cathedral’s Singing Partnerships Lead, a role that has developed in the first quarter of 2024. Established to develop and implement the Cathedral’s strategy for engagement through music in the wider community, Brookes has developed partnerships with local schools, and with other local and national musically focussed institutions, to collaboratively design and deliver opportunities for high-quality musical engagement with a wide range of people, particularly children, from all backgrounds. Since joining the Cathedral in September Helen has worked with 22 local primary schools providing musical enrichment opportunities to over 500 children and support to 27 music teachers and leaders. Highlights have included:  a Christmas family celebration which comprised bespoke choral workshops across the community in preparation for joining the massed choir, led by Helen, in the Cathedral on 10th December; leading six organ and choir workshops over three days, as part of the Cathedral Schools Visits Days; collaborating with four local primary schools with the aim of developing long-standing working partnerships; implementing a structured musicianship programme to provide strong  musical foundations for the Cathedral’s pre-probationers and probationers; liaising with Kent MusicGabrieli Consort and The Sixteen as well as local musicians to plan and develop future musical opportunities for children and young people.

David Newsholme, Director of Music at Canterbury Cathedral, said: ‘At Canterbury Cathedral, we are committed to providing the best opportunities for our Choristers and we have been busy ensuring that those opportunities are delivered through broadcasts, recordings, and workshops. We also take great pride in the role music has within its community and the transformative power it holds. The work Helen Brookes has begun as Singing Partnerships Lead is helping children across the area benefit from the life-changing experience that music offers and gives them a vital window and pathway into life as a chorister that they might not have had access to in the past. The work we continue to do ensures that music-making in our cathedral will evolve and flourish, ensuring the continuation of the Choir for generations to come. We look forward to the rest of the year and our continued commitment to ensuring the integral role music plays in the life of Canterbury Cathedral and its wider community.’