Recruitment and Retention
The Chancel Singers is a choir of approximately 30 members who, for 30 years, have regularly sung in cathedrals when their own choirs are on leave. We work hard to ensure that our standard is worthy of deputising for the regular choir and we are much respected for that effort by invitations to return and genuine compliments which are made regarding our competence.
Generally we undertake three or four engagements per year. This is sometimes a single evensong on a Saturday, or all the weekend services. Occasionally we sing at weddings and funerals and hold concerts to raise money for charity.
We are a friendly choir: we hold an annual social event and enjoy time spent together on our weekends away. At the beginning of each year we hold a business meeting where members are updated on financial and other aspects and are invited to comment on and discuss any matters.
Singers can join through a variety of routes. In the first instance those considering joining the choir should approach the Music Director who will discuss their experience and ability. If the applicant wishes to continue he or she is invited to sing with the choir for a probationary period, perhaps with the assistance of an existing choir member - a mentor. This probationary period is normally one event - a concert or weekend service including preparatory rehearsals. Because the size of the choir is limited sometimes there are no vacancies.
Following this is a review with the Music Director and the mentor who, in discussion with the applicant, can ascertain whether it is appropriate for that person to continue with the choir. Clearly if the applicant feels unwilling to continue, then this is accepted.
There are no formal auditions, although the Music Director might ask the applicant to sing a short item so that he can ascertain what type of voice the applicant has and how best to use him/her within the choir to promote and improve the excellence of the group.
Applicants for the choir:
The high standard which we aim to achieve means that we need experienced singers with good vocal ability who are able to blend their voices within the choir. An ability to sight read is clearly beneficial. To assist the learning process the choir makes available such tools as access to the John Fletcher Music website and recordings of the music to be performed.
Members are actively encouraged to learn the music before and between rehearsals as rehearsals are mainly for refinement rather than note learning. In order to perform to a high standard it is expected that the singers will aim to attend all rehearsals and events during the year. These are programmed at least a year in advance to limit the possibility of clashes, but we do recognise that sometimes this is not possible. If the Music Director feels a singer has attended an insufficient number of rehearsals, or is insufficiently familiar with the music programme, that person may be asked to take remedial action, or stand down from part or all of the event.
The Chancel Singers is predominantly an adult choir. However should someone under the age of 18 wish to join there is a safeguarding policy in place.
As we mainly sing in religious services the repertoire is standard church music (hymns, anthems, psalms, canticle and eucharist settings). Occasionally it will be necessary to rehearse secular music (normally standard classical repertoire) for concerts.
Members pay a subscription which is reviewable annually. This covers the costs of running the choir, including the organist's fees and expenses for weekends away, the rental for rehearsal space, and other costs such as music hire/purchase where necessary.
Cathedral visits are self-financed by individual choir members which will include travel and hotel bills when necessary.
When to join:
Any time but chiefly January and September (the beginning and end of the season) through contact with the Music Director or Secretary, details of which are available on the website:
Singers may hear about the choir from a variety of sources including:
Word-of-mouth from existing choir members
Details on concert programmes/tickets
Chancel Singers’ website
Choir listed on websites e.g. Setigerous, Choral Net, National Association of Choirs, Making Music
Continuing to sing with the choir:
Criteria, as set out under Applicants for the Choir for new applicants, are also applicable to existing choir members.
No on-going voice tests are held but if there are concerns about the quality of a singer’s performance then the Music Director would suggest an informal discussion to identify any problems and seek solutions, such as formal singing lessons (payable by the individual). If necessary a more formal audition might be held but it is hoped that a mutually amicable solution could be reached. Should this not be the case then the choir, through the Music Director, may ask the singer to leave. If appropriate, a part-subscription refund would be made.
From time to time the Music Director may ask singers to sing in small groups, or possibly on their own, to check for balance between and within vocal sections.