Funds raised by the Diamond Fund for Choristers have been committed to voice and/or instrument training at Aberdeen Cathedral, Beverley Minster, Bradford Cathedral, Carlisle Cathedral, Chelmsford Cathedral, Coventry Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral, Hexham Abbey, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, Newcastle Cathedral, Newport Cathedral, Peterborough Cathedral, Portsmouth Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral and Wells Cathedral. Coventry Cathedral’s voice training for new entrant choristers has been funded by an individual donor for a total of 7 years.
Case study: Coventry Cathedral
In summer 2016, the Diamond Fund awarded its first grant of £4,000 over three years to Coventry Cathedral with money to train new-entrant choristers provided by a small trust specialising in ethnic integration. Over a third of the Coventry Cathedral boy and girl choristers are from minority ethnic backgrounds. The trust understands that there can be no better environment in which barriers between different ethnic groups can be broken down than one where young people create music together without even thinking about their ethnic backgrounds. In 2019 the trust decided to renew the grant for a further four years.
Case Study: Newport Cathedral
At Newport Cathedral in Monmouth, where the Diamond Fund is helping finance instrument training, one chorister has won a place in the National Youth Choir of Wales and is now the youngest member of the choir; and a second appeared recently at the Royal Albert Hall during the Youth Proms.
The Diamond Fund for Choristers has raised funds for two outreach/recruitment projects, one at Bangor Cathedral, the other at Leicester Cathedral.
Case study: Bangor Cathedral
Bangor Cathedral has run a two-year chorister recruitment programme at schools situated on council estates in the city. The programme was designed to attract choristers from challenging socio-economic backgrounds and resulted in 11 new choristers being recruited to the cathedral choir. This project was initially funded for a year by a single donor, but repeated for another year, so pleased was the donor at the results.
Helping choristers in challenging financial circumstances
“Our son had been a chorister for 3 years when our circumstances changed considerably. The financial support we received from FCM was invaluable. It enabled our family to get through a difficult patch and our son to continue with the choir. Thank you.” (Parent of a former chorister.)
Thanks to the generosity of a single donor, the Fund is supporting a girl chorister at Lichfield Cathedral over 5 years. We are also contributing to the costs of transport of choristers to and from the cathedral at Guildford; and we have endowed a girl choristership at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich. With the assistance of a small family trust we have also funded a high quality workshop for 45 choristers from across the country.
“We need grant support more than ever because chorister parents are squeezed financially by the recession, and our own income has been badly hit too. The money helps in the most tangible way to preserve these opportunities for choristers, and for our musical tradition, for future generations.” [Chris Gray, Director of Music, Truro Cathedral]
Choristers representing 62 cathedrals and colleges across the nation came together to perform some of Britain’s most-loved choral music at the Diamond Fund for Choristers’ launch concert in April 2016, the first time choristers from so many different foundations had performed together. Aled Jones and Alexander Armstrong, both former choristers, spoke at the event.
St Paul's Concert Whole Choir
The concert drew attention to the astonishing wealth of talent there is in cathedral choirs, and what stands to be lost if a way cannot be found to relieve the financial pressures on them. Audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive. ”Fabulous”, “An absolute joy”, “Beautiful, thrilling and unforgettable”, audience members told us. The evening raised over £25,000 and was attended by representatives of Parliament, the City, and the music and media industries.
The second “Evening with the Cathedral Choristers of Britain” took place at Liverpool Cathedral on 13 June 2019.
CD ‘Jubilate – 500 years of Cathedral Music’
Following the launch concert, 50 cathedrals sent a chorister to join the St Paul’s Cathedral choir in recording four of the tracks on the CD ‘Jubilate – 500 years of Cathedral Music’. The album went straight to No 1 in the UK classical music charts in the last week of March 2017. You can see a short video about the CD here and you can purchase the album at http://decca.lnk.to/stpaulsID. Decca has kindly donated royalties from the recording to the Diamond Fund for Choristers.
Cycling for choristers
On a sparkling spring morning early in 2016, an enthusiastic team of 16 chorister parents from Westminster Abbey raised nearly £8,000 in sponsorship money for the Diamond Fund for Choristers. They cycled 26.5 miles from St George’s Chapel Windsor to Westminster Abbey, taking just two and a half hours, in order to raise money for, and awareness of, the Fund. The team plan to repeat the ride, this time from St Alban’s Cathedral to Westminster Abbey, on 18 May 2019.