Support for choristers
FCM has been helping to fund the work of choristers at cathedrals (and equivalent institutions) for the last 60 years as part of its support for cathedral music as a whole. Grants to help fund choristers – approximately £150,000 in 2016 alone – can be found among the total of almost £4 million grants listed Read more……
“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]
Chorister families suffering financial difficulties isn’t just a relatively recent phenomenon but it has become an increasing concern, testifying to the severity of the recession following the financial crisis in 2007/8. Since 2012 FCM has provided support totalling over £80,000 to chorister families to help them cope with their difficulties, prevent disruption of the cathedral choirs in which their children sing, and enable the individual choristers affected to continue their education and the performance of their duties.
“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 small trust, the Diamond Fund has recently made an award to Bangor Cathedral to help fund an outreach project. Bangor Cathedral is running a chorister recruitment programme at two council estate schools in the city designed to attract choristers from challenging socio-economic backgrounds.
The Diamond Fund opened for business in January 2016. Already we have raised enough money to fund a series of small projects for cathedral choirs across the country. Dialogue with cathedrals’ directors of music will help guide decisions on which projects to fund. Watch this space to find out where young choristers will be benefiting from your generosity.
Training new choristers at Coventry Cathedral
In summer 2016, the Diamond Fund awarded its first grant of £4,000 over three years to Coventry Cathedral. The grant, funded by a small family trust, covers the costs of one training session per week with a professional voice coach for three years for the 10 new choristers who join the choir every year. These sessions not only help choristers acquire accomplished vocal skills, they also help integrate choir members from different minority ethnic backgrounds into the choir and by extension into British society. Over a third of the Coventry Cathedral boy and girl choristers are from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Cathedral choirs are a calm and focused environment where barriers between different ethnic groups can be broken, and where children can learn skills which will be of enormous benefit to them in later life –organisation, application, commitment and a recognition that hard work brings rewards, both tangible and intangible.
DFC launch concert
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.
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. Each of these has signalled interest in the Diamond Fund’s work and in supporting the Fund’s development.
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. We hope this kind of initiative will be repeated around the land.
Please donate today.