Assistant Organist & Director of the Parish Choir
The Cathedral maintains a traditional choir consisting of up to twenty choristers and twelve gentlemen, made up of lay clerks and choral scholars. The Choir is directed by the Organist & Master of the Choristers, Richard Moorhouse.
The Choir plays a vital role in the pattern of daily worship within the Cathedral and sings six choral services every week during term time and at the major festivals of Christmas and Easter. The Choir has a large repertoire covering music from plainsong to the present day.
The Choir plays an important role in the life of the Diocese and City singing at Ordination, Confirmation, Civic and Remembrance services. The Choir also works regularly with the Cathedrals ensemble in residence Symphonic Brass, a professional ensemble based at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
The Choir tours regularly abroad with recent tours to Vienna (2011) where it sang Mass at Stephansdom and a Mass and concert at Peterskirche; North Italy (2009) where they sang Mass in St Mark’s Basilica, Venice and Duomo, Verona; Paris (2007) where they sang Mass to over 3,000 people in Notre-Dame Cathédrale.
Biennial Tour to Paris - July 2013
In July, Llandaff Cathedral Choir undertook its biennial tour, this year to Paris. Their first day comprised of a visit to the British Ambassadorial Residence in the Embassy quarter of the French capital. The choristers met the British Ambassador and were treated to a personal tour of the residence and gardens. The invitation for this visit came courtesy of an introductory letter from the Archbishop of Wales for which the choir was very thankful.
That afternoon the choir performed a concert in the majestic setting of the church of La Madeleine. Their performance matched the architectural and acoustical magic of this famous church. It is estimated that up to 750 people attended the concert.
The choirs’ second performance was to sing at High Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral on Sunday 14th July, Bastille Day. The choir had sung here previously in 2007 and the priest in charge on that occasion had been so impressed with the choir that he had personally invited them to return. The experience of singing Mass in one of the world’s most famous Cathedrals, to a capacity congregation (and all the tourists!) is one the choir will never forget.
Richard Moorhouse, the Cathedral Organist and Master of the Choristers, is extremely grateful to the Llandaff Cathedral Choir Association for their tireless fundraising towards this tour to Paris.
In October the choir will attend the Young Cathedral Voices festival in our twinned Cathedral of Uppsala, Sweden. We hope that details of this will follow in a future issue.
Each year the Cathedral looks to offer choristerships to four boys aged between 8-9. All our choristers attend The Cathedral School, Llandaff and as such receive an excellent academic education there, in addition to the first-class musical training from the Cathedral’s staff.
Potential Choristers do not need any prior experience to audition for the Choir. We are looking for children who enjoy singing, being part of a close-knit team and who, with their parents, will commit to a demanding but immensely rewarding schedule.
The Choristers, selected at voice trials are awarded scholarships at The Cathedral School which cover two thirds of the School fees.
The Llandaff Cathedral Choir Association (LCCA) is an enthusiastic group made up of parents of the Cathedral Choristers. The LCCA has an important partnership with The Cathedral School to ensure the Choristers are able to fulfil their choir duties and partake fully in school life.
A key role of the LCCA is fundraising, particularly for the Cathedral Choir’s biennial tours. The LCCA has also contributed to the ongoing Llandaff Cathedral organ appeal. The Cathedral School has generously supported the LCCA in its fundraising efforts, for example by providing an alternative venue for the 2010 Christmas Ball which was postponed because of heavy snow!
Though undoubtedly the main reward for being a chorister is the opportunity to sing inspiring church music, the LCCA also organises a variety of treats including celebrations to mark the start and finish of the Choristers’ time in the choir and other activities such as water sports and football.
Lent Term 2011 was a good one for the boy choristers. They retained their title as champions of the inter-choir schools football tournament and were able to enjoy the new facilities offered by the new school pavilion. The day ended with Choral Evensong sung by over 180 choristers from visiting Cathedrals.
To visit the Cathedral Choir Associations website please click here.
In 2007 the decision was made for the Cathedral to replace the previous organ with a completely new instrument after a lightning strike had rendered it unusable. The Cathedral chose the organ builders Nicholson & Co. of Malvern whose proposal was for the largest, wholly-new, British built organ to be commissioned in a UK cathedral for nearly half a century.
Work began in the factory in 2008, moving to the Cathedral in 2009. After approximately 30,000 man-hours, the first instalment of the organ was completed and was heard for the first time at the Paschal Vigil on Holy Saturday 2010. Due to the financial downturn, part of the project had to be put on hold. However, in October 2013 the organ was completed with the addition of the Solo Organ and additional pedal pipes.
The magnificent organ cases, situated either side of the Choir stalls, frame Sir Jacob Epstein’s Christ in Majesty contain a total of 4,870 pipes.
Cathedral schools were established to educate the boys who sang treble in their choirs. There are still almost 40 schools, of which some are preparatory schools, and some are senior independent schools. The Cathedral School, Llandaff is the only surviving Anglican choir school in Wales.
Records are incomplete but we do know that a school of some kind existed in Llandaff from the 9th Century through to the Middle Ages. In Henry VIII’s reign, a great deal of Church property was disposed of and in 1553 the Manor of Llandaff was sold. This included Bryn-y-Gynnen, which was the Bishops Manor House and was situated close to the Cathedral. During the reign of Elizabeth I the people of Glamorgan agreed to fund a teacher at £12 per annum.
The School survived an impoverished time during 1691, when it was called the Free School, and was housed in the Chapter House. Between 1794 and 1751, the present school, designed by John Wood of Bath, was built on the site of Bryn-y-Gynnen. It was known originally as Llandaff Court and was owned by Admiral Thomas Matthew. Admiral Matthew heartily disliked the building, comparing it to a "3-decker ship"! In 1840 the office of Dean was revived and the Cathedral was restored by John Pritchard. The present School Chapel was designed by lwan Christian in 1861.
An article in the Guardian in 1871, which carried an account of the start of a boarding school for choristers in Salisbury, gave the Reverend Fishbourne the idea for a similar establishment in Llandaff for some 20 boys – all potential choristers. The School was housed in a small house near Llandaff Bridge. Soon after, the Chapter cut down Fishbourne’s original scheme – much to his great disappointment.
In 1879, when Dr. Vaughan became the Dean, he began plans for a school (sadly now demolished) for around 50 boys at The Cathedral Green in Llandaff and this was opened in 1880. Dean Vaughan had been the Headmaster at Harrow School and was a great scholar; the school was opened in 1880 and remained on the Cathedral Green site until 1957. Dean Vaughan died in 1897 leaving the School with firm foundations.
A German landmine had severely damaged the Nave of the Cathedral in 1941 and, when restoration work was completed in 1955, the old School building being deemed to be "unsuitable" and the Cathedral School was moved to the present premises, which had until then been used as the Bishop’s Palace. The School then became a member of the Nathaniel Woodard Corporation.
In 1958 there were 190 boys in 9 forms. Today there are 650 pupils ranging from Nursery to GCSE.
To visit The Cathedral School website click here.
The Cathedral Parish Choir consists of boys, girls, men and women and is a fundamental part of the Parish community.
The full choir sings at the 09:00 Parish Eucharist every Sunday and the adults sing at the 17:30 Service of Compline in the Lady Chapel every Sunday.
Rehearsals are held as follows:
In addition to a full singing schedule, there are many social functions throughout the year. The boys and girls usually play football on the Cathedral Green after a Monday rehearsal during the summer months.
Applications to join the Choir are always welcome and anyone interested should contact the Director of the Parish Choir, David Thomas email.
David also teaches the organ at the Cathedral and anyone interested in having lessons should contact him.
The Society constantly looks to its future and keen prospective singers are invited to contact the Secretary or the Conductor for more information. Rehearsals are on Monday evenings between 19:30 and 21:30 during term-time at the Llandaff City Church-in-Wales Primary School.
To visit the Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society website click here.
Cathedral Website - this page last updated: 02/12/2013 14:28