English Boy Choir Costumes: Worcester Cathedral

Figure 1.--The Worchester Choir performs in red robes. Choir robes not withstanding boys will be boys.

The Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral is the best known landmark of Worcester. St. Oswald founded a Saxon Monastery to Worcester in 983. The Cathedral is of Norman origins. The earliest part of the Cathedral is the Norman Crypt which was constructed by St. Wulstan. The Cathedral's circular chapter house is one of the first of its kind in England. It was built around 1120-50. Years later the west end of the nave was reconstructed. The great tower was added in the 14th century, when much of the Cathedral was rebuilt. The Cathedral is best known as the burial site of King John who died in 1216. Above King John's tomb in the choir is the oldest Royal effigy in England. Prince Arthur's Chantry, an elaborately carved chapel, was built in 1504 by Henry VII in memory of his son Arthur, who had died in Ludlow. Prince Arthur was the older brother of Henry VIII--one of the most famous of all English kings. Henry married Catherine of Aragon who had been bethrohed to his brother. It was Henry's divorce of Catherine that launched the English reformation.

The Choir

The Worcester Cathedral Choir is one of the foremost of Britain's cathedral choirs. It is financed entirely by the Cathedral. The Choir has 18 choristers. Their major duty is daily services at the Cathedral. They perform the office of Evensong with the men from the choir.

Current Approach

The orcester Cathedal Choir director, Adrian Lucas, says that since his arrival at the Cathedral in 1996, he has attempted to bring about a more informal style. "When I recruit the new choristers, I am not necessarily looking for the typical English choral sound. I am looking for a continental sound sometimes. "Our participation in the Three Choirs' Festival with Hereford and Gloucester gives a new dimension to our work."

Figure 2.--The Worchester Choir choristers wear the grey suits worth by the students of the King's School. This photograph was taken in 1961.


The choristers are educated at the King's School in Worcester.

Lay Clerks

The choir is also composed of lay clerks who sing the alto tenor and bass lines carry out their duties in addition to regular daytime employment.


Typical choral works sung by the choir are from the likes of Byrd, Tallis, Purcell and Britten. Elgar is also included in the choir's repertoire. The famous Edwardian composer lived in the area around Worchester.


The Choir has performed widely throughhout Britain and Europe. There is a busy schedule of broadcasts and outside concerts. The Choir in recent years has appeared on both national and international television and radio, including an ambitious live broadcast of Bernstein's Mass with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and an impressive 52 minute documentary on the European boys' choir tradition "L'Or des Anges". The Choir was the first British choir to tour South Africa after the end of Apartheid. ecent tours have included visits to France and Ireland. Th Choir vosited the United States for the fourth time in 2000.


The Choir has made many recordings of wide range of choral music, mainly focusing on the core repertoire of the Anglican Choral Tradition. In 1998 the choristers recorded NoŽl, a disk of Christmas music for boys' voices with harp and organ, including a new cycle of carols by Adrian Lucas, Master of the Choristers, and a landmark recording of the Three Cathedral Choirs of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester including the Duruflť Requiem. In July of 1999 the choir was privileged to celebrate two major anniversaries of Sir David Willcocks his 80th birthday and a remarkable 50 years since he moved to Worcester Cathedral as organist.

Choir Costumes

Christopher Wagner

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Created: Serptember 13, 2000
Last updated: November 16, 2002