Westminster Abbey Choir School
|Type||Independent boarding prep school
Choral foundation school
|Religion||Church of England|
|Headmaster||Mr Jonathan Milton|
|Chair of Governors||The Very Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster|
|Location||20 Dean's Yard
Westminster Abbey Choir School is a boarding preparatory school for boys in Westminster, London and the only remaining choir school in the United Kingdom which exclusively educates choristers. It is located in Dean's Yard, by Westminster Abbey. It educates about 30 boys, aged 8–13 who sing in the Choir of Westminster Abbey which takes part in state and national occasions as well as singing evensong everyday (except Wednesday) and gives concert performances around the world. Its most recent tour[when?] was to Moscow, singing in the International House of Music there. Other tours included trips to Australia, America, and Hong Kong.
The choir school was thought to have been founded around 1560 as the choir boys of Westminster Abbey have been educated since Elizabethan times. The present school was built in 1919 and underwent major renovations in 1990s.
As a choir school, boys are selected by musical ability. The Dean and Chapter meet the cost of their vocal training and at least eighty per cent of the cost of their education. The regular school curriculum is not neglected and pupils are taught the required National Curriculum subjects as well as Latin, French and Greek.
The choir makes frequent broadcasts and recordings. The choir's two most recent recordings are Tye: "Missa Euge bone & Western Wynde Mass" and "Music from the reign of King James", both on Hyperion. The Sub-organist, from September 2013, is Daniel Cook and the assistant organist is Martin Ford, with James O'Donnell as the Organist and Masters of the Choristers. In 2009 it was decided to no longer have the positions of Head Chorister and Second Chorister so that the choir would be like other choirs.
The choir has travelled across the world to perform tours most recently in Australia, the USA, China, Moscow, Rome, and Hungary. Generally these tours take place once every two years. The Choir was due to go to Spain in 2009 but due to the recession it could not go ahead. The next tour the choir is due to experience is to the U.S.A in October 2014.
Notable former pupils
- Thomas Fetherstonhaugh, actor, singer
- Beans Balawi, actor
- James Burton, conductor
- Adrian Cruft, composer
- Brian Easdale, composer
- Clive Farahar, antiquarian book dealer
- William Wallace, Baron Wallace of Saltaire, academic
- Guy Woolfenden, composer
- Christopher Brown, composer
- Neil Jenkins, tenor
- Tim Brown, choral director
- James Wilkinson, author and former BBC Science Correspondent
- Westminster Abbey Choir School
- Westminster Abbey Choir and Choir School History
- A history of the choristers of Westminster Abbey
- Independent Schools Inspectorate 2006 report on the school