Songs of praise as £2m lifeline helps preserve cathedral choir tradition

Jul 13, 2020 by

by Harriet Sherwood, Guardian:

With professional singers on furlough and income plunging, a £2m fund from the Church Commissioners eases fears for the future.

For almost four months their voices have been heard only from bedrooms and kitchens instead of soaring from the choir stalls of England’s magnificent cathedrals. Amid uncertainty as to when they will be able to perform again, a growing black hole in cathedral finances from Covid-19 has raised fears about the future of their famed choirs.

But now a financial lifeline is in sight. More than £2m from the Church Commissioners and the Cathedral Choirs Emergency Fund will ensure that the “back row” singers – professionals known as lay clerks – can be funded into next year.

The church commissioners are putting up £1m to match a sum being raised by the emergency fund, 80% of which is already pledged.

“Our tradition of choral singing is second to none in the world,” said Peter Allwood, chair of the Cathedral Music Trust which helped set up the fund. “No other country has the number or quality of choirs within churches, chapels and especially cathedrals. If they were dismantled, it would be an extraordinary loss.”

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