Wells Cathedral Choir

The Wells Cathedral Choir has been ranked by a Gramophone jury as the sixth-best choir in the world, and the best with boys; honors from outside the classical world include a certificate of excellence from travel website TripAdvisor. The choir's tradition is long even by English standards; there is a record of boys having sung at Wells Cathedral in the year 909, and the current choral tradition dates back to the early 13th century. The choir consists of 18 boy choristers, 18 girl choristers, and 12 adult male Vicars Choral. The boy and girl choristers usually sing separately, in combination with the Vicars Choral, but are sometimes massed for larger performances. The Vicars Choral, who are not ecclesiastical officials (the words "vicar" and "vice" are related, and the vicars were historically substitutes for the canons), date back to the 1100s; the girl choristers were added in 1994. Like other cathedral choirs, the Wells Cathedral Choir is integral to daily worship at the cathedral. The group is also notable for its large volume of concert activity. The choir has sung with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and, in 2014, the Berlin Radio Choir and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Simon Rattle. Perhaps alone among cathedral choirs, the Wells Cathedral Choir has its own festival, new music wells, founded in June of 2008. Premieres there have included works by Judith Bingham, Geoffrey Burgon, Bob Chilcott, Jonathan Dove, Gabriel Jackson, John Joubert, James MacMillan, Peter Maxwell Davies, Tarik O’Regan, John Rutter, Howard Skempton, and John Tavener. The Wells Cathedral Choir has a large catalog of recordings, many of them on the Hyperion, Griffin, Regent, and Resonus Classics labels; recordings include contemporary compositions as well as liturgical music and Renaissance English repertory. In 2016 the choir released A Wells Christmas. Associated musical activities include a Wells Cathedral Junior Choir. At this writing, Wells Cathedral's Organist and Master of Choristers is Matthew Owens.

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