There has been a tradition of choral singing at York for a millennium or more, with clergy singers from the start, boy choristers for much of that time and lay songmen for around 500 years.
York Minster has a very active choir made up of Choristers and Songmen; it is one of the leading UK choirs. The choristers are all students at the neighbouring Minster School and are aged 7-13. York Minster was one of the UK’s first cathedrals to introduce girl choristers alongside the boys. The girls and boys share the singing of the eight sung services each week equally, joining forces for major events such as the great Christmas and Easter festivities.
York Minster is one of the few UK Cathedral with this even split of responsibilities that doesn’t require choristers to board at the school. As one of the leading cathedral choirs in the country, competition for places in the choir is high, and indeed, some of the families of current choristers have relocated the whole family so that their children can be part of the choir. Parents of potential choristers should contact the Minster School for further information about places.
The Choir normally sings on Sundays at 10:00am, 11:30am and 4:00pm; on Tuesdays to Saturdays daily at 5:15pm. On Mondays and during the choir holidays, the Minster is pleased to host many visiting choirs who come to sing services.
If you are thinking of making a special journey to hear the Choir, we suggest you check the list of services on this site, call us on 01904 557200 or email to check details before you come. For a full list of services and music, check the Minster Service Scheme.
The music performed within the Minster comes from a wide and varied repertoire, from performances of some of the earliest music recorded to modern popular, within the liturgy and in concerts. Check our What's On page to find out about the concerts at the Minster.
Over the year, York Minster’s musicians have not only performed some of the finest repertoire from past centuries, they have also commissioned and performed new works. Former Minster organists have contributed widely to the repertoire of Anglican choral music, most notably Tertius Noble, Sir Edward Bairstow, Francis Jackson and Philip Moore.
Songmen and Choral Scholars
The Minster Choir has 12 men, including Songmen and Choral Scholars. The Director of Music is always pleased to hear from those who are considering Alto, Tenor and Bass choral scholarships. Please contact The Director of Music, Church House, York, YO1 7JN, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All choir members are welcome to join the York Minster Choristers' Association which supports the work of the choir.
The Friends of Cathedral Music, founded in 1956, aims to safeguard the living tradition of English church music, increase public awareness and appreciation of cathedral music and encourage high standards in choral and organ music. Over £2 million has been given to cathedral, church and collegiate chapel choirs endowing choristerships, and in working to maintain the cathedral tradition of choral worship. York Minster is one of those cathedrals which has benefitted from FCM support.
The Director of Music is always pleased to hear from potential deputy singers who substitute for an absent Songman or Choral Scholar. Experienced singers with good sight-reading skills should contact Robert Sharpe on email@example.com to arrange an audition.