Behind the scenes: Derby Cathedral Choir at Christmas

For many people, attending a carol services in a church or at Derbys Cathedral is where Christmas really starts and there’s something magical about listening to the sound of choristers singing carols at Christmas.

But what is it like for those who are working hard behind the scenes to produce such music at this busy time of year?

The Cathedral's director of Music, Alexander Binns, gives us a festive flavour of what Derby Cathedral Choir get up to over the Christmas period.

Musicians often hear the phrase, ‘Christmas – it must be a very busy time of year for you’, and there’s a certain degree of truth in that.

But for Derby Cathedral Choir it’s not much busier than any other time as our usual weekly round of choral services number five or six in your average term-time week.

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Rehearsal time for the girl choristers

Here at the Cathedral, behind every polished service is hours and hours of preparation from both the music department and the Cathedral Choir; planning music to fit with the readings and theme of the service, teaching the music to the choristers, rehearsing the music with the choir, producing copies and orders of service, and practising the music on the organ.

Long after the schools have broken up the choristers in the Cathedral Choir are still working hard to produce music of the very highest standard right up until and including Christmas Day, in what is one of the most rewarding periods of the year.

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The boys' choir at a cathedral service

For the choristers it’s of course a special time of year. Children are naturally very excited by Christmas and the opportunity to sing in a dimly lit Cathedral to hundreds of people by the light of candle is one of the most magical parts of a chorister’s life.

On top of the normal carol services for both Advent and Christmas we also find ourselves carol singing at the Intu shopping centre on one of the busiest Saturdays of the year for shopping – a vital fundraising activity which helps us subside choir tours, CDs and many other exciting projects that the Cathedral Choir undertake throughout the year.

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The cathedral's director of music, Alexander Binns, leads the choir

Other regular features of the Cathedral Choir’s Christmas are the bi-annual performance of the well-loved work Messiah by Handel and the opportunity to sing live on BBC Radio Derby.

But it’s not all work and no play for the choristers at Christmas – the chorister Christmas party at Pizza Express and the Hollywood Bowl is an annual highlight and gives the choristers the opportunity to let their hair down, relax and bond as a group outside of the Cathedral and their usual routine.

Do join us for one of our Cathedral Carol Services on Sunday 22 December at 6.00pm or Tuesday 24 December at 6.00pm.

If you know of a child that loves singing and may be interested in a choristership at Derby Cathedral then do email music@derbycathedral.org or turn up to our Be a Chorister! Day at the Cathedral on Saturday 18 January at 2.30pm.

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Choristers build lasting friendships and enjoy plenty of lighthearted moments

The Diocese of Derby

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Derby Church House

Full Street, Derby DE1 3DR

01332 388650

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enquiries@derby.anglican.org