The Church Choir
The choir of St Mary-le-Tower sings for three fully choral services held each Sunday:
– 9.30am Choral Matins (Book of Common Prayer).
– 10.30am Parish Eucharist (Common Worship, Order One)
– 6.30pm Choral Evensong (Book of Common Prayer) or on the first Sunday in the month:
Holy Communion (Book of Common Prayer).
The choir sing settings of the canticles (or mass settings) and anthems (or motets) at each of these services in the traditional manner. The choir itself is divided into sections comprising boys, girls and adults. At any given service, it is usually either the boys or the girls who sing the top (soprano or treble) line with the adults of the choir singing the alto, tenor and bass parts. At major festivals and for some other events the whole choir combines. Twice a month the choir is made up of boys and men, maintaining a long-standing tradition at the Tower. Full details are given on the monthly music list.
The choir is professionally run by Director of Music, Christopher Borrett and Organist, William Baldry. They are supported by two Choir Assistants, Lis Rollinson and Isolde Cutting. Also assisting the Director of Music is the Senior Music Scholar, Rhiannon Humphreys.
Children are taught to sing and to read music. They are encouraged to progress towards the Bishop’s Chorister and Gold award RSCM examinations as well as taking graded ABRSM exams. New recruits are usually aged between about six and ten. Enquiries (please contact the Director of Music). are welcome at any time. Their first few months in the choir are spent as “probationers” before they are awarded their surplice (the white garment worn over the red cassock) and they then progress gradually through a system of coloured badges. They rehearse two evenings each week and sing for either one or two services each Sunday during term time and at Christmas and Easter.
Adults’ rehearsals are on Friday evenings. A major element of this section is made up of Choral Scholars. These Altos, Tenors and Basses are in full-time education and receive a modest emolument to encourage their attendance. Potential applicants should email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance. We are particularly keen to encourage young countertenors (male altos) in their craft.
In 2013 a Choral Foundation was launched to underpin the financing of the Church Choir, aiming to ensure the continuity and longevity of the tradition of choral music in worship at St Mary-le-Tower.
Tower Chamber Choir
The Tower Chamber Choir was founded in 2001 to give a performance of Bach’s St John Passion on Good Friday of that year. It has since given two or three concerts every year, mainly in St Mary-le-Tower Church. It performs a wide repertoire, ranging from Ockeghem to Mäntyjärvi. It does not have a regular rehearsal night but meets for some six or seven rehearsals in a short period before a concert. Its auditioned members are experienced choral singers from across the county of Suffolk and beyond.