Project Phoenix aims to take the choir to new heights, inspiring a new generation of choristers and breathing new life into the cathedral’s choral tradition.
Newly appointed Director of Music, Dr Ronny Krippner said: “The English choral tradition is the envy of the world but it’s vital to keep this as relevant as possible in the 21st century and ensure the choir goes from strength to strength.”
The recruitment drive follows a period which has seen the closure of the choir school and a pandemic which meant that rehearsals went on-line and visiting schools in order to recruit was an impossibility.
Dr Krippner explained: “The closure of the choir school does mean that the choir can now be accessed by children whose families may not have been able to pay the school fees, so we are definitely more inclusive.
“But it also means that we have to work harder to recruit and we have to recruit from a smaller area because of travel time.
“Recruitment was also hit by the Covid pandemic when we were unable to recruit and rehearsals were on Zoom.”
There are around 30 children in choir, with girls making up about two thirds of the current membership and so Dr Krippner is keen to boost the number of boys. The children he seeks to recruit need to currently be in Year 3 or above (age 7-11) and he’s in the process of visiting 20 schools in the Ripon area, speaking at assemblies and holding auditions.
“To become a cathedral chorister, children don’t necessarily have to play an instrument yet, all we are looking for is a spark in their eyes, a good voice and parents who are willing to commit,” added Dr Krippner.
“Being a chorister is so much more than singing, it’s about achieving extraordinary things even when you are feeling a little tired.
“It’s about friendships and excellence in what you do. So becoming a chorister in a place like Ripon Cathedral really is something special.”
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Music has been central to life at this magnificent church for 1,350 years, since Wilfrid brought cantors from Canterbury to teach the chant to his Benedictine monks and fill the new stone Church of St Peter which stood on the site, with glorious sound.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson DL said: “We at Ripon Cathedral value hugely our choral foundation, believing that the contribution of all members of our music department enhances our worship and helps to sustain a significant element of our heritage, something which at Ripon goes back to the 7th century.
“We are looking for musical girls and boys to join the cathedral choir as choristers and continue this choral tradition.
“It’s an outstanding opportunity and all our choristers receive a first class musical education at no cost to their parents. Being a cathedral chorister can be a life changing experience so it’s very much worth considering.”