Worldwide tours are usually associated with rockstars rather than choirboys.
But for the angle-voiced King’s College choristers, global travel is part of the potentially life-changing experience – and now the choir is looking for new recruits.
So as they search for their next singing sensation we thought we would found out what it’s like to be part of this prestigious University of Cambridge choir.
“It’s an extraordinary training,” said Daniel Hyde, director of music at King’s College.
Boarding at King’s College School, an £8,440 per term prep school in Cambridge, is a requirement for choristers in order to be “immersed” in the experience.
Successful choristers, typically aged 8 when they join, receive at least two-thirds discount on term fees – with further financial support available where needed.
A day in the life
King’s College choirboys must commit to a taxing training regime, with choral practice five times a week on top of their schoolwork.
Lunch consists of an hour of practice and time after school is spent in King’s College chapel singing with adult members of the choir.
While the training may be gruelling, the rewards can be extraordinary – with worldwide travel part of the package.
“In 2019 we were in the US, Australia, Holland and Germany,” said Mr Hyde, who was a chorister at Durham Cathedral as a child.
“These are wonderful opportunities for the kids to perform at major venues like Sydney Opera House and explore a country.”
As for the iconic Christmas carols, which are televised across the nation, most choristers must wait two years before being invited to take part, though some may join earlier.
The chorister’s training finishes at the end of Year 8, or when his voice changes. This coincides with him leaving King’s College School and moving to secondary school.
The ideal chorister
Mr Hyde said the ideal chorister – who must complete an audition to join – would have a “slight mischievous streak” and a musical ear.
“A common mistake is that parents look at the end product,” he said.
“They look at Christmas on TV and think my kid can’t do that. We’re looking for potential, not the finished product.”
Notable ex-choristers from elsewhere in England include former England cricket captain Alistair Cook and Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow.
Mr Hyde stressed the opportunity was “open to everyone”, explaining that musical talent was the criteria for selection, rather than financial assets.
He said his own experience showed how being a chorister could provide unique life opportunities.
“I was a chorister [in Durham] and because of that, I was able to get a scholarship at a secondary school that I would have never been able to get into.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I wasn’t a chorister. It all traces back to that opportunity,” he said.
King’s College Choir is encouraging boys in Years 2-4 who have a musical interest to apply. The choristership begins in September 2021.