Christ Church Cathedral Choir is 500 years old, yet is justly famous for the youthfulness of its sound and its daring and adventurous musical programming. Unique in the world as both Cathedral and College Choir, the intimate acoustic of its musical home has given it a relationship with early sacred music and the rhythm and vigour of contemporary idioms which is second to none.
Throughout its history, the Choir has attracted many distinguished composers and organists - from its first director, John Taverner, appointed by Cardinal Wolsey in 1526, to William Walton. The present director of music (known as the Organist), is Stephen Darlington. In recent years, the Choir has commissioned recorded works by contemporary composers such as John Tavener, William Mathias, Robert Saxton, Francis Grier and Howard Goodall.
There are twelve men and sixteen boys in the Choir along with two organists. The boys are selected for their musical ability and attend Christ Church Cathedral School. Of the men, six are professionals (the lay clerks, and six are undergraduates (the academical clerks). The Cathedral is renowned for training many of the country's leading organists. As well as singing daily services in the Cathedral (usually Tuesday - Sunday), the Choir's reputation inevitably leads to a busy annual programme of concerts and overseas tours.
The Choir has many award-winning recordings to its credit and works with several international orchestras and soloists. The Choir broadcasts regularly and was recently the subject of a Channel 4 television documentary, Howard Goodall's Great Dates, in which it was hailed as "one of the finest choirs on Earth". The film was nominated at the prestigious Montreux TV Festival in the Arts Programme category - and has since been seen throughout the world. Their collaboration with Goodall has also led to the Choir singing his TV themes for Mr Bean and The Vicar of Dibley.