The girls' choir of Christ Church, Frideswide Voices, is open to girls of all backgrounds, from any school.

Choristers

Girls join the Choir as pre-probationers (trainees) at the start of Year 3. We are always interested in hearing from potential choristers when they are in Year 2 with a view to membership from September of Year 3; families should aim to express an interest by the Spring of Year 2 (the academic year in which girls turn seven). 

Occasional vacancies sometimes occur for older girls; interested families or teachers should contact the Frideswide Voices Choir Manager at the earliest opportunity for details of these, or to be placed on a waiting list.

How to apply

applications for membership beginning in September 2024 and audition booking will open in mid-May. For more information, please email frideswide.voices@chch.ox.ac.uk

Frideswade Voices

'Be a Chorister for a Day' taster events

Each year, the Cathedral hosts a selection of taster events for girls, boys and their families. Frideswide Voices typically hold one 'Be a Chorister' afternoon in the Spring term, and a second in the Summer term before auditions (usually held in mid-June), for girls to experience what it might be like to become a Frideswide chorister.

Our 'Be a Chorister' events for entry in September 2024 will be held on Saturday 9 March and Saturday 11 May 2024. To register for either event please email frideswide.voices@chch.ox.ac.uk.

These events are open to girls in Year 1 and Year 2 (older girls are welcome, though families should be aware that entry to the choir is not normally available after this point), for entry in September of Year 3 (the academic year in which girls turn eight). 

Each event includes the opportunity to:

  • try on some choir robes
  • play musical games and learn songs with Frideswide Voices' tutors
  • have a tour of the Cathedral and College
  • join a rehearsal with the choristers
  • sing with the Choir at a service in the Cathedral

There will also be a Q&A session when parents can hear from a panel of staff, parents and girls about what being a Frideswide Voices chorister entails, and ask any questions.  

Families do not necessarily need to have attended a taster event to apply, though we are always glad to meet young singers before our auditions. 

Choirs singing together

Learning an instrument

All choristers also receive an instrumental bursary, allowing them to study an instrument. Those already playing an instrument are encouraged to take up a second study. 

During weekly training sessions, they also receive one-to-one theory lessons, allowing them to progress more quickly and smoothly through their instrumental study. Their vocal development is overseen by three Frideswide Voices singing teachers, with each girl receiving a 20-minute lesson every week.

Chorister exams

Qualifications

As they gain more experience, girls are entered for chorister exams through the Royal School of Church Music (Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards).

All choristers are prepared for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) Grade 5 Theory exams, with most taking the exam (funded by Christ Church) in Year 6 or 7.

Girls continue to sing in the Choir until at least the end of Year 8, though almost all choose to continue until the end of Year 9.

View towards the stained glass
Organist's hands on the keys

Chorister Assistants

Frideswide Voices Chorister Assistants are undergraduate students who support the work of staff in training the girl choristers. They are given the opportunity to develop their skills and gain experience of cathedral music at the highest level during their time in Oxford. 

Chorister Assistants do no need to be students from Christ Church; past CAs have been organ scholars of other colleges wishing to gain experience of chorister training, education students from Oxford Brookes University, and non-organists with an interest in music education and choral direction. 

Duties include theory teaching, leading small group rehearsals, and assisting with training the Probationer choristers. Past Assistants who are organists have also been offered opportunities to accompany the choir at Cathedral services. 

Frideswide Voices FAQs

  • When can my daughter apply?

    Applications are welcome during Year 2 for membership from September of Year 3. Girls who wish to audition are encouraged to attend one of the 'Be a Chorister for a Day' taster sessions prior to voice trials – these are typically held in March and May each year, with auditions taking place in late May and early June.

  • What will a voice trial for Frideswide Voices entail?

    After some vocal warm-ups, candidates will be asked to sing a short prepared piece of their choice (this may be sacred or secular, accompanied or unaccompanied). Some simple aural tests will then be given (e.g. singing or clapping back a phrase played on the piano). 

    Girls will also be asked to read a short poem or hymn text, and are likely to be asked about why they enjoy music and singing. 

    The audition will last around 20 minutes.

    Girls who already play an instrument may choose to play a short piece of their choice, though there is no expectation girls will do so.

  • Do singers need to be able to read music to join Frideswide Voices?

    No. Some girls will have no previous experience of reading music. Those who are keen and committed and have a good musical ear and a reasonable vocal range will be considered for the choir. Training in musicianship and sight-singing will be given. 

  • What is a typical week for Frideswide Choristers?

    The schedule below gives an idea of a typical week for Frideswide Choristers, though each term also includes a weekend of services (Saturday Evensong, and Sunday Eucharist and Evensong) and other one-off events. The girls also sing Evensong without the Clerks on some Mondays during term-time.

    Monday              

    4.20pm                 Arrival

    4.45pm                 Rehearsal, incorporating one-to-one theory lessons, musicianship training and vocal coaching       

    6.45pm                 Departure          

     

    Wednesday       

    4.20pm                 Arrival

    4.45pm                 Chorister rehearsal in the Cathedral

    5.00pm                 Full rehearsal with Lay and Academical Clerks

    5.45pm                 Break and chorister tea

    6.05pm                 Choral Evensong

    6.45pm                 Departure

    Pre-Probationers (those in Year 3) attend only on Mondays in the Autumn and Spring terms.

    Probationers (usually those in Year 4) sing only a portion of Wednesday services during the Autumn and Spring terms.

  • How much does it cost to become a member of Frideswide Voices?

    There is no cost to be a chorister at Christ Church – the cost of the girls' singing, theory and instrumental lessons is covered by the Cathedral, and all resources and snacks are provided free of charge.

    The Cathedral bears the cost of the girl choristers' music exams, and of all travel for tours and singing trips.

  • What are the benefits to my daughter?

    • Choral and individual vocal training, including a 20-minute weekly singing lesson
    • Wider musicianship and music theory tuition, including a 20-minute weekly theory lesson
    • Understanding of music within the Church of England
    • Professionalism and teamwork skills – regular singing with the professional clerks (Cathedral Choir singers)
    • A bursary to cover instrumental lessons is given to all choristers
    • A varied social calendar
    • Tours and visits to other Cathedrals
    • Chorister tea on service days
  • Who was Frideswide?

    Frideswide Voices is named for the patronal saint of Oxford, St Frideswide. She was a Saxon princess whose shrine lies at the heart of Christ Church Cathedral, which itself was born out of the remnants of St Frideswide Priory.

    Frideswide’s legend tells us that she defied social norms by refusing to marry a local king, instead following her call to monastic life. Despite much opposition, she founded a community of religious women (and probably men) and was its first abbess. According to tradition, Frideswide was a woman of learning, intelligence and wisdom.  As was typical of eighth-century monastic life, her ministry was one of teaching and missionary work in the area around Oxford.  She was known as a woman powerful in prayer and with gifts of healing, and her community as a place of learning and safety.