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Emergency choirs’ fund reaches £2 million

31 December 2020

PA

The chamber choir at a Christmas service in Worcester Cathedral on 18 December

The chamber choir at a Christmas service in Worcester Cathedral on 18 December

THE Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund has reached its £1-million target — a sum doubled by matched funding from the Church Commissioners (News, 17 July).

The fund — a partnership between the Choir Schools’ Association, the Cathedral Music Trust, and the Ouseley Music Trust — was created to provide immediate support for choirs unable to function during the pandemic. Each committed £250,000; and the remainder was raised through donations from supporters around the world.

It was prompted by a survey from the Cathedral Music Trust (CMT) showing how many foundations would struggle without additional funds once lockdown restrictions were eased. The money was expected to pay the salaries of lay clerks for up to four months from the time when it was deemed safe to recommence choral services with congregations, and it was hoped that it would cover both Advent and Christmas.

Demand for a second round of grants, awarded last week, proved to be three times more than the funds available. The CMT will launch a further campaign in 2021 to provide ongoing support for cathedral choirs, and also for a wider range of college chapels and churches with professional choirs — to enhance as well as preserve what its chairman, Peter Allwood, described as a “precious musical tradition”.

Emergency Fund grants had gone some way towards providing support to many cathedral choirs in truly urgent need, he said. “However, we are keenly aware of the continued financial pressures many choirs are experiencing, and we will stay in close communication with those who did not receive a grant on this occasion, and assist in any way that we can.

“I would like to thank the many performers and members of the public who helped us to reach our £1-million target. The sheer number of contributors shows just how many people are committed to giving our choirs a voice into the future.”

Choral and organ scholars across the country were among those contributors, producing a celebrity virtual choral evensong, in May, to raise funds (News, 24 April).

Ripon, Hereford, and Portsmouth Cathedrals are among those to have received grants. Portsmouth says that the funding will give a financial lifeline to more than 70 musicians across three choirs, and will safeguard the cathedral’s choral tradition and regular pattern of sung services until summer 2021.

Its choirs train 50 choristers a year, from seven schools in the city, and its “Cathedral Sing!” programme reached 1000 primary-school children in 2019. The Organist and Master of the Choristers, Dr David Price, said: “As we approach a Christmas like no other, music and singing will once again be at the heart of our worship and celebrations at Portsmouth Cathedral.

“This support from the Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund is so welcome, and will make a real difference to our ability to weather the storm of coronavirus and keep making transcendent and uplifting music, day in, day out.”

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