The Choirs of Newcastle Cathedral
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Newcastle Cathedral’s Music Team is delighted to share the good news that two of the former Head Choristers of the Boys’ Choir are continuing their musical journeys at leading UK music conservatoires. Josh Mitchell-Rayner has recently started studying composition at the Royal College of Music, and Will Peutherer has received offers from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama to study Percussion from September 2023.
Josh and Will joined the Cathedral Choir a decade ago under Michael Stoddart, our former Director of Music. As the first Newcastle School for Boys (NSB) Choral Scholars, they took great pride in not only singing as part of the Cathedral Choir, locally and on tour to Paris, but played a leading role in the school choirs and the broader music scene too.
Michael Stoddart, Director of Music from 2009-2016, says: “I know from my own experience as a chorister at Westminster Abbey that cathedral choirs offer many diverse life skills like no other activity I know – working in a team, the benefits that singing and sight-reading have been proven to bring to so many other academic areas, whether mathematics, linguistic and just simple curiosity.
“Choristers also have to work as equals side by side with accomplished professional adults on a daily basis. This is a rare gift. The discipline that is developed from needing to adapt to a more demanding timetable stays with one for life. Add to this experiencing the magical world of medieval architecture and life interwoven with so many different styles of music, and for me, choristership is a no-brainer.
“I am always so pleased to hear of the successes of my former choristers, and I am particularly delighted to see the value of a ‘chorister education’ being validated so clearly here by Will and Josh. I wish them every success in their exciting futures.”
The educational and developmental benefits of being a chorister are unrivalled and can change lives.
Josh, who was Head Chorister 2016-17, acquired concentration, determination and patience singing in the choir, along with a well-trained ear and deep sense of musicality: all skills which he put to good use when composing a piano concerto for his EPQ and a symphony for his A-Level Music submission. As Head Boy at NSB, he could call upon the leadership qualities and experiences of being a team player that he developed in the Cathedral Choir. Since leaving the choir, he has continued to perform regularly, though more often seen on the keyboard with the local jazz band Knats.
He says: “Choir has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life so far: developing aural skills that enable me to recognise certain features of music (an extremely valuable skill for any musician) started there. I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed my time at the Cathedral, making lots of friends and working with some incredible singers and musicians. Thank you, Newcastle Cathedral!”
Meanwhile, Will’s experience of working with adults as equals, and confidence from thrice weekly performances, set him up well to work alongside professional musicians when he played drum kit and percussion for school musicals during his senior years at Dame Allan’s. Now juggling multiple demands as a specialist percussionist at Wells Cathedral School, alongside three A-Levels and singing in the Chapel Choir and Barbershop Choir, the self-discipline and time management skills learned as a chorister are paying off.
Will says: “Being in the Cathedral Choir has given me many great things: I’ve made friends, developed skills I otherwise wouldn’t have, got lots of experience working in a team and developed a strong sense of commitment.”
The chorister opportunities at Newcastle Cathedral are about changing the lives of children and young people.
The current Director of Music, Ian Roberts, says “I’m proud of all the various things across many spheres that our former choristers go on to achieve when they leave us. But I have to say that I feel particular pride when some have developed such a deep passion and dedication for music that conservatoire study is the next step. It is also special for me personally because Josh and William were my first two Head Boy Choristers in Newcastle.
“I have no doubt that they will have huge success in their further studies, and I know that their commitment, patience, and energy as choristers will well equip them for all that lies ahead on the next stages of their musical journeys.”
Ian is keen to hear from any children interested in becoming a chorister and the life-changing opportunities it can bring. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scholarships for Choristers are available in conjunction with both Dame Allan’s Schools and Newcastle School for Boys. For further information, please contact either the schools (Dame Allan’s – Rebecca Miller, 0191 275 0608 / Newcastle School for Boys, 0191 255 9300) or Ian Roberts.