02 May 2019, The Tablet

A choir school out of harmony

A choir school out of harmony

Choristers at Westminster Cathedral sing six Masses a week, plus Vespers on Sundays


Parents of boys at Westminster Cathedral Choir School are urging Cardinal Vincent Nichols to reconsider plans to change the boarding arrangements. A London-based journalist argues that this decision would damage the choir’s world-class standing

An act of cultural vandalism to the Catholic Church in this country is taking place before our eyes. It has been enacted not by a flame-throwing outsider, but by someone supposed to be one of its chief guardians: the headmaster of the choir school of its mother Church. It has been done so subtly, and so slickly, and it seems so modest and benign on the surface, that I’m worried you might start yawning when you read what it is. But believe me, a deep blow has been struck to one of the world’s miraculous gems: the sublime daily-singing choir of men and boys that is Westminster Cathedral Choir.

On 28 March the chorister parents received an email that many felt was out of the blue from the chairman of the governors, David Heminway, announcing that from this September the choir will change from full-boarding to weekly boarding, and that instead of singing six Masses a week, the choristers will now only sing four: on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, plus Vespers on Sunday afternoons. They’ll go home on Friday and be driven in by their parents for the two Sunday services.

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