Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir is to hold choristers auditions online because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The sought-after places in one of the finest Catholic choirs in the country will be allocated using Zoom video conferencing, with "fair and balanced" voice trials via an online platform.
And in a second significant development, a chorister education for the younger boys at Liverpool will no longer be done through the private school fee-paying system.
Previously, boys were had to pay school fees to attend the Cathedral Choir junior school, although many gained scholarships which substantially reduced the fees.
From September, Runnymede St Edward’s Preparatory School will reopen as Runnymede St Edward’s Catholic Primary School, a new voluntary aided school.
Dr Chris McElroy, director of music, who normally spends much of the summer term on choir recruitment, said this year, because of lockdown, the process will be very different. In addition, the existing choir is not singing because of the lockdown restrictions.
But new children still have to be found, for when services and school resume.
Head chorister Michael Massen, aged 14, told The Tablet that he was "really missing" the school and choir in lockdown.
He auditioned for the choir when he was about 7 years old, after his parents noticed he enjoyed singing.
He said they rehearse every day before school, at 7.55am, except Mondays and Saturdays, and also spend Sunday at the cathedral with table tennis and football in breaks between services. "I love it, it is amazing," he told The Tablet.
His favourite piece is Handel's Messiah. He hopes to start singing in a youth choir after his treble voice changes.
His education has continued online during the lockdown, and each day the music staff "meet" individually or in small groups with choristers, to work on music theory, vocal technique and keyboard skills.
Regarding his time in the choir, he said: "For anyone going to audition, you don't have to have the best singing voice. They are looking for potential, to see how you can develop. And it is not all about singing. You learn how to become and gain confidence, to do better in life."
As the older choristers leave each year – boys whose voices have changed, and girls preparing for GCSE’s – the choir recruits boys, currently in years 2 and 3 and girls currently in year 5.
Dr McElroy said: "We are delighted as this means that all Catholic children throughout the archdiocese will now have the opportunity to audition for a place as a chorister at the cathedral, without the burden of school fees, and to be educated at our two cathedral choir Schools: Runnymede St Edward’s Catholic Primary School for boys aged 7-11, and St Edward’s College for boys and girls, aged 11-15.
The closing dates for applications are 7 May for boys and 5 June for girls.
Watch and listen to the choir in action on Songs of Praise.