The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is one of the world’s best known choral groups.
Every Christmas Eve millions of people worldwide tune into A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is the longest established annual broadcast in history, reaching 90 years in 2018. Additionally, Carols from King’s, a televised Christmas service also broadcast on Christmas Eve, celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2014. The Choir’s international fame and reputation, enhanced by an extensive recording catalogue, has led to invitations to perform around the world. The Choir launched its own record label in 2012 with Nine Lessons & Carols. In 2014, the Choir’s recording of Fauré’s Requiem remained on the UK classical chart for 28 weeks making it one of 2014’s best-selling core classical albums, and the 2015 release of 1615: Gabrieli in Venice was the first classical album to use Dolby’s new Atmos technology, reproducing the acoustic of the Chapel.
The Choir also has a back catalogue of more than 100 albums released with EMI and Decca. The Choir exists thanks to King Henry VI who, in founding the College in 1441, envisaged the daily singing of services in its magnificent Chapel, which remains the primary purpose of the Choir’s sixteen choristers, fourteen choral scholars and two organ scholars.
A number of famous people have attended the Choir’s services including British monarchs, from Elizabeth I to the present Queen; political leaders such as Winston Churchill and Mikhail Gorbachev; and Charles Darwin, who loved the Choir so much that he engaged the Choristers to come and sing in his rooms when he was at Cambridge. The Choir owes much to the five musicians who have maintained its consistently high standards over the course of the last 140 years: A.H. Mann (1876), Boris Ord (1929), David Willcocks (1957), Philip Ledger (1974) and, since 1982, Stephen Cleobury. Since 1870, the choristers have been educated across the river from the College at King’s College School and receive scholarships from King’s College to help pay for their education.
Presented by Classical MPR.
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