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Praise be! Exeter's choristers are back!

Children set to sing again at cathedral

Praise be! Choristers are returning to Exeter Cathedral for the first time since lockdown.

The 40 girls and boys of Exeter Cathedral School are set to sing for an audience again on after weeks of planning to ensure covid-19 precautions are met. Timothy Noon, the cathedral’s director of music, says: “Now that we are back, we have moved the girl choristers from their relatively small song school into the well ventilated and lofty space of the north transept. Both girls and boys are functioning as ‘cross-year’ distinct bubbles, which reduces the need for them to distance socially from each other, although they still stay two metres away from the directors and the choir’s adult singers. Hand sanitiser is very much the order of the day.”

For the Revd Canon James Mustard, canon chancellor of Exeter Cathedral, the chorister’s re-turn is a huge boost. “Inevitably, the pandemic brings changes to the way in which our choristers can rehearse and perform. But we’ve just endured the longest period without any choristers at all since the English civil war and Commonwealth, so simply bringing the children back into Cathedral life is a really exciting step forward.”

The six-month absence did encourage creative new ways of maintaining voices while at home, as  Mr Noon explains: “Although lockdown prevented us from being together in the same physical space, with help from our choristers’ parents we did still meet for rehearsals via Zoom, with each chorister singing from her or his own home. To help maintain focus, we also recorded several items. Each child sang their own piece from home, then the individual recordings were combined digitally to give the impression of a group performance.”

Phoebe, a Year 7 Chorister at the school says: “I am very excited to be back at choir. The first rehearsal was quite emotional but I really enjoyed it. It was okay doing virtual choir rehearsals, but I’m so much happier to be back and doing the real thing.”

The Choristers’ first public appearance at Exeter Cathedral is for the Choral Evensong service on Monday 28 September at 5.30pm. The service is free to attend, but advance booking is essential to ensure safe physical distancing. Tickets are available on the Exeter Cathedral website.

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