|Do you need to audition?
Anyone can join us as long as they can read music to a basic level and enjoy singing.
Is there an age limit?
We welcome adults of all ages and voice types. Children are encouraged to come along to any Friday rehearsal and just join in. Generally speaking, seven years old is the youngest practical age to start.
Why sing in a choir?
Singing is an enjoyable, sociable and uplifting thing to do. Music-making in groups builds awareness and team skills, as well as increasing concentration and coordination. It is not only about singing in the choir, but also about the parties! We have an annual choir dinner in a local hostelry as well as regular pub trips after choir practice. At Christmas, we often have a carol pub crawl for charity, and drinks receptions following our regular concerts and events.
Running any form of group activity relies on a certain amount of commitment from its members. We appreciate that people have busy lives and we adopt a realistic expectation.
||Singing in the choir
The choir of St Michael’s meets twice a week: on Friday evenings for choir practice, and on Sunday mornings for the Parish Communion service. It also sings Choral Evensong on the first Sunday of each month, as well as other Feast Days including Christmas, Easter and Good Friday.
At the weekly Friday choir practice, the children meet at 6.30pm and rehearse until 8.00pm. The adults join the rehearsal at 7.00pm and remain until 8.30pm. The Sunday morning service is at 10.00am with a rehearsal beforehand starting at 9.20am.
The choir takes its major holiday during the school summer holidays. We also take a week off after Christmas and Easter.
How much will it cost?
Everything is provided free of charge, including music, robes and training by professional musicians. Small groups of choristers get paid to sing at weddings, so summers can be lucrative! The children also get a nominal sum which is calculated according to attendance and achievement.
||Could you be a chorister?
The tradition of choral singing in the churches of England stretches back over seven hundred years, and is one of the most important aspects of our cultural heritage. For centuries, children and adults have sung in our churches and cathedrals, enriching the worship and liturgy.
Generations of this country’s finest musicians and composers started their musical lives as choristers, from Henry Purcell to Edward Elgar to Dudley Moore!
The church in Bray has been the centre of the village community since 1293, and it is very likely that a near unbroken tradition of choral music has accompanied the liturgy ever since. The choir of St Michael’s is proud to uphold this strong tradition.
One of our chief tasks is to recruit new choristers to replace the adults who may move away from the area, and the children who eventually leave home to go to university.
The Music Staff
Oliver Gooch has been Director of Music at St Michael’s, Bray since 2003. He is responsible for training and conducting the choir, as well as organising all the musical events at St Michael’s, as part of the Music at Bray series. He combines this post with a successful career as a freelance conductor. He is as a regular guest of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and has recently made debuts with the Philharmonia, Hallé, and Tasmanian Symphony. His musical training began as a music scholar at Harrow School, before becoming Organ Scholar of Worcester Cathedral and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He studied conducting at Tanglewood and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2009.
Music at Bray has provision to award a small number of choral scholarships to encourage younger singers to join the choir. These are intended to be awarded to singers between the age of sixteen and eighteen who show potential and are keen to continue their musical study. The award is £200 per annum on an annual renewable basis, extending to a maximum of three years. The award must be used for musical study in that year and need not be for singing lessons. The scholarships are awarded on two criteria: the choir’s recruitment needs, and on audition and interview of candidates. It is open to any voice type and ideal for sixth form students who have some experience of choral singing. A choir provides the young singer with an invaluable opportunity to improve musicianship skills and with the benefit of this training, some former choristers have gone on to universities as Choral Scholars.
There is also provision to award bursaries to any child to attend choral courses, such as those run by the RSCM. These will be awarded on merit and may be in respect of the full, or part cost of the course. These courses are very enjoyable and rewarding, varying from one-day workshops
to week-long residential courses.
COME AND JOIN US!
The Choir of
St Michael’s Church, Bray
For further information,
St Michael’s Cottage
Berkshire SL6 2AF