The choir of the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy is a fine male-voice choir in the English cathedral tradition, with six professional men’s voices joined by up to 21 boy trebles aged from 10 upwards. They sing at the Sunday morning services every week, as well as Christmas, Easter and a few additional services such as royal events and weddings.
The boys join the choir to sing, of course, but they also enjoy being part of a very special group of musicians, rehearsing and performing together at school, travelling to and from the Chapel together, and playing games in the breaks. If you see a couple of boys playing table tennis in Embankment Gardens on any Sunday, the chances are that they’re two of the Savoy choristers.
All the boys in the choir attend St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, but they are selected before joining the school. In fact, the audition for the choir and a eleven-plus-style entrance test for the school are combined in a single selection process. Boys are tested at age nine or ten, in February or March of their school Year Five. Those selected join the choir in the following autumn (Year Six), and the School the year after that (Year Seven). Most stay in the choir until the end of Year Nine, and often longer, until their voice breaks.
Both the Chapel and St Olave’s are easily accessible by train from any part of south-east London and certain parts of Surrey and Kent. The current choristers live in areas such as Orpington, Petts Wood, Forest Hill, Chislehurst, Sevenoaks and Oxted and many travel together on Sundays.
Any Year Five boy with an aptitude for music and willingness to commit to life as a chorister is welcome to audition. Although the choristers are in London for all of Sunday morning, and rehearse three times during the school week, the time commitment is less demanding than at cathedrals, where choristers typically sing at daily services.
More details are available on the St Olave’s School website, or from the Master of the Music, Mr Philip Berg. Please come to an 11am Sunday service if you would like to chat to a current choir parent.