Young choristers at Ripon Cathedral

Meet Francesca, Xander, Ava and Starla – Ripon Cathedral’s newest choristers and the first children in Year One to be accepted in to the ranks of this prestigious choir.

The six-year-olds will receive a first-class musical training including singing and music theory lessons with a bursary to help towards learning a musical instrument once they have completed their probationary period.

Victoria Kirkman, whose six-year-old daughter Francesa has recently joined the choir said:

Francesca’s love of music and the church started from a very young age. Being an active member of the Children’s Church at Ripon Cathedral has given her the opportunity to explore her faith and engage in services: most recently as resident Boat Girl, carrying the incense at special services.

As a Year 1 pupil at Outwood Primary Academy Greystone, who also takes piano lessons, she was delighted to audition for the cathedral choir as a probationary chorister. Following a successful audition, she now attends choir practice on a Monday evening and thoroughly enjoys this experience. Her fellow choristers are super-supportive and the staff are all delightful. Long may her passion for music and Christianity continue!

Xander Galloway-Gee, also six, has become the youngest boy to join the choir. His mother Michelle said: “Xander serves as a Boat Boy at the cathedral and regularly attends church on Sundays but all the new choristers are being taught about what happens during services as well as all about the history of the cathedral. They are taught in a really fun way and he enjoys that.

“He’s mixing with a really lovely group of children, the older boys help him a lot and he’s quickly made friends. The atmosphere is always friendly and welcoming. I’m hoping it will be of great benefit to Xander later in life – right now he is learning but he is also having fun; it seems the cathedral is a great place for tag and hide-and-seek!”

The children are reimbursed for their time and commitment with regular payments and a savings plan which accrues over £1,000 for them when they have completed their term in the choir. There are regular trips to places like The Deep in Hull and Lightwater Valley theme park, with the older children embarking on a trip to Germany this Summer.

Previous choristers have gone on to sing in the National Youth Choir and have obtained choral and music scholarships to universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Durham.

Director of Music Andrew Bryden said: “Being a chorister builds confidence and provides life-long skills as the children learn how to work as part of a team and organisational skills as well as receiving musical training.

“Choristers are highly prized by schools but being a chorister impacts on all aspects of their life including sport – England cricketer Alastair Cook is a former chorister.

“The choir opens the door to amazing opportunities which can have a profound effect on their future careers; these children are working with professional musicians on a regular basis.”

More details about joining the choir are available in the music department section at



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