When I started my first year at Bristol, I was looking for somewhere to sing every week – I’d only been singing in a church choir for 18 months but had really enjoyed it and wanted to keep it up at university. I didn’t get into any of the auditioned choirs run by the Music Department and the Music Society, and so I thought I’d audition for Clifton Cathedral Choir as I’d met one of the older choral scholars in the Music Department, and it was only a ten-minute walk from my halls of residence. I didn’t have much choral experience before joining the choir – I hadn’t been a chorister as a child, or had formal singing lessons, and so the fact that I’d been offered a choral scholarship in a cathedral choir was something I quite quickly became proud of. Once I was in, I decided to make it my aim to improve my technique and listen to the sound I was making;
I was a fairly confident at sight-reading already (and this was to improve regardless of whether or not I tried!) and I wanted to make sure that I felt happy to sing choral solos if I was asked. So far, coming to the end of my second year in the choir, I can certainly say my sight-reading has improved – and I also feel that I’ve had the chance to focus on tone quality where I can, which has made me much more willing to take solos. A standard Sunday’s music might include a mass by Palestrina, with motets by Gibbons, Mathias, and Allegri; but we also regularly sing music by composers such as Victoria, Purcell, Vaughan Williams, and Leighton, as well as occasionally singing music by one of the other choral scholars. The variety of music we sing is so wide that I really struggled to come up with a ‘standard Sunday’ list!
Aside from singing at Clifton Cathedral, I also play the cello in the University Symphony Orchestra and New Music Ensemble, and various operas/projects that come up, alongside singing with the Music Department Schola Cantorum (a female-voices choir for Music students). Outside of my degree I spend most of my time singing and playing in various groups, including the Cathedral, and this year I’ve been the Concerts Administrator for Bristol University Music Society: I like to keep busy so generally fill my time with music! However, I always have enough time to do my work, but it has definitely taught me about the importance of time management. I’m not too worried about losing my social life to music as, for musicians, you make friends and a social life out of the people you sing and perform with – and the Cathedral scholars always go to the pub after rehearsals, so I always have that to look forward to!