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The Choirs at Hexham Abbey are one of our most valuable treasures! They represent the continuation of a tradition of church music in Hexham that goes back to the 8th century, and play a crucial role in enhancing and enriching the spiritual life of the Abbey through music.
Bishop Acca established the first post of Choir Master in Britain when he arrived in Hexham from Rome in 709. And there has been a choir at Hexham ever since, making the post of Choir Master here the most ancient in the country.
We have three choirs: the Abbey Boys Choir, the Abbey Girls Choir and the Abbey Chamber Choir. The Choirs sing at Abbey services, as well as broadcasting, making recordings, and touring abroad.
Led by Michael Haynes, our Director of Music, and Keith Dale, Assistant Organist, our choirs strive for the highest standards and enjoy an excellent reputation.
Choir members benefit from a first class musical education, as well as developing a whole range of useful life skills. They recieve specialist vocal coaching and this is greatly subsidised and also supported by the 'Friends of Cathedral Music' (see FCM website here). They also enjoy a busy and varied social calendar.
The Abbey Choir, which consists of boys and men, sings Choral Evensong each Wednesday in term-time, and choral services most Sundays. It has a large repertoire of anthems, responses and service settings.
The age range for boy trebles is 7 to 14 years, and many boys progress as young men to sing alto, tenor or bass on the back row of the choir.
Boys are paid pocket money each term, and opportunities arise for scholarships for students in the sixth form.
All boys are eligible for a trial, and successful applicants begin choir life as probationers. Our probationers come from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities, and are trained to become full choristers.
The Abbey Choir has recorded a CD 'My spirit hath rejoiced', which is available to purchase in Hexham Abbey Gift Shop. In recent years, the Choir has also been involved in a number of broadcasts, and undertaken tours to Paris (2007), Rome (2009), Berlin (2012), Antwerp and Ghent (2014), Estonia (2015), and Geneva (2018).
The Abbey Girls Choir, which was formed in 2001, sings Choral Evensong on Thursdays each week and for a Sunday Eucharist or Sunday Choral Evensong most Sundays. It is divided into junior and senior choristers aged 7 - 18 with junior choristers singing alone for Abbey Praise. The Girls' Choir is supplemented by the same group of men's voices as the Abbey Choir.
Girls who join the Choir begin as probationers, in the same way as our boy choristers, and enjoy the same educational and training opportunities.
The Choir has sung at concerts and services around the UK, and has taken part in a number of foreign tours.
The Abbey Chamber Choir is a mixed choir of adult voices that sings Evensong on the first Sunday of the month. The choir also sings for Sunday services when the other choirs are on holiday and after the busy periods of Christmas and Easter.
The Chamber Choir rehearses on occasional Saturdays.
Enquiries from potential new members of any of our Choirs are always welcome, and an informal audition can be arranged for a time that suits you.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Michael Haynes, Director of Music