Girls make history at cathedral
A rehearsal has taken place of the first girls' choir at Canterbury Cathedral after more than 1,000 years of male-dominated singing.
Sixteen local girls aged between 12 and 16 were selected for the Canterbury Cathedral Girls' Choir, the first to be assembled under the name of the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
They met, rehearsed and tried on cathedral cassocks for the first time yesterday ahead of their public debut at Evensong on January 25.
Being a chorister at the cathedral has historically been an exclusively male preserve but leaders have said introducing a girls' choir would be an "exciting addition".
The girls' choir director, David Newsholme, also the assistant organist at the cathedral, said: "We held 40 auditions at the end of November.
"The standard and level of enthusiasm was incredibly high and, after much difficult deliberation, we have appointed 16 girls aged between 12 and 16.
"These girls come from eight different schools in the local area. This is a very exciting time for the cathedral and for these 16 very talented young ladies."
The girls' first service later this month will include music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Dyson and Samuel Sebastian Wesley.
The cathedral has a long tradition of choral music and some notable musicians have distinguished themselves there over the years, including Harry Christophers, Trevor Pinnock and Sir Mark Elder.
Senior figures at the cathedral said the girls' choir would add to the cathedral's historic choral tradition but exist as a separate entity to the boys.
The girls will initially sing at services when the boy choristers, who are boarders at St Edmund's School, are on their twice-termly breaks.
The 16 girls in the choir are: Megan Bithel-Vaughan, Poppy Braddy, Chloe Chawner, Abby Cox, Olivia Earl, Elizabeth Green, Ffion Green, Saskia Jamieson-Bibb, Rebekah Kennett, Laura Nicholson, Beatrice Ninham, Polly Preston, Holly Smith, Ellen Spurling, Molly Swatman, and Lauren Weir.