The Schola Cantorum was established as a means of providing Catholic boys from the age of seven with a rigorous choral education within the maintained system, something hitherto only available in the independent system. The development carried the full support and encouragement of the late Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Hume.
The School's close association with the Oratory places it in a strong, if not unique, position to provide this form of specialist education and to contribute to the development of traditional liturgical music. The partnership between the Oratory and the School provides ideal opportunities for the school to train boys within the context of a living tradition and liturgy.
The Oratory in London is part of a dynamic liturgical and musical tradition which goes back to the sixteenth century when the first Oratory was established in Rome at the time of the Counter-Reformation. Both Palestrina and Victoria were closely associated with the Oratory and Philip Neri, its founder, and Victoria (also known as 'God's Own Composer' became an Oratorian. In particular, the Oratory in Europe has been closely associated with the development of polyphony and chant. The Oratory in London has a reputation for maintaining this tradition and for providing some of the finest liturgy and liturgical music in Europe today.
The Schola sings at the Saturday evening Mass at the Oratory every week in term time and at other Masses and services during and outside term, and in the School Chapel during the week. In addition to the liturgical commitment, concert work and touring are a regular feature of the choristers' lives: recent highlights include tours to the East Coast of America, and an upcoming tour to the West Coast!
Choristers normally join the School at the age of seven and are selected by audition, examination and interview, although places may sometimes be available to boys who join the school, at a later stage.
The Choristers rehearse at 8 o'clock every morning, as well as for an hour immediately before services, and frequently during the lunch break and after school. They receive voice training from one of London’s top vocal coaches and all boys are given individual voice lessons. When their voices change, they devote more time to their instrumental music. Their interest in singing is kept alive until their voices have developed sufficiently to enable them, where appropriate, to return to the Schola as Choral Scholars, when they benefit from the unique opportunity of singing alongside professional lay clerks from the Oratory Church Choir. Choristers are fully involved in other aspects of the musical life of the school.
For further information about the Schola, please click here
Director of the Schola