17 of the choristers – all pupils of King’s Ely – took part in this year’s tour, featuring five performances in cities including Tallinn, Haapsalu and Parnu. The tour culminated in a spine-tingling concert at St Peter and St Paul’s Cathedral in Tallinn.
For many of the choristers, all aged 9-13, it was their first tour. Despite the gruelling timetable of rehearsals and performances, they still managed to squeeze in plenty of sightseeing and downtime, including visits to a water park, the beach, local parks and the Seaplane Harbour Estonian Maritime Museum.
Director of Music at Ely Cathedral, Paul Trepte, said: “Tours of this sort are the stuff that memories are made of. The choir had a fabulous week singing in some impressive venues to appreciative audiences in Tallinn (three concerts), Haapsalu and Parnu. The musical highlight was their final concert at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Tallinn, attended by the Deputy British Ambassador. A fault on the organ in that church required some last minute changes to the programme, which in turn demanded great flexibility and professionalism from all singers.”
Ely Cathedral Boys’ Choir has been part of the English choral tradition since the mid-16th century and, in terms of monastic heritage, its history can be traced to circa 990 AD.
Today, the choir consists of 22 boy choristers and six adult lay clerks, augmented on Sundays and Feast Days by additional singers and, sometimes, instrumentalists. Alongside daily rehearsals and services, there is a demanding schedule of concerts, broadcasts and recordings.