The Choir of Westminster Abbey is renowned worldwide as one of the finest choirs of its type. Comprising some 30 boys (all of whom attend the Abbey’s dedicated residential Choir School) and 12 professional adult singers (known as Lay Vicars), the Choir plays a central role both in the daily choral services in the Abbey and in the many royal, state and national occasions which take place there.
In addition to fulfilling its responsibilities in Westminster, the Choir undertakes an extensive programme of concerts and tours, travelling in recent years to the USA, the Far East, Spain, France, Poland, and Russia. The Choir appears every year at the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music in London and has been invited to participate in many other major festivals, including the BBC Proms and the South Bank Centre’s World Voice and Birtwistle Games festivals. The Choir broadcasts frequently on national radio and television, and in October 2007 made its first tour of Australia, giving seven concerts in six cities, including two at the Sydney Opera House.
The Choir of Westminster Abbey’s acclaimed recordings for Hyperion Records include the complete Great Service by William Byrd, choral works by Sir Edward Elgar and a series of discs of music for the great feast days of the church year. The latest additions to the catalogue are “Mary and Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey” (2008, Gramophone Critics’ Choice and The Sunday Times CD of the Week), and “A Christmas Caroll from Westminster Abbey” (2008, BBC Music Magazine Christmas Choice).
Martin Neary was Director of the Westminster Abbey Choir from 1988 to 1999. Currently the Choir is directed by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers.